Definitive Guide To 5 Types of Air Plants

5 Types of Air Plants

Have you seen those plants that look like they are growing from nothing? With no soil anywhere near them and no visible roots, they are a sight-for-sore eyes as they dangle in the air from wire baskets, hooks, and chandelier-like containers! You may have spotted some with furry, silver leaves or others with glossy leaves, while some present the most vibrant colored flowers.

These tiny, floating, evergreen perennials are known as air plants.

Air plants go by the scientific name Tillandsia, and there are over 650 varieties of this species! They are originally found hanging on for dear life in the tropical climates of South and Central America as well as southern parts of the United States.

Tillandsias have the unique feature of being epiphytes– which means they do not require soil but more rely on water and air to grow. This attribute has Tillandsias attaching themselves to trees, shrubs, rocks, fences, and telephone posts, but they do not feed off the host.

These amazing, un-demanding plants are brilliant for decorating small spaces and look adorable peeking out of seashells, against a piece of driftwood, suspended on wire baskets and vases or semi-enclosed in glass baubles.

If you are looking for a plant that looks more like a pet without the hassle of cleaning up after it, here are a variety of 5 types of air plants to add a kick of personality to your home or office.

And before you learn about them, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of Amazon’s Prime Membership! Get that FREE 2-day shipping on all your new air plant necessities! Click here to learn more and sign up today. Think of this as a thank you gift from Succulent City for keeping up with our articles.

5 Types of Air Plants
5 Types of Air Plants @carmenmcnall

Tillandsia Caput-Medusae

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a plant that is referred to as the goddess of Greek mythology, Medusa? Absolutely yes! If the name alone does not peak your interest, you will be blown away by its thick, wide silvery-green leaves that curl as they grow, giving the impression of the snakes on Medusa’s head reaching out to you.

This gorgeous, evergreen air plant is a South American native, sprouting heavily in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Its leaves appear grey-blue in color and are arranged like rosettes. The twisting leaves grow from a bulbous base, can get to 25 cm long, and have fine, grey hairs all around them.

T. Caput-Medusae pulls out all the floral stops as it blooms from spring to the beginning of summer. It produces delicate purple flowers that are about 3.2 cm long from a pale pink bract. Pups grow from the bottom of the plant after flowering and these can either be left to form a clump or can be propagated when they reach 1/3 the size of the ‘mother plant’.

A fun fact about the T. Caput-Medusae is it can be mounted sideways or upside down and it will still grow straight in the direction they are in. These beauties do not abide by the laws of gravity like many other plants do. So you can hanging them in a planter like this one, or like this one and have no issues!

When looking for a truly unique looking statement plant, look no further than T. Caput Medusa. We promise that, unlike the myth, you won’t turn into stone when you stare at it!

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Caput-Medusae @flowerheartseverywhere

Tillandsia Cyanea – Pink Quill Plant

The Tillandsia Cyanea is an indigenous resident of the rainforests of Ecuador, boasting large, bright pink bracts arranged in the shape of a paddle, that gives it the name Pink Quill plant. Its Latin name, Cyanea, means ‘blue,’ and refers to the blue-purple hue of the flowers. The leaves are long and green.

Peeping out of the sides of the fan-like quill are blue-purple-violet flowers, appearing at most 2 at a time and last for only a couple of days. The plant blooms during spring and autumn. The quill itself, which is technically the inflorescence of the plant, can stand tall for as long as 4 months, bringing a burst of color wherever it’s positioned.

This epiphytic perennial is unique because unlike most air plants, the Pink Quill can grow in soil, so you can plant it in a cool planter like this one! It has tough, dark green, grass-like leaves and can develop to be 20 inches (50 cm) high by 20 inches (50 cm) wide.

This hardy houseplant can handle dry conditions like a true champion, although it does like good air circulation and temperatures not below 7°C (45°F). This tropical stunner enjoys its moments in the sun, but direct, strong sunshine will leave the plant with sunburn.

Did you know that air plants, along with succulents, are trending in becoming decor for weddings? Take a look at this article and you’ll really be inspired!

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Cyanea – Pink Quill Plant @brandon_nxs

Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima Huamelula

Catching the eye of everyone who passes by is the Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima Huamelula or simply known as T.Maxima . When in bloom, this upright shaped plant proudly shows off bright hues of pink, purple, blue and green, while bearing a resemblance to an enchanting firework display.

The rare T.Maxima has thick, moss green, succulent leaves that burst out from a central point, with the leaves starting off dark green at the base and turning pinkish-red towards the tips when exposed to strong light. The plant generates multiple, striking purple flowers with yellow tips, producing more than 5 flowers all at once.

This air plant originates from Oaxaca in Mexico and has been known to grow up to 6 inches tall. The T.Maxima’s colorful and unusual form gives it that wow factor when mounted on a piece of bark or driftwood, if not sitting pretty in a terrarium.

Talking about terrariums, you may want to pick one!

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima Huamelula @mj.0512

Tillandsia Harrisii

The Tillandsia Harrisii is a very exceptional plant that is held dear to the hearts of many botanists, as it was named after an American air plant enthusiast named Bill Harris who was brutally murdered in Guatemala in 1985.

This distinctive air plant has silvery- grey leaves that are curled in a dense rosette along its stem and are usually falling towards one side. It is considered to be a caulescent species— which defines it as a plant that grows along a stem that is above the ground.

T.Harrissi displays a deep- red inflorescence that consists of 5 to 9 spirally positioned, purple- violet flowers with blue-violet petals and orange to red bracts. These magnificent colors create a sheer contrast to the grey-green leaves of the plant. As a slow grower, it may not produce blooms until after a year or two.

The T.Harrisii thrives under bright indirect light and away from full sunshine, so a sunny window or nook is the perfect spot for it. It also prefers moderate humidity with a good air flow to prosper. 

This easy care plant is native to Guatemala and requires a CITES permit that certifies that the plant was sustainably grown and not collected from nature.

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5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Harrisii @pot_plants_windy

Tillandsia Stricta

The ever-popular Tillandsia Stricta is an evergreen air plant and a local resident of Trinidad, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana and northern Argentina. The plant can take root on sand dunes as well as under tropical rainforests, making it a highly adaptable plant. According to its climate, Tillandsia Stricta may have soft flexible leaves or firmer rigid leaves and can vary in size and color.  

This air plant’s scientific name (stricta) translates to ‘erect’ and illustrates the upright habit of this plant. It also ties into the plants’ colloquial names; Upright Air Plant, Strict Tillandsia, and Erect Tillandsia.

The Tillandsia Stricta is a clump-forming perennial with short-stemmed leaves that grow into thick rosettes. This compact species has dark green leaves and produces attractive pink and white floral bracts when in bloom. The bracts hold a showy bright blue flower that sadly only lasts a day, although the bracts remain vibrant for up to 10 weeks.

Known to be one of the fastest-growing species, the Tillandsia Stricta is a decorators dream– delivering an impressive colorful clump after a few years. They can be mounted on virtually anything, giving you creative leeway to go nuts with wood, ceramics, seashells and rocks.

5 Types of Air Plants
Tillandsia Stricta @tamanhatijz

Care Tips for Air Plants

Air plants are slowly taking over the indoor plant world and you do not want to be left behind! There are some pointers to remember when taking care of air plants.

Check out our article  “Your Ultimate Guide on How to Care for Air Plants” for an extensive look!

Watering Air Plants

Too much water will kill your little one. Some air plants do well with the occasional misting once a week, especially during cold seasons. During the summer, the dunk and dry method works the best. Soak the plant for 15 minutes then shake off the excess water before putting it back in its home.

Here’s our article dedicated to watering air plants, check it out!

Sunlight for Air Plants

Air plants are naturally found hanging on to tree branches. This shows they flourish with a bit of shade or in bright, filtered or indirect light. They do not like baking under the scorching sun.

5 Types of Air Plants
Beautiful air plant display @flowers.by.roxanne

Curious to try out one of these 5 types of air plants? We would love to hear about your adventures as well as answer any questions you may have! Already own air plants? Show us your photos in our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plants Lounge!

Ready to start your air plant collection? Let us help! Head over to Succulents Box, where you can sign up for monthly subscription boxes and get over 200 air plants and succulents delivered right to your door! Starting at just $5 a month, you can grow your air plant collections right from the comfort of your home! Click here to learn more and sign up today.

If you want to learn more about air plants, we have some additional articles to help! Air Plants vs Succulents, Everything You Need to Know About Air Plants, and 7 Rare Air Plants You Need in Your Home!

Head over to our Instagram and Pinterest accounts for daily succulent content!

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Be sure to check out this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complimentary guide. 

Thanks for reading, happy planting!

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent

Would you like to grow your very own natural pagoda?

Yes, that’s right. In the heart of the wonderful world of succulents is an eye-catching perennial with multi-colored bright red and green leaves that appear like a tiered tower of a pagoda. This fiery evergreen makes an attractive garden focal point and creates a gorgeous border around the edge of a sunny rockery. Meet the Crassula Capitella, the small but striking succulent that also goes by the names Red Flames, Red Pagoda and Campfire Plant.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Red and green succulent. @mes_succulentes

Origins of the Crassula Capitella

Crassula Capitella is natively rooted in South Africa, vibrantly thriving in the provinces of Transvaal, Mpumalanga, Free State, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. It is also prominently featuring in the landscapes of Namibia and Botswana. The plant is well known to the indigenous people of South Africa as a herb whose roots are dried and crushed into a powder that is used to heal wounds.

This succulent derives the name Crassula from the Latin word “Crassus” which means ‘thick’. This is referring to the size of the chubby leaves. The word Capitella relates to a specific epithet drawn from the Latin word “Capitellum” which translated means ‘small head’.

Be sure to also check out “Where Do Most Succulents Come From?” to see the origin of the rest of your succulent garden.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Succulent in well-draining pot. @myfellowfoliage

Crassula Capitella Succulent

This evergreen succulent has small, pointed, thick leaves that are firmly stacked on top of each other, attached to a stem. The leaves are narrow and tend to resemble a propeller. As the plant grows, the leaves start off as a bright, apple-green color. After that, the more sunlight the plant receives which makes for the leaves to form highlights at the tips and edges that range in shades, from deep purple, to blush red and intense orange.

The different hues are emphasized during the winter as the perennial takes advantage of bright sunlight and cool, long nights. When grown in shaded areas, the leaves of Crassula Capitella remain olive green in color, all year round. The leaves grow in the shape of a rosette, with larger leaves tightly packed at the base of the stem and smaller, spaced out leaves at the top tip of the stem.

Interested in these colorful succulents? Make sure you check out “5 Succulents with Red Flowers” here.

Crassula Capitella is an upstanding member of the plant society, in the sense that it tends to grow standing upright, ranging from 15 to 40 cm tall. Given the right conditions, this succulent can also spread around a 1-meter radius, but the tips of the stems will always try and face the sun.

Once a year, mostly during the summer, the stems sprout clusters of tiny, star-like, white flowers that become the feature attraction for bees and butterflies. This succulent also produces an elongated inflorescence forming from the stem, and the roots appear at the plant’s internodes, making rooting effortless if the stem is lying on the ground.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Crassula capitella with blueish hue. @dr_succs

Best Watering Conditions

No matter how faithful we try to be with our evergreen friends, sometimes things just don’t go as planned, for example, they may end up with no access to water for a short time period. The ever-forgiving Crassula Capitella turns out to be a super succulent! In addition, to storing water in the leaves like other succulents, it also saves water during the day. Thanks to the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), the succulent is able to open its stomata at night to absorb carbon dioxide, instead of during the day, which helps the plant reduce internal moisture loss due to evaporation. The plant’s hardiness enables them to thrive and survive in drought-prone areas.

That being said, however, the Crassula Capitella still requires a drink of water now and again. Try these water bottles out when its time to water your succulent. Likewise most succulents, one of the greatest dangers to these plants is over-watering. To be on the safe side, you would rather your plant be too dry as compared to too wet. Not sure why your Crassula Capitella is dying? Check out “Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off?”. Anyways, that is to say a good drink of water every fortnight should be sufficient and the timing can alternate depending on the weather. This succulent does not like bath time and would only require a short 10-minute soak in a saucer of water, then shaken off to drain excess water.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
stunning decoration @succulentsssss

Best Lighting Conditions

To bring the best out of the leaf coloring, Crassula Capitella will do well with at least 6 hours of sunshine in a partially shaded area. The plant prefers light or porous, well-draining garden soil, like this one. Crassula Capitella can withstand some level of frost, but it does not do well in freezing temperatures. When small, brown dots start to appear on the leaves, this could be a sign of frost damage. If residing in areas with cold climates, place the plant in a container that can easily be relocated indoors during extreme temperature changes.

The Crassula Capitella is susceptible to mealy bugs and fungal diseases. It should be checked on regularly. This succulent can also fall prone to foliage edema which occurs from rapid changes in moisture. The plant is safe to have around curious animals. To clarify it does not fall under the list of toxic succulents.

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The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Crassula capitella in the garden. @cactinaut

Propagation

This branching succulent propagates through offsets of leaf, root, and stem cuttings. To propagate the plant using a part of the plant, ensure that your cutting is approximately 130 mm long. Try these shears for those tricky cuts. After that, place the cutting in a tray with succulent potting mix or soil that is moist but not waterlogged. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the cuttings to take root and show new growth. During this time, it is advisable to occasionally water the plant to establish an extensive root system and after that, you can reduce watering to every fortnight.

Also check out “5 Tips for Propagating Succulents” for a more in-depth look at propagation.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Light green capitella succulent. @adelicadezadoamor

Pruning and Fertilizer

To elongate the life of the Crassula Capitella, firstly it’s suggested that you prune and replant your succulent after it flowers. Secondly, this succulent could do with an organic compost fertilizer, twice a year or if the soil is impoverished. Old foliage can be taken off with a sharp, clean knife before the new leaves start to emerge to maintain the pleasant and delightful look of your succulent. To really keep your Crassula Capitella thriving, every two to three years, especially in the early springtime, you could divide up the clumps and direct the succulent to grow in the direction you would like.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Stair pattern on crassula capitella succulent. @replantnl

Depending on your location and where you buy your plants from, Crassula Capitella range in price from $3.00 to $20.00. With a wide variety of colors available at select supermarkets, online, and at your local farmers market. Their intriguing shapes have become the latest trend for wedding planners and interior designers. They make absolutely brilliant ornamental gifts in an indoor container plant or hanging basket.

Thanks for reading! If you have a minute, drop us a line letting us know where you get your succulents from, and maybe we could compare notes, leaves, and succulents!

Also if you liked this post, make sure to check out related content like “What is a Cactus Plant?” or “5 Office Succulents You Wish You Had at Work”. And Be sure to join our ever-growing succulent community on  Facebook,   Instagram, and Pinterest!

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complimentary guide.

Happy Planting!! 🌵

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