Racking your brains trying to come up with the best ways to care for air plants? Or just want to learn how to care for air plants before committing to buying some?
Make no mistake about it –air plants are not your ordinary kind of house plants. Although caring for air plants can’t get any easier, there are specific conditions that ensure tillandsia plants grow healthy.
Air plants are generally hard to kill and this makes even the most inexperienced gardeners seem like a gardening connoisseur when growing these plants. And that’s not all. Air plants have ridiculously few requirements not to mention the endless, creative ways to display them.
If you’ve been looking for something unusual to grace your living room décor, then you might find lots of luck with air plants. Terrariums, aeriums, bowls, seashells and even wire crafts are some of the many display ideas to show off your air plants.
So whether you’re a busy gardener or a recent house plant convert, caring for tillandsia plants is quite a snap. Let’s learn how!
What exactly are air plants?
What are Air Plants?
Air plants are naughty rule breakers. They don’t give a succulent about soil and pots with drainage holes!
These weirdos can grow anywhere as long as there is air, water and light. They’re epiphytes –a cool name to refer to plants that grow on hosts but don’t obtain nutrients from them. Air plants just use these plants for anchorage and support using their roots. Talk about clingy plants!
Yes, they got roots but they don’t use that to absorb water and nutrients. The roots are simply to attach to the host plants. So how the heck do these plants get their water and nutrients?
Wait, those thin, spiky tendrils? That’s right. These leaves possess fine hairs on the surface known as trichomes which actively absorb water and nutrients from the air.
Also known as tillandsia, air plants hail from the tropical forests of Mexico where they grow on other plants as epiphytes. These have now been tamed and are popular living room aesthetics due to their fascinating looks. And since they don’t need dirt, they can be displayed in a myriad of ways.
Although mostly green in color, they usually come in different shades including silver which are believed to be more drought resistant. If all go well, they produce showy, teensy flowers during spring or summer.
5 Reasons Why You Need a Tillandsia Plant
- Your living room or office décor will love it! They’re quite unlike any plant. The spiky tendrils set them apart and makes them look just so awesome! And beautiful.
- You don’t have to worry about what type of soil or potting mix is required. Air plants are dirt independent!
- Air plants can be displayed almost anywhere! Tillandsia plants are not bound by anything.
- They’re extremely low maintenance. Any forgetful farmer can have a whale of a time growing air plants. It’s super simple!
- Air plants take up very little space. These dainty plants economize on space and one can have many of them without worrying about where to place them.
- Air plants pair up gorgeously with succulents and other house plants.
Caring for air plants is a breeze if you ask me. Take note of the following pointers to have outstanding tillandsia plants all around your home, office or room.
Is Airflow Important for Air Plants?
Air plants are created in such a way that they thrive in environments with free flow of air. This is simply because they absorb nutrients and water from air in their native environment.
Side note: Air plants in glass terrariums look absolutely fabulous, just take a look at our favorite golden terrarium for air plants.
However, ensure the mouth is wide enough to ensure the plants are not suffocating inside. You definitely don’t want to end up with an empty terrarium.
Stuffing tillandsia plants in an air-deprived environment is only preparing them for failure. And hey, we’re not saying you buy a blower or a fan just for your air plants. That would be outrageous!
Just ensure they’re getting adequate airflow wherever you display them. In other words, they shouldn’t feel as if they’re claustrophobic. They’re called air plants for a reason right?
How to Water Air Plants
A common air plant faux pax is that these plants absorb all the water and nutrients from the air and so they don’t need to be watered. That’s a big fat lie.
Don’t fall for it!
Living room and office environments are nothing compared to the forests where these plants are native to. The former has dry air while the latter is humid and a perfect environment for air plants to thrive in.
Watering air plants doesn’t have to be college algebra, who remembers those days? However, doing it the wrong way may kill your tillandsia plants. It’s much harder to kill these plants by under watering rather than overwatering. To water your air plants like a pro keep reading!
What types of water is good for air plants?
Since tillandsia plants get most of their nutrients from water, it’s paramount to feed them with nutritious water. Of course, the best bet is rain water as it contains a lot of nutrients and minerals. Take a look at this highly rated rain water collection system from Oatey if you want to give this a shot.
Unfortunately, this might not be readily available in many households. An awesome alternative may be spring water as it contains numerous nutrients. If that seems far-reaching as well, you can go for well water, creek water, pond water or lake water. Tap water is a good option too.
Avoid distilled water because it is deprived of all minerals and nutrients, your air plant definitely doesn’t want this.
Misting your air plants
Air plants growing in a dry climatic environment will benefit greatly from regular spritzing using a normal spray bottle. If you’re not normal, check out this really cool vintage glass spray bottle, it could be a great decoration item too! Keep in mind though, spritzing your air plant occasionally can’t be used as a sole watering method, there’s a better way.
It must be complemented with other watering methods as trichomes can’t absorb adequate water from misting alone. Think about it, on hot summer days a good misting will cool us down normally but not until we get a refreshing bottle of cold water will it help dramatically.
Same thing with air plants, misting will help alleviate dehydration for only a few, use more adequate watering techniques below to compliment misting.
Dunking your air plants in water
The Perfect on-the-go watering method for busy times.
If you don’t have enough time to give your plant a soak, then this is the best way to water your plants until you get time to properly water them. Simply dunk your plants several times in a pool of water for about 20 minutes and you’re done. Using bright colored buckets like these might make the watering process more fun!
Yes, that easy! (Anyone remember the red “That was easy!” button from staples a long time ago? Comment RED in the comments below if you do).
Soaking your air plant for an hour
The most recommended watering method to end up with healthy plants.
Submerge your plants in a bowl or sink full of water and let them sit for an hour. Don’t submerge blooms as they can get destroyed. After the bath, pull them out and set them upside down so that all water can dry out before returning them to their displays.
Placing them on a drying rack of some sort will make it easier to achieve full dryness, don’t let your air plant sit on a counter in its own water bath, it won’t dry properly.
Also in terms of frequency, give them a soak once a week.
How Much Light do Air Plants Need?
Tillandsia plants prefer bright, indirect light for a few hours every day. In the jungle, these plants grow on rocks, woods and other trees away from direct sunlight. Although you can subject them to the morning or evening sun for a few hours, avoid hot direct sun as this will lead to sun burn.
Any window in your house can get the job done in regard to lighting especially west or south facing windows. Poorly lit spaces will lead to deformed and ugly looking plants. In case natural lighting may not be sufficient, then go for artificial grow lights.
What Temperature/Climate is Good for Air Plants?
Frost and freeze cold temperatures? No way.
Air plants just won’t survive in such conditions. Let temperatures be above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and that shouldn’t be a biggie if you’re growing your tillandsia plants indoors.
Bring those outdoor plants in when temperatures go below 32 degrees.
Conversely, subjecting your air plants to extremely high temperatures will make them dry and parched, yep even air plants need adequate hydration like us too!
Is Fertilizing Tillandsia Plants Okay?
Air plants do get hungry. The air that is supposed to be a source of nutrients for them is no doubt full of pollutants and toxins. Tillandsia plants will appreciate feeding once a month or four times a year.
Use air plant specific fertilizer or bromeliad fertilizer. You can also use diluted regular houseplant fertilizer. Add the fertilizer to the water and soak your air plants in it. This is also applicable in misting or dunking.
Your plants won’t die if you fail to fertilize them. But if you want vivacious and healthy plants, some feeding would go a long way. Don’t be excessive on the frequency though, a little here and there goes a long way!
How Do I Display or Mount Air Plants?
There are dozens of ways to display air plants. You can stick their roots on a wood or a stone using super glue. Popular air plants designs also feature glass baubles which gives a stunning aesthetic. Additionally, you can set them on sea shells and wire baskets.
When displaying your plants, ensure the display surfaces are free from chemicals, rust or toxins which may be detrimental to your plants’ health.
Do Air Plants Bloom?
Air plants can reward you with brilliant blooms if you treat them nicely. With lots of varieties to choose from, it can be a bit tricky to offer a generalized formula to follow for these blooms to occur. Several factors come into play but mainly it all boils down to the variety and the environment.
Tillandsia plants bloom only once in their lifetime. They do this at maturity. The mother produces pups which eventually grow and flower while the mother plant dies off, unfortunately.
To get your air plants to flower, look for plants with a couple of pups. This is because the plant in its maturity stage and will soon bloom.
Air Plants Don’t Have Pests Right?
Fortunately, air plants are hardy and robust and are usually not susceptible to many pests though. But, you may have to deal with a few mealy bugs and scale insects from time to time. But that shouldn’t be huge deal. Simply use 70% isopropyl alcohol or neem oil to knock them off their socks!
Think you can handle the air plants now? We think so. If you have any questions be sure to ask our exclusive group at Succulent Plant Lounge, our members here help each other almost daily!
Let us know here on Succulent City if you plan to buy some air plants and which one you want to buy. Thanks for reading with us and of course, happy air planting! 🌱