How to Care for Air Plants

Air Plant Care

Air plants are ideal for people who don't have much experience with gardening or caring for house plants. They are very easy to grow and they don't require much care so they are perfect for beginners.

Air plants (Tillandsia spp.) include more than 650 types. These are plants that can grow without any soil. These are bromeliads that get all nutrients and water they need through their special leaves. They do have roots but they use them only to attach themselves to the ground, rocks or trees, depending on where they grow.

These beautiful plants are known for their triangle-shaped leaves or strap shaped leaves. Many of them also have gorgeous funnel-shape or tubular flowers. They truly make amazing house plants.

These plants are native to warm climate of United States, Mexico, Central and South America. They are used to harsh climate conditions and lack of care so it's very easy to grow them in your home. They don't require much input on your part.

Tips for Growing Air Plants

There are some handy tips for growing air plants that you need to follow. As said above, these plants don't require much care but there are some guidelines you need to follow:

  • Provide them with adequate air flow. Consistent air circulation is important for the wellbeing of air plants. They need enough air so they can thrive.
  • Moisturize them when necessary. Remember that your air plants need some moisture so you should mist them daily from late spring to mid-autumn. During winter, misting should be applied only once or twice a week.
  • Fertilize once per month. Air plants should be fertilized on a monthly basis in spring and summer. Use low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer. Make sure to mix it at only one-quarter strength. Do not over-fertilize: air plants don't need a lot of fertilizer. 
  • Protect them from full sun. While air plants tend to like warm weather it is not a good idea to keep them at full sun. These plants grow on trees or in moist, partial shade. You need to mimic this situation in your home. If you grow a ground type of an air plant, such as Tillandsia cyanea or Tillandsia lindenii, make sure to provide it with bright but filtered light. If you grow your air plants outdoors make sure to put them in partial or dappled shade. This is the only way to make them thrive.
  • They need to be warm enough. Never place your air plants in rooms or areas that are colder than 45 degrees F. They will die at those temperatures so you need to keep them warm at all times. You can grow your air plant outdoors if you like in Zone 9 or warmer. You can keep your air plant outdoors during whole year, as long as you keep them dry during winter.

Ideas for Air Plants

Air plants look very attractive so you can use them in numerous ways. For example, you can use them as architectural elements for decorations or you can place them in terrarium. Some varieties, such as rosy air plant (Tillandsia aeranthos, "Amethyst") can be grown in a pot. If you choose to go this route make sure to pick a container that can go nicely with the plant's pink flower spike.

Those air plants that grow naturally in trees can be placed on wooden posts. To secure them, use fishing monofilament with a bit of sphagnum moss for extra moisture.

Remember, air plants are excellent companions for orchids. Both of these plant types like same conditions so they can thrive together and create a beautiful decoration in your home.

Photo credit: Becky Stern

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