Tillandsias or Air Plants are very popular and do not require any soil, hence the name “air plants”. Air plant care is simple as theses hardy plants require almost zero maintenance. Popularity has grown for these beauties, as they require much less attention than other house plants. Amazingly enough, they actually absorb water and nutrients through scales on their leaves.
In humid climates they can survive with water misting and the occasional bath. If grown indoors and air is dry, submerge the plant in water for 2-3 hours about every 1-2 weeks.
Prefers bright, filtered light
Many tillandsia varieties prefer high humidity. Overly curled air plant leaves may be a sign that the air is too dry for your plant and thirsty for more humidity.
Air plants are happy with a wide range of temps, from the 50s to the 90s. Protect from frost.
Never plant in soil
You can fertilize by adding a pinch of Bromeliad or Orchid fertilizer to your mister.
Copper, boron, iron, zinc or rust are all toxic to air plants. Be sure to check your display/fertilizer.
Air Plant, Tilly
Some swear by spray misting, others by soaking, or some use a combination of both spray misting and soaking in their air plant care regimen. If you live in a very humid environment, then spritz 2-3 times per week with an occasional bath.
Most climates will require a 2-3 hour soak each week, in addition to some spray misting. Place your air plant in a container that is large enough to submerge them, and let them soak. After their soak, turn them upside down, and give them a gentle shake. Next, set the plant on its side or up-side-down for about 4 hours while the air plant fully dries.
Air plants are susceptible to rot if they do not thoroughly dry out. When your air plant is completely dry you may return it to its display. It is best to water air plants in the morning, as they absorb the carbon dioxide from the air at night.
Watch our Air Plant video below!
Pond water, Spring water, rain water, filtered water, bottled water, bottled water, and room temperature tap water left out for 24 hours allowing chlorine to dissipate, all work well. Do not use distilled water or softened water due to the salt content that can build up in the leaves.
Air Plants prefer bright, indirect light. Keep in mind the higher the humidity of the air, the more light is tolerated by air plants. If your tillandsia is in a very sunny spot indoors, they may need daily misting or weekly soaking . This will depend on which method you prefer and your climate.
One of the most common reasons that air plants die is that they aren’t receiving enough light. Color may fade if your air plant isn’t getting enough light. It may often get soft, or wilt. 4-6 hours of indirect light a day is recommended at minimum. A bright room, by a window, or even outside works.
Full spectrum artificial light (fluorescent) is best. Regular incandescent bulbs do not emit the quality of light air plants need to photosynthesize. Your Tillandsia should be placed no more than 3 feet from the light source. Also, if you’re going to use fluorescent light, the plants will need a minimum of 12 hours per day.
A Tillandsia specific fertilizer or a bromeliad fertilizer (air plants are in the bromeliad family) a few times a year work great. Another option is to use a regular, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at 1/4 of the recommended strength.
Fertilize air plants by adding a pinch of Bromeliad or Orchid fertilizer at a highly diluted rate of one pinch per gallon of water. Be sure not to overdo it as air plants can burn from too much fertilizer.
Tillandsias are happy in a wide temperature range of 50 – 90 degrees F. Keep in mind that the hotter and drier the air, the more often you’ll have to water your air plant. Be sure to protect your tillandsia from frost.
Air plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in 4 hours or less. Plants kept constantly wet or moist are subject to rot. Do not allow them to dry too quickly either. It is best to keep them away from fans or drafts.
Glass terrariums are beautiful, but air plants need circulation, so it must be an open terrarium. Be sure to let your air plant fully dry fully before you place it back inside your terrarium.
Many tillandsia varieties prefer high humidity. Overly curled air plant leaves may be a sign that the air is too dry for your plant and it is thirsty for more humidity. Adding a weekly soak or daily misting may help. Driftwood is an excellent air plant display as the wood retains moisture. A layer of half perlite and half orchid potting mix in another great choice if in need of some additional humidity. Be sure to spray the mixture layer when misting.
The most common air plant pests are mealybug and scale. Mealy bugs leave a web like cotton looking residue on leaves. Scale insects usually attach to the bottom of leaves and look like tiny bumps. They can cause air plant leaves to yellow and eventually fall apart. If infected, separate from other plants spray with an insecticidal soap. More can be found about mealybugs and other pests here.
Confirm your air plant display is free of copper, boron, iron, zinc or rust. Be sure the fertilizer you are using is free of copper, boron, iron and zinc. Using a fertilizer specifically formulated for bromeliads, tillandsias, or air plants will ensure this.
Air plants can be grown just about anywhere. On rocks, in a seashell, on top of coral, in a pot, or attached to wood (no pressure treated wood – contains copper). Be sure the container makes watering easy and that it will be getting sufficient light. Placed near too much moss may result in rot, as moss retains water.
Wire, waterproof glue (no super glue), hot glue (cooled for a few seconds), fishing line, twisty ties, and nails or staples (on air plants with sufficient roots) will work. No staples or nails on any fleshy part of the air plants as this will kill it. Have some more mounting ideas? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!
Any leaves at the base of your air plant that die can be pulled off or trimmed with sharp shears. If any leaf tips turn brown, cut the brown ends at an angle to blend better. Keep air plants away from both cold and hot drafts that may dry them out.
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Have more air plant care tips?
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