Home Houseplants Air Plants: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing and Caring for These Unique Plants

Air Plants: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing and Caring for These Unique Plants

by Donna
3 minutes read

Air Plants: A Beginner’s Guide

What are Air Plants?

Air plants (Tillandsia spp.) are unique and fascinating plants that don’t need soil to grow. They’re part of the Bromeliad family, related to pineapples. Air plants attach themselves to other plants or objects with their roots and absorb nutrients and moisture from the air and rain.

Caring for Air Plants

  • Light: Air plants need bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, which can burn their leaves.
  • Temperature and Humidity: Air plants prefer temperatures between 50-90°F (10-32°C) and moderate humidity levels (40-60%). They thrive in terrariums and bathrooms.
  • Watering: Mist air plants regularly to keep them hydrated. You can also soak or dunk them in water for a short period. The frequency of watering depends on the species and the environment.
  • Fertilizing: Feed air plants once a month with a diluted liquid fertilizer for air plants or bromeliads.
  • Maintenance: Gently shake or tap air plants after watering to remove excess water and prevent rot. Remove dead or yellowing leaves.

Propagating Air Plants

Air plants produce small plantlets called “pups.” To propagate, gently twist or wiggle the pup until it detaches from the parent plant. Replant the pup on a suitable surface and provide it with bright, indirect light and regular watering.

Common Pests and Diseases

Air plants are generally pest-resistant, but they can occasionally be affected by mealybugs and scale insects. Isolate affected plants and remove the insects by hand.

Choosing and Buying Air Plants

  • Choose healthy plants with vibrant leaves and no signs of pests or diseases.
  • Avoid plants with brown or wilted leaves, mushy roots, or visible infestations.
  • Look for reputable online retailers that specialize in air plants.

Types of Air Plants

  • Tillandsia ionantha: Small, hardy air plant with vibrant green leaves that turn red or pink when flowering.
  • Tillandsia xerographica: Large air plant with silvery-grey leaves that form a rosette shape.
  • Tillandsia bulbosa: Unique air plant with bulbous, curly leaves.
  • Tillandsia capitata: Medium-sized air plant with thick, silver-green leaves that form a rosette shape.
  • Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss): Air plant with long, trailing green-grey leaves that drape and hang from surfaces.


Air plants are easy to care for and make a beautiful addition to any home. By following these tips, you can keep your air plants thriving and healthy.

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