How To Care For Your Air Plant

Air Plants are referred to as such not because they can live on air alone, but rather because they require no soil. It is one of the most common misconceptions and often the reason behind the Tillandsia not surviving. Taking care of an air plant is really simple when you follow these three steps below:

Air

Air plant’s require a good amount of natural air movement. They are perfectly compatible for the windy, outdoor areas provided that the plant is tied down or firmly placed in a branch or around a wire. If you are growing your air plant inside, it is recommended that the plant is near a doorway or window, so that the room receives sufficient fresh air from outside.

The importance of good air circulation for the Tillandsia is because their leaves absorb nutrients rather than their roots. Fresh air contains tiny particles and moisture that the plant can take in through it’s leaves. A room with a very dry atmosphere provides little natural moisture in comparison to the wild. So keep in mind that if you are growing your air plants indoors, and if the room is dry, additional misting or the occasional soaking may be necessary to supply this.

 

Water

How much and when to water depends on certain factors. What time of the year is it? How much light does the air plant get? Is the plant outdoors or indoors? Is it very dry or humid in the place the air plant is?

To water an air plant one could either spray or soak it, or do a combination of both.

In the hotter seasons, either soak the air plant in room temperature water once a week for 30 minutes, as well as spray the plant with a light misting in between weekly soaks.

When misting, spray just enough to cover the plant, and not so much that water starts to run off.

After soaking, let the plant dry completely, and ensure no water is left sitting in between the leaves as it could result in rotting.

Signs of under-watering include the leaves becoming brittle and thin, brown tips, and a crispy feel.

Air plants soaking in water bucket outside
Soak air plants well. You can soak them for several minutes to half an hour depending on when last you watered them. The bigger ones can soak for longer.

Light

Bright, indirect light is the best, and the higher the humidity in the air, the more light the plant can handle. The silvery-leaf varieties of Tillandsia are able to survive in the drier, hotter regions.  Extra attention is required in smaller air plants and individual pieces; make sure to keep them away from such hot light until they start clumping.

If the air plant is placed on a windowsill or branch that receives full sun for most of the day, it is recommended to soak or mist it several times a week.

Air plant on windowsill in light
Air plant in a ceramic pot on a windowsill. It receives sufficient light and air because of its placement.

Air plants in terrariums or hanging globes

It has become a popular trend to grow air plants in hanging glass balls, or terrariums. Both of which offer an interesting and modern way to display plants within the house as a decor piece. Hanging globes, as they are sometimes referred, are strung from the ceiling or wall bracket, and within it are placed air plants of varies colors and sizes.

Growing air plants in such a manner is fine, and can be just as effective as growing the plant in any other manner provided you follow the care instructions below.

When the air plant is placed within the glass globe or terrarium, but can be taken out readily, care for it the same as mentioned above. When the air plant is in a glass which makes it difficult to be removed from, spraying the plant will be the sole way to water it.

A rule of thumb is to take a mental image of how the plant looked when you received it. Over time, and with your watering method, you notice the plant is starting to lose color or become crispy, it may indicate that the Tillandsia is lacking water. Thus spraying needs to be more frequently done, or the air plant must be removed carefully from the glass and soaked well.

For smaller globes, spray less often, and more often when the globe is large and open.

The Ideal Tillandsia’s for growing in hanging balls are the smaller species like Butzii, Ionantha, Fuchsii and Tenuifolia.

Air plants drying outside on a wire hanger.
Air plants drying outside on a wire hanger.

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