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Air Plants

Air Plants Care Instructions

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Tillandsias have undoubtedly fascinated me ever since I first saw them. These “air plants” from the subtropical and tropical New World are simultaneously adorable and bizarre. With over 550 species and counting, deciding on which air plant to grow can be a daunting task. Luckily, air plants are easy to grow, and if you read this article and follow the instructions, you should not have that many problems growing your first air plant, even if it’s your first time.

 

Air Plants

Selecting Your First Air Plant

There is a good chance that you probably ordered your air plants from the internet which means they will have been in the dark for at least a couple of days, so it is vital that they ease into their new surroundings properly. This is the only challenging stage of air plant care. Slowly allowing air plants to acclimatise to the abrupt temperature change (from box to air conditioning or heat) can be made earlier with these quick tips.

 

Air Plants

Acclimatising Your New Air Plants

When you initially take them out of their box, do not be tempted to set them directly in front of an air conditioner, heater or fan and leave them

To lower the plant’s stress, give them a bath for 20 to 30 minutes. Just soak them in a warm bowl of water. (Even if they came from your local market, be sure to soak them first).

Next, you should lay them out drying completely

If you are planning on displaying them in maybe a glass terrarium, a pretty wall hanging display or any kind of enclosed container (or in a hole to stand them up), it is essential that you allow them first drying out completely

Do not plant your air plants in soil, ever, as that would lead to rotting

And, do not let them stay wet for long periods to avoid spoiling

Yes, you may cut the unsightly roots off and peel off the brown leaves. An air plant gathers nutrients through its leaves (or body) and has no use for soil. Roots are nature’s way of attaching air plants to their rock or tree host.

 

Air Plants

Understanding Air Plants

These are the immediate steps to take upon the arrival of your new plants. There is more to know to provide healthy lives for your air plants and their pups (yes pups), like air, light and fertiliser.

But don’t fret. Once you get the idea that these are not earthbound, root dependent potted plants, you view them with a whole other understanding. And, you will see how natural, independent and care free these tree-dwelling, rock hanging beauties can be.

 

Air Plants

Air Plants as a Display

In the wild, air plants, such as Tillandsia, grow without soil and attach themselves to trees, rocks and other supports. Their dull-grey/greenish-blue foliage has no distinct leaves or stems and is covered in tiny pores that allow them to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. The various species of air plant, rosettes or stringy, lend themselves to being displayed in different ways, but they are at their most natural as hanging plants. However, air plants can be housed in almost anything, such as empty seashells.

Air Plant Maintenance

Place air plants in a spot with proper ventilation in bright, but not direct, light. They will need a minimum temperature of 12 C and relatively high humidity. Water by plunging into tepid water (preferably rainwater or soft water) two to three times a week (unless in high humidity, in which case allow drying between watering). A specialist orchid fertiliser can be added monthly to the water (leave the air plant in the water for a few hours when feeding). Rosette-forming plants should be allowed drying facing downwards so that water does not pool in the leaves. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flowers.

 

Air Plants

The Air Plant Family

Tillandsia Cacticola

This plant is named for its habit of growing among cactus and has a tall, projectile inflorescence (a group or cluster of blooms arranged on a stem) with lavender flowers. It is actually quite a rare species, as it only produces one or two “pups” or offshoots, once the flower has died away. It is more at home in bright and warm areas. A problem to look out for is if the edges of the leaves begin to curl upwards more than usual. This is a sign that it requires fully submerging in water for up to 12 hours, to restore its former glory.

Tillandsia fasciculata

This species blooms within the spotted, thorned, stiff leaves of a billbergia, another bromeliad family member. It is also known as a giant air plant and is native to Central America and Mexico. In the wild, they grow in vast quantities on tree trunks, especially in rain forests. It can have as many as 50 leaves, which form a rosette shape, and is an epiphytic organism, which means it grows on the surface of other host plants.

 

Air Plants

Aeranthos

Originating in South America, specifically in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, Aeranthos is an epiphytic air plant that grows mostly on trees. They can grow both as a single plant or groups of between two to 12 plants. Aeranthos is characterised by long grey leaves which are incredibly pointy. They produce a beautiful deep blue three petal flower and can form many pups. This plant tends to thrive in an area with low humidity and can survive in colder temperatures and is one of the most natural air plants to cultivate although it is relatively slow growing.

 

Air Plants

Bergeri

Originating in Argentina, Bergeri is an epiphytic air plant that grows on rocks near the ground. Bergeri produces pups or offshoots throughout the year and is the fastest growing air plant available. It rarely flowers but can produce attractive blue blooms.

Share Your Story

Have you tried growing air plants before? Do you have any tips for their care and maintenance? Please leave a comment or question below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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12 thoughts on “Air Plants Care Instructions”

  1. Now, these are plants that do grow well here in the Western Cape and I have had a number of different ones. They certainly add a lot of interest in a garden. They can be shown off to great advantage particularly where there is a part of the garden that needs few colour. 

    With these plants in flower, hanging in a tree which does not flower or as I have now in a completely dead tree with its branches cut back, they look really striking. The branches of the dead tree made the perfect place to hang these plants and it saved me the bother of digging out the tree roots out. I planted a creeper up the tree and with that and the air plants, it turned out really well.

    Thanks again for all the advice and tips.  I am loving reading these posts.

    Reply
    • Hi – thank you for your interesting comments. That is a great idea adding a creeper and air plants to a tree, something to look at all year round. All the best, Diane.

      Reply
  2. Hello there. Ι haven’t grown any plants but it’s the first time I hear the term air plant. I have seen ivy which grows around its environment but doesn’t know if it’s on the air plant category.

    My mother loves plants very much. Maybe I could get her a gift since these plants look new to me. Haven’t seen them around! I’m from Greece and these plants seem to be from America (North and South).

    As for the maintenance, I found the instructions quite easy (I read the article twice because I don’t really know much about plants!).

    Good job posting this article. Have a nice day.

    Reply
    • Hi – thank you for visiting and adding a comment. If you are new to gardening, then air plants are the ideal choice. All the best, Diane.

      Reply
  3. Thanks a lot for such an amazing review about Air Plants Care and explanations are given.

    I love to grow plants but the first time I hear the term air plant. I find these plants very beautiful with which you can decorate your home. With the sealant, I will grow the plants too.

    Thanks and keep in touch. If you don’t mind, I will share this article on my social media account. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Hi – thank you for visiting my website and reading this article. I am pleased you found it useful, and I hope you have success with air plants. All the best, Diane

      Reply
  4. Thank you for offering such an extensive and educational post about Air Plants. I have a lot of house plants my self, but never acquired Air Plant, because I thought it is a difficult job to look after them. Turns out I was wrong, after your explanation of how to maintain these plants I will be definitely getting one as I think they are truly unique and as you already said, bizarre. Love bizarre 😀

    They give home neatness and freshness I think!

    Reply
    • Hi – thank you for taking a look at my site. I am pleased you have realised how easy it is to look after an air plant, and I hope you get one soon to add to your home decor. All the best, Diane

      Reply
  5. Thanks for this article – there is lots of detail and I feel confident to care for an air plant now that I have read it. I have been looking for some plants for my new apartment and love the hanging air plant displays. I never would have known that I needed to soak the air plant if I hadn’t read this article. Which air plant would you recommend for a complete beginner?

    Reply
    • Hi – thank you for taking a look at my website and leaving a comment. I am pleased you have gained a new interest in air plants. As a beginner, you can’t go wrong with the nicest varieties of Tillandsia, called Ionanthas. They are very easy to look after. All the best, Diane

      Reply
  6. Many thanks to you for sharing such an excellent article with us. I love plants too and wind plants are easy to grow. I have an air plant in my house and I ordered it through the internet. I am very careful about taking care of them and your article is very helpful to me. For these tasks, the temperature is especially important. These plants cannot be placed directly in front of the air conditioner, heater or fan. It is really cool to see the trees and to see their flowers. These plants cannot be planted on the ground and they are decomposed. These plants are really great for display. I have a Tillandsia fasciculata air plant in my house which is my favourite. It is stained, prickly, bursting in hard leaves and is also known as a huge wind plant. This is what I brought from America. Finally, through your article I came to know about Air Plant Care and I will definitely follow these and hopefully grow very well and will share with you new feeling again soon.

    Reply
    • Hi – thank you for visiting my site and leaving such a detailed comment. I hope you have continued success with your air plant. All the best, Diane

      Reply

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