Air Plants: Growing and Taking Care of Them

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air plants

If you are trying to grow indoor houseplants and have failed over and over again, try growing air plants in your home.

When you look at air plants, you might think of them as otherworldly the way they grow.

They do not need soil to grow and their leaves can look like long tentacles or like an appendage of an exotic sea creature.

Over the past few years, these stunning plants have become quite famous, appearing in every garden center or even in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Moreover, you can also find them online at different nurseries that specialize in air plants, especially the more unusual types.

It is important to note that air plants are a little different than other plants in growth, thus, we have gathered everything in this article you need to learn about them.

So let’s dig right into it.

Air Plants

Air plants or Tillandsia app, are epiphytes that are plants that grow on other host plants, usually on the ranches of the.

There are hundreds of species and varieties of air plants. You will observe that these plants have strap-shaped or slender triangular-shaped leaves.

These grow in a rosette pattern with new growth appearing from the center.

air plants 1

However, those with silver foliage tend to be the most drought-resistant, while the greener types dry out faster.

You can find colorful species like tillandsia maxima that can have coral leaves.

Most species produce attractive, tubular, or funnel-shaped flowers as well.

Taking Care of Air Plants

If you are scared of the fact that air plants do not need soil, then do not let this fact scare you.

Air plants are easy to care for once you learn to know what they need.

You may also have not to worry about potting them, however, they do need a certain amount of water and light.

Moreover, they also need the right temperature to grow just like other houseplants.

You will understand what your air plant needs once it sends up flowers.

However, once the flower dries out, just snip it off and your air plant will continue to grow and eventually making more blossoms.

Types of leaves of Air Plants

The appearance of your air plants can help you to decide on how to care for them.

There are 2 types of leaves: Fuzzy leaves and smooth, glossy leaves.

Let’s discuss them as follows:

Fuzzy Leaves

These leaves are feathery, while, silver in color, and have dusty coatings that indicate xeric types.

These come from sunny dry climates where there is less rainfall. Their pronounced trichomes collect maximum water when it falls and hold it for use during dry periods.

Moreover, they need watering only once or twice a week and can tolerate more sun.

fertilizing them

Smooth, Glossy Leaves

The ones with smooth and glossy leaves are most common on mesic types that come from shaded, most rain, and cloud forests.

There is plenty of rainfall for these plants to receive and have less pronounced trichomes.

Moreover, they need less protection from drying out and hot sun and need more frequent watering.

The best way to water your air plant depends on the plant, its location, and your own preferences.

You can use rainwater, tap water, however never use softened water as the salt in it can damage your plants.

Watering and Fertilizing your Plants

Based on the types of leaves your air plants have, you can water and fertilize them accordingly.

You can choose the following ways for your plants:

Misting: It is perfect for plants that you place inside globes or displays.

Moreover, if you have daily interactions with your plants, then it is a good option for you.

Mist at least 3 to 7 times a week, depending on the type of plant, and try not to wet all the surface.

Dunking: Dunking is good for the plants that are attached to wood or freestanding.

This is also good for the plants that are dense or have very curly leaves that are hard to mist thoroughly.

You can dip the whole plant for a short period of time into a pan of water or freshwater fish tank, or put it under a running faucet.

watering them

Use this method 2 to 4 times per week for mesic types and once a week for xeric types.

Soaking: It helps revive dry plants.

Submerge your whole plant for 1 to 3 hours and use this method once a week or after a long period of neglect.

After watering your air plants, shake out the excess water so that no standing water remains in the center.

Let your plant dry in a well-ventilated place so that they do not remain wet.

However, water them more frequently in air conditioning, hot weather, and desert climates.

But less frequently in cool, cloudy weather.

For fertilizing your air plant, only fertilize them once or twice a month with a water-soluble orchid or tillandsia fertilizer.

Make sure to follow the instruction on the label for dilution.

Use misting or dunking method and only use these fertilizers as they do not contain urea nitrogen, which air plants cannot use.

Air Plant Light Requirments

As a general rule, keep your air plants out of direct sunlight and remember that in the wild, they tend to grow in a shelter or shady canopy of trees.

Moreover, they will grow best when you place them in a brightly lit spot out of the rays of the sun.

However, a few species of air plants like T. cyanea or T. lindenii can handle some dappled shade or less intense morning sunlight.

Additionally, the humidity of your environment also dictates how much direct light air plants can handle.

air plants 2

In general, if they are living in a humid environment, they will be able to handle a bit more sunlight as they will not dry out as quickly.

As they require indirect sunlight, these plants make great office plants as long as they get some light, either indirectly or from an artificial source.

It is important to note that some species of air plants do well in direct sunlight like Xerographica that can take full sunlight.

Air Plants Temperature Requirments

Air plants love to thrive in warm weather, so it is the other end of your thermometer you need to watch.

Make sure to protect your plants from anything colder than 45 degrees, as they will die in such temperatures.

However, if you live in Zone 9 or warmer, you can grow them outdoors all year if you keep them dry during the winter.

temperature conditions

If the weather conditions are too hot in your region, make sure to place your air plants in a shady region especially when the sunlight most hits it.

Moreover, during extreme heat, inspect your plant every other day and look for signs of over-drying.

If they seem wilted, or you notice browning on the leaf, then make sure to water your plants more.

Consider adding fertilizers as an extra shot of nutrition during the extreme heat that will benefit your plant.

Pruning your Plants

Just like other plants, you will have to trim or prune your air plants periodically to maintain their beauty.

The following are some tips to help you with pruning your air plants:

Dead Leaves

It is natural for your air plant to lose some leaves as they grow in the changing environment.

As with other plants, some dead leaves do not mean that there is something wrong with your plant, or it is wilting or dying.

However, be cautious when removing dead leaves as sometimes a pup will be growing under the shelter of one of these leaves.

In such a case, it is good to leave the leaf on until it grows to about 1/3 the size of the mother plant.

no soil

Browning Leaf

You might observe your air plant has slight browning on its leaf tips.

This can be the indication of too much light or too little water.

Thus, do not trim your plant away with these browning tips without harming the plants.

Instead, tilt your scissors and trim at an angle for a more natural look.

However, if the leaves are browning or starting to curl, this can be a sign that they need more water or low levels of light.

Broken Leaves

It is not uncommon for your air plants to have broken or damaged leaves here and there.

These are, however, still perfectly healthy and you can trim the broken leaves at an angle to clean up the look of your plant.

Take care while trimming or pruning your air plants and make sure not to cut off too much of the length of the healthy leaves.

While hardy and tolerant, cutting them too much can reduce the surface area for the plants to absorb their nutrients.

Styling Air Plants

Air plants look great, either on their own or in groups where you can place several varieties together. You can place them in terrariums or attack them to anything from magnets to driftwood for creating your own interesting displays.

Tillandsia makes fine companions on a branch with orchids as they like the same conditions. However, you can also find glass or plastic globes that are specifically made for hanging them.

For varieties like Tillandsia aeranthos ‘Amethyst’, that have colorful leaves, try using a container that complements or contrasts their beautiful hues.

As these plants do not need soil you can display them in about any way you can imagine. Try using them as an air plant wreath, hanging mobile, or even a beach-themed terrarium that complements their resemblance to an octopus.

2 thoughts on “Air Plants: Growing and Taking Care of Them

  1. Pingback: Air Purifying Plants: For your Indoors - Al Ardh Alkhadra - Home

  2. Pingback: Indoor Hanging Plants: Tips and Care - Al Ardh Alkhadra

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