Tillandsia is their botanical first name but these fascinating beauties are commonly called Air Plants because they don’t grow in soil. Look ma, no dirt! A few of them, like the Tillandsia cyanea, can grow in soil too. If you want to learn how to care for Tillandsias.
They’re epiphytes, and in their natural environments, grow attached to other plants usually under the canopy of a tree. Don’t worry – they’re not parasitic like that oh so popular holiday smoochin’ plant the mistletoe. The host plant is merely their means of support.
The care for these unusual plants is super simple. I’ll break it into 6 categories so it’s crystal clear for you. There’s a video, How to Care For Your Air Plants, waiting for you at the end of this post.
How To Care For Your Tillandsias aka Air Plants
Bright, indirect light is best. Make sure your air plants don’t get any hot, direct sun or that they aren’t in deep shade. The light conditions they require are very similar to pothos or dracaenas. That being said, those with more color in their foliage or thick foliage can take more light.
This is the same with bromeliads. They’re in the same family by the way. I have bromeliads in my garden and some can take more sun than others. My tillandsias live outdoors on my covered porch and enjoy the bright light with only an hour or so of morning sun every day.
When growing air plants as houseplants, they need bright natural light to do their best. Just be sure to keep them out of any hot, direct sun or they’ll burn.
This is simple; no need to make it more complicated than it is. They like temperatures no higher than 85 or 90 degrees and none below freezing.
It’s best to spray or soak (for 15 minutes) your air plants 1-2 times a week. If you are drier, then soak or spray them more often and longer. Your temperature throughout the year will play a part also.
I’m an exception – I live in Santa Barbara, CA only 7 blocks from the ocean so mine that lives outdoors take moisture out of the air. I soak them only once every 4-5 weeks and the smaller ones get a good spray once a week.
They don’t like any salts (some of us have more in our tap water than others do) so I let the water sit in the pail for a few days before I soak them. I do the same with the water in the spray bottle. The finer leaf varieties would benefit from a soaking more often but don’t them let soak too long. They’ll “mush” out. Be sure to shake off all the excess water.
And, a plant that’s blooming doesn’t like to be soaked.
A fertilizer specific for bromeliads is best. Either soak them in the fertilizer mixed with water or take them to the sink and spray them if they’re attached to something like a rock or piece of wood. They really don’t need the fertilizer but they’ll grow a little faster, and pup (make new baby plants) and flower a bit more if you do.
I give most of my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2? layer of each for a larger sized houseplant. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.
Another simple one – they need it to make sure they have it.
TOXIC TO ANIMALS
This can be a concern with indoor plants. They are not toxic to pets but I know from experience (Oscar, my tuxedo kitty, partially chewed three of them) that cats love to munch on their crunchy leaves.
They are great for crafting, creating and for kids as a starter plant. We offer you a nice little variety of air plants direct from a local greenhouse right to your home so be sure to check out the link right HERE. Be warned: once you get a few, you’ll want more!
P.S. Here is the video in case you didn’t catch it before!