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Tillandsias (Air Plants)

Tillandsias, part of the Bromeliad family, are fascinating plants! The ones I’m showing you are epiphytic Tillandsias which in nature grow are attached to other plants.

You might know them as Air Plants, which is their common name. They definitely have a wacky and interesting growth form which makes them prime decorating material.

Another big bonus is that they’re oh so easy to maintain and well suited to our interior environments which add to their appeal.

You’ve probably seen them in hanging glass globes but there are so many other ways you can use them to accent your home.

We sell Air Plants on our website and will be adding more varieties in the future, so be sure to click on that link.

Air plants are versatile and unique

Resting in a geode

Options to display your air plants

Accenting a candlestick holder

Air plants among houseplants

Hanging in a shell

Air plants in a shell

Nestled in a shell

Air plant tablescape

With Succulents & glass disks as a tablescape

Air plants on cork bark

 On cork bark

Air plant "tree"

A Zinfandel grape “Tillandsia tree”

Add your air plant to another plant

Attached to a plant

Tillandsias are great for urban dwellers with no or limited outdoor space. Travel a lot?  Then these plants are for you.

Just give them a mist before you go and they’ll be fine when you arrive back home.  Just make sure you can easily take them to the sink or dunk them in a pail for their monthly soak.

No soil required – how fabulous to have a plant you never have to worry about transplanting!

Air plants on display

Rainforest Flora’s Tillandsias hanging on Tilly Hanger

By the way, did you know that Spanish Moss is a Tillandsia?  It’s that same lacey stuff that drips from Oak and Cypress trees in the South.  I am used to seeing it boxed and sold in the floral trade but the picture below shows it being sold live at the Southern California Spring Garden Show.

Spanish moss for sale

 Ethereal clumps of live Spanish Moss for sale

I’ve had the same Tillandsias for years now which at one time graced the interior of Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) in Chicago for their annual Spring Flower Show.

The theme was “Curious George” and a variety of Tillandsias was scattered throughout the jungle-themed display.  At the end of the four weeks, a select few were packed in my suitcase and flown back to San Francisco with me.

I’ve since moved south and they now reside in the froggy pot (completely empty – no soil) pictured below which is on my covered front porch where I see them often throughout the day.   Santa Barbara’s temperate climate allows them to live outdoors all year long.

Air plants

My personal stash

How I care for Air Plants is oh so simple. The light is bright and they receive an hour or two of the direct morning sun. I live seven blocks from the ocean so there is usually a bit of a breeze which is good because they need adequate air circulation. If there is no morning fog then I mist them once a week.

Once a month they go into a pail for an overnight soaking. That’s it on the watering instructions. They are very slow growing and apparently fertilizing them will speed up the growth process a bit (not much though) and encourage a bit of flowering. They are not sold and collected for they extravagant flower displays, however!

Air plants getting a bath

A few of mine getting their monthly bath

They are also great to use for Christmas decorating. But that my friends is a whole other blog post. So now that you know how easy they are, why not give them a try? A word of warning: they are not cheap so you may have to build up your collection slowly. Tillandsias may just become your next decorating obsession!

Another warning: cats, like my omnipresent Oscar who jumps into any and every interior photo shoot, love their crunchy leaves!

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  5. I love air plants, but they tend to die when I have to bring them indoors in the winter. Tennessee’s winters get too cold for them, so they spend about 3 months indoors in a house heated to about 72 degrees. What can I do to bring them through the winter? I have no problem with my orchids. Judy G.

  6. Hi Judy – I have recently moved to the desert so I’m going to be doing a video & post on that very subject soon. It’s not so much the temps of our houses but the dryness. Give them bright light & water them 1-3 times a week. That might be spraying or soaking. I’ve found that the air plants with thicker leaves are much more durable. The fine leafed varieties don’t fair as well as houseplants. Nell

  7. I am fascinated with air plants, and plan on getting a few soon. I have some on my Amazon wish list.
    But had questions: 1. Are they toxic to cats (but since I saw your Oscar, above with the plants, I’m guessing they are not. That’s a relief. 2. Are they beneficial to our air quality inside.
    Thank you Nell. Glad I found you.
    Tisa Lynch

  8. Hi Tisha – I’m glad you found us too! I love air plants & have been growing them for years. I’m doing a series on bromeliads right now (air plants are in the bromeliad family) & all are reported to be non-toxic for cats & dogs. The only thing with air plants is the fact that some kitties love their chewy leaves. It can upset their stomachs & make them sick but it won’t poison them. Air plants, like all plants, do release oxygen at night. However, they’re not considered 1 of the “clean 10”. Nell

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