Air Plant Care Tips For beginners: Growing Flowers, Watering

Caring for plants requires effort and knowledge. If you are new to it, there is a great risk of killing many plants in the process. We often want those green natural beings to decorate our home but forget there is more to plants than just buying them. For those of us who like the special charm they give but don’t know what to begin with, air plans are a good start. 

air plant held up

The scientific name for air plants is Tillandsia. The commonly used name for this plant alludes to the place where it grows. Tillandsia attaches itself with roots to the growing tees of other objects. 

It is a common misconception that air plants lead a parasitic lifestyle like mistletoe. In reality, they use trees only to hold on. Tillandsia absorbs all the nutrients through its leaves from moisture and wind. It may be surprising to you because it also uses dust and dirt for nourishment. That is why they do not need a host for any other reason than support.

Because of their unique ability to survive without soil, they benefit your home. You’ll only need special support to which they can attach themselves. That is why Tillandsia is called an air plant. It literally hangs in the air.

air plant

 In nature, Tillandsias are inhibited in jungles, deserts, or at the top of the mountains. You can find them in the US, Mexico, and West India. They are not of the water-dependent kind and are easy to care for. Air plants have special pores on their leaves. During the day, they close the pores to preserve water and open them at night to release oxygen. Like any other vegetation, they cannot survive completely without water.

The interesting fact about air plants is that they bloom once in their lifetime. When it happens, you will see a node that will later grow up at the bottom of it. Before separating it from a parent, let it grow to ¼ inch. After that, an offspring will be able to survive on its own. 

Types & varieties

beautiful air plant

Air plant types range from the simplest ones you buy because of their ease of care to the more evolved ones. One of the most unpretentious Tillandsias you can find on the market is Xerographica. This majestic greenery has a round shape and long leaves. The advantage of it is that it has higher sun tolerance in comparison to other types. It also does not need as much water. 

If you are a beginner, you can start by purchasing Stricta or Brachycaulos. They are all small and suitable for home terrariums. Stricta has green leaves and blooms in a beautiful pink color. If you adore flowers, you know that this one will not wither for about three months. Brachycaulos have pink leaves and can live in various climates.

Aeranthos has rosy flowers and is also beginner-friendly. Tillandsias that have extraordinary shapes are Bulbosa, Caput Medusae, and Streptophylla. Bulbosa’s leaves are similar to tentacles and have a dark green color. Caput Medusae has curved leaves and does not require a lot of water or sunlight. Streptophylla has twisted leaves, and it prospers in a dry climate. 

The other unpretentious air plant is Harrisii. It only needs a basic amount of water and sunlight. When it blooms, your eyes will be pleased to see its deep red color. You can use different objects to display the plant. It will look good on wood, rocks, and shells.

Lifespan

Most air plants live from 2 to 5 years. How long you will live depends on the conditions, environment, temperature, and how much sunlight it gets. During its life cycle, Tillandsia blooms only once. When you see a flower, that means it has reached the peak of its maturity. Unfortunately, maturation means approaching death

When the flower withers, the Tillandsia dies along with it. Before the end, it asexually produces offspring. If you are sad about losing your green friend after having it for a long time, you can propagate it. The easiest way to do it is by separating a pup from the parent. The other way of propagation is called the “sewing method.”

Apart from offspring, Tillandsia also produces seeds. The sewing method is a more complicated way of propagation because the flowers need to be pollinated. The seeds also require the right humidity, temperature, and light to be able to grow into an adult plant. That is why the first propagation method is more certain and easier. 

It often takes several months to a couple of years before they blooms. Once you see the flower, there is no reason to worry that it will die after a couple of days. On the contrary, the blooming period of Tillandsia is quite long and can last for several months. Some types of air plants have beautiful pink or purple flowers. If you have one of those, you will get to enjoy every bit of the blooming process.

The average type of Tillandsia can produce 2 to 3 offspring. How and when it happens depends on the amount of air, light, nutrients, and water the plant gets. You can also not separate an offspring from its parent and let it grow like it often happens in nature. Then your Tillandsia will turn into a long, wire-like plant and create a primordial natural atmosphere in your house.

Sunlight requirements

Tillandsias can’t stand direct sunbeams. It is better to keep them in a well-lit spot. Pay attention to its appearance to decide what is best for your Tillandsia. The ones that have brown or swamp colors come from dry climates and are used to bright light. The green air plants naturally appear in wet climates and require less sunlight and more water. The fuzzy leaves of your Tillandsia indicate that they preserve water better than their relatives.

Watering

It might seem logical that plants that can grow in deserts don’t need regular watering, but that isn’t true. Tillandsia, like any other vegetation, requires moisture to function well. If you don’t water it according to its needs, it will wither and die. If your Tillandsia grows outside and your climate is the same as where it naturally inhibits, you have nothing to worry about. No negligence from your side will hurt an air plant because nature will take care of it on its own. 

Suppose your Tillandsia is a decorative element in your room. Water it once a week. You can also mist it one time every few days. Do not use distilled water for plants because it will remove all the nutrients from them, and they’ll die. Better use rainwater. Filtered or tap water is good for Tillandsia as well.

Soaking air plants

Just watering won’t be enough for an air plant to function. You also need to soak it once a week. This process requires a few steps and may seem complicated when you do it for the first time. Don’t worry. After you do it for the first time, every other time will become easy and automated. 

First of all, pour lukewarm water into the bowl and soak the plants entirely in it. The leaves should not float on the surface. To ease the task, attach a few stones to the plans so they will pull them to the bottom. Let your plants soak for 6 to 8 hours. Then remove them from the water and let them dry on paper towels for at least 5 hours. The final step is to put your Tillandsias on display.

Hanging air plants

hanging air plant

If you’d like your Tillandsia to levitate in space, there are a few different ways to hang it. One way to do it is by using aluminum craft wire. Those are quite cheap and come in different colors. They are also easy to use. You wrap it around the air plant and hang it in the place you like. 

The other thing you might like to do with your Tillandsias is to buy a special hanger for them. You can choose a macrame wall hanger. This creative plexus of laces will only beautify your wall, along with greenery resident in it. As an alternative, you can think of air plant cradles. You can choose the color and material according to your taste.

Displaying them

medium air plant

You can not only hang your Tillandsias but also creatively display them. One of the ideas you can turn into reality is a small terrarium inside of a bulb. If you always throw away burnt bulbs, you might want to consider turning them into something beautiful. 

You can perform the trick with other unnecessary items from your home. Wine corks might do. Just insert the plant inside of a small hole in the cork and water it from time to time with a spritz. When you display an air plant, old and useless junk can become attractive and charming. Your guests will certainly be jealous of your creative decisions.

If you want to show off your plants more elegantly, consider buying a ceramic holder in the shape of a hand on Amazon. It is perfect for homes with minimalistic designs. The white ceramic hand that delicately holds a tiny plant. What can be more tasteful than that?

The other good item for air plant display that you can find on Amazon is a glass terrarium. A retro wooden stand holds three glass vases where you can put your Tillandsia. It would look great in your living room, kitchen, or even bathroom. Glass vases are not only securely held in wooden stands but also made of borosilicate glass. This material is sturdy and highly durable. It won’t easily break even if it falls down.

If you want to put some decorations on your desk to make your work time more pleasurable, consider how cute it would be to see a small wooden mannequin holding a plant. It is made from moisture-resistant wood that will keep its initial look despite any water from the air plant. You can also play with the posture of the mannequin. It has movable limbs, and you can change the way this little person holds a plant as often as you like.

Fertilizer

pin air plants

Fertilizing your plants is the same as if you use some supplements in your diet. You can still function without them, but using them definitely improves your health. Fertilizing them isn’t necessary, but it will certainly do them good. For that, you can use a specific fertilizer for air plants or bromeliad fertilizer. It will be more than enough to add fertilizer to irrigation water a few times a year. After that, your air plant will only thank you for that care with a healthy and lively appearance.

Decor ideas – how to display them

Everyone wants to have appealing decor inside of their houses, but sometimes it’s difficult to come up with ideas. To develop your creativity, think of putting air plants into objects you already have in your home. Those can be mugs, jars, glass vases, pots with holes, or even seashells from your last vacation. The more advanced decorative choices are framed with wires, tree stumps, or even cocoa shells. No matter what you choose, an air plant will make it appealing with its beauty.

Air plant care tips

If you decided that Tillandsia is your choice for the home, here are ten air plant care tips for beginners that will be useful for you.

  1. Copper is poisonous to Tillandsia. Keep any copper objects far from the plant.
  2. Make sure that the temperature in the room is between 50° and 90° F.
  3. If you see a dead leaf, pull it off with your fingers.
  4. Never pour distilled water on them. It removes all the nutrients from it.
  5. Don’t put Tillandsia in a container or terrarium with little access to air.
  6. After soaking it, make sure it dries out completely. Unless you do that, it will rot.
  7. Do not plant Tillandsia in the soil.
  8. Outside ones need more water than inside ones. Assure yourself that they get it.
  9. Do not pour water on the flower when it blooms.
  10. High sodium water will kill Tillandsia.
Where should you buy air plants from?

For beginners who don’t have much vegetation experience, the caring process is difficult. However, it is also challenging to find a place that sells them. You might try to find your local gardening store, but that is time-consuming. The better option is to search for Tillandsia online. There you can see a picture and a description of a product. If you order it, you can be sure it will come to your threshold safely and sound. 
If you are unsure what sort of Tillandsia you want, you can buy a small terrarium kit on Amazon. It consists of 12 plants of different species. They are from 2 to 5 inches each and are perfect for a little tasteful home terrarium. If you have questions about maintenance, you have free support from the owners via email.

Are air plants toxic to dogs & cats?

Pets are often too inquisitive, especially when they start nibbling on plans. Everything is good when the object of their interest is regular grass, but sometimes the plants they nibble on can be toxic. It is natural to be concerned about it when you think about buying one for your home. Now you can breathe out and relax because Tillandsia is a non-toxic plant. 

Even if your pets are fine after nibbling some of your plants, the green residents of your home won’t. Therefore, place your plants in a secure place where animals cannot reach them. With those precautions, everyone will stay happy.