How to Care for Air Plants

Yay, your air plants arrived! So you unpack your beauties to marvel at giving them names and a soak of water.

You gently shake the excess water and set them in a bright spot with ample air circulation to dry.

What now and what comes next? How do you care for air plants except for marvel at their beauty? Well, we have you covered with some helpful air plant care tips.

Air Plants Plant Care

air plants

The Tillandsia genus is known as air plants and is easy to care for. Still, they need the proper environmental conditions to thrive.

While they are air plants, these plants do not need soil. However, they take their nutrients from the air and still need water with light to survive.

Technically they are epiphytes growing on host trees and other plants. Yet, they do not steal their host’s nutrients and have tiny vessels on the leaves called trichomes to capture moisture and nutrients from the air.

Where Should You Grow Your Air Plant?

air plants

Well, for starters, you will not grow your air plant species in the soil as they mostly grow in water. But there are other excellent options as well. So do not let the lack of soil scare you out of your wits.

You can grow your air plants in a globe or terrarium but will need to remove your plant for watering. You will need to leave your plant out to ensure that it dries and takes up to four hours.

Alternatively, you can give it a misting for humidity in a terrarium when it comes to air plant care. So, the more compact the globe needs less misting while a terrarium provides better air circulation.

You can still give it a few sprays of water a few times a week. But prevent overwatering.

Indirect Light for Air Plants

air plants under some trees

Air plant care needs the right lighting conditions and is very important. If you keep these tropical plants indoors, they need enough light. You can place them in globes about three to five feet away from the window.

Or you can place them under artificial lights. Still, your air plants must not receive too much direct sunlight as it harms the leaves. So keeping your air plant outside grows best in bright light with partial shade and not full sun.

Some air plant varieties can handle direct sunlight. Some great places for your new air plants are the bathroom or kitchen, where they can receive moisture from the steam.

How To Water Air Plants

Watering air plants is not like watering other house plants. As the plant does not have roots and holds onto other surfaces, they get nutrition from moisture in the air. So, in your home, you will need to water your air plants once a week.

You can find some varieties that can go without water for two weeks. The best is to keep an eye on the air plant’s leaves when they look wilted. There will be times during summer when your plant needs frequent watering.

To water your air plant remove it from the globe and take it to the sink, or you can use a small jar. The best is to submerge your plant into the water. It is the best watering method as you can leave it submerged for half an hour.

Remove your plant and gently shake it to dislodge the water, and turn it upside down on a towel to drain and dry. Also, provide your plant with enough air circulation to dry. Once your plants dry, you can return them to their favorite spot. Furthermore, you can mist your air plant occasionally in between baths to look fresh.

misting air plant

You can do misting in winter when the air is dry in your home. Another important thing is the type of water you use. We do not recommend using distilled water. Neither should you use softened water because of the salt content.

With filtered water and tap water that has sat for a while on the counter, it gives the chlorine enough time to disperse. As a result, growing your Tillandsia spp as an outdoor plant will receive enough moisture. But indoors with drier air, you may need to water often.

Also, if you notice water in a globe where your air plant grows, the best is to throw it out. As your plant absorbs moisture from the air, it does not enjoy wet feet and will not survive.

Fertilizer Needs

water soluble fertilizer for air plants

The best feed for your air plant is a Bromeliad fertilizer used twice a month. Using the feed enhances blooming and reproduction. You can use a water-soluble fertilizer at 1/4 strength if you cannot find the Bromeliad.

If you use pond or aquarium water, we do not recommend using fertilizer as it is an organic feed.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

The most important thing for your plant is clean air with enough air circulation. Regarding temperature, the general rule is to provide them with warm weather and not cold air.

The plant, unfortunately, will not survive in temperatures below 45°F. 50 to 90 degrees F would be ideal for them. Hence, during the winter, it is best to bring your plants indoors to keep them dry and under-watering.

As for humidity giving it a misting during winter and in dry climates helps refresher the plant. It is essential not to expose them to any cold drafts or too much dry air.

Maintaining Air Plants

flowering air plant

Your air plant needs grooming by removing the lower leaves as it dries out when it grows. You can remove the leaves and gently twist them off. If the leaf tips look dry, you can snip the ends off. You can do the same to the roots as they regrow quickly.

As Tillandsias come from the tropics, they can bloom and produce flowers once. The flowers are striking with brilliant colors and last for several days to months. Still, it depends on the species.

You may find air plants bloom between mid-winter and summer. Furthermore, they will produce pups or offshoots and can be removed by pulling them off the parent plant. Doing this is a downward motion.

Alternatively, you can grow air plants into clumps leaving the pups on the mother plant to grow.

Propagating The Mother Plant

When it comes to propagating air plants, there are a few ways you can do this. The best way to propagate epiphytic plants is through pup division or stem cuttings.

Propagating Air Plants by Division

  1. Take hold of the base of the plant to wiggle the pups from the mother plant. If the pups do not pull apart easily, you can use a knife to remove them.

  2. Once removed, care for your new baby plant as you would for your mother plant.

Stem Cuttings

  1. Using pruning shears, take four to five-inch stem cuttings.

  2. Leave the cutting in a cool, dry location callous over.

  3. Fill a glass or vase with purified or filtered water. Place the bottom end of the cutting in the water.

  4. Set your cutting in bright, indirect light and refresh your plant with water weekly. After a few weeks, new roots will form in the water.

Air Plants Varieties

There are multiple plant families you can classify as air plants, and here are some of the popular types of air plants you can find.

Bromeliaceae

Bromeliaceae

The Bromeliad family is the most prominent family of air plants. While not all of them are epiphytic many of them, have adapted to filtered light and thrive on air alone. These include the Tillandsia and Guzmania species absorbing water through the trichomes on the leaves using the roots as support.

Orchidaceae

Orchidaceae

The orchid family has different epiphytic plants that include Phalaenopsis orchids. The plants use their roots for support and absorb water from the surrounding environment.

Cactaceae

Cactaceae

Okay, we are not referring to your desert cactus but primarily those belonging to the Cactaceae family and native to Central and South America. Some popular air plants are the Christmas cactus, Fishbone cactus, Easter Cactus, and more.

Common Problems With Air Plants

When growing air plants indoors, there are some problems you can find from incorrect humidity and watering.

Brown Leaf Tips

Browning tips are a sign your plant is not getting enough moisture. The first step is to increase the humidity around your plant before increasing the water.

As this plant grows without soil, air plants need high humidity to survive. Thus, we recommend placing a humidifier close to your plant.

If you find the problem persists on new growth after lifting the humidity. Then try more frequent watering.

Mushy Limbs

This is a sign of overwatering, and saving your plant becomes difficult. Yet, if you catch it early, you can remove the stems and leave your plant with dry periods before watering again.

Where to Buy Air Plants?

The fantastic thing is as you have different species of air plants, you can find them at your local nursery. Alternatively, you can find one here with Plantly online.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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