Tillandsia (Air plant) - Expert Tips
How to care for Tillandsia (Air Plant) - Expert tips for Thriving Plants
Tillandsia is a group of plants in the Bromeliaceae family, which includes a bunch of different types of plants like Air Plants. In this article, we'll discuss how to care for Air Plants. It's pretty unique that air plants don't have many roots like other indoor plants. Rather than taking in water from the ground, they absorb it from the air through their leaves. Little grey hairlike structures called trichomes on their leaves absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. This is pretty awesome! Once you know what air plants need, taking care of them is easy. There are over 500 types to choose from, so you can make your own unique collection!
Air Plant care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully
- Soak and mist them frequently. Tillandsias should be watered once a week by soaking them in water and misting them frequently.
- They don't want water standing between their leaves. It's always a good idea to make sure that there's no standing water after watering. If not, it will rot quickly.
- Find a spot with bright filtered light. Tillandsias enjoy lots of light and perform best in such lighting. However, medium-shade works too!
- Make sure there's enough air circulation. Since Tillandsias absorb water and nutrients through their leaves, they need good air circulation to stay healthy.
- Mist and soak your Air Plants in the morning. This lets the excess water evaporate during the day. If you mist in the evening, the plants can get wet overnight, which can cause rot.
- Fertilise occasionally. Tillandsias don't need a lot of fertiliser. It's still a good idea to apply a balanced fertiliser once a month during the growing season to support healthy growth.
- Keeping them away from drafts is a good idea. Try to keep Tillandsias away from drafts and air conditioning vents because they're sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
- Your Air Plant needs some space. Don't pack tillandsias too tightly together, as they need room to grow and breathe. Provide enough space for each plant to grow.
- Don't worry if your Air Plant grows slowly after producing a flower spike. It’s a natural thing. It takes so much energy to flower. Your Air Plant will bounce back and thrive if you take good care of it!
- Some Air Plants may die after flowering, especially those with large and showy flowers. Dont panic! The good news is that it will grow pups before it leaves.
Tillandsia Care Tips
Air plants are tolerant of a variety of lighting conditions. However, they thrive in bright, indirect light (filtered sunlight). Some Air Plants can tolerate direct sunlight but can burn their leaves if it gets too intense. So, keep an eye on them! When your Air Plant is in direct sunlight, you might need to water it more frequently since the sun dries it out more quickly.
Air Plants can handle low-light environments for a short time but won't do well in the long term. So it's important to give them a bright spot to live in if you want them to thrive.
Air Plant watering
Tillandsias get all their nutrients and moisture from the air they live in. Each leaf has a structure to capture as much moisture from the air as possible, and the plant's many leaves lead the water droplets to the base of the plant.
So, unless you live in a hot and humid rainforest, you will have to provide the water your Air Plants need. Here's how to water Air Plants:
Dip your Air Plants into room-temperature water once a week and let them soak for an hour. After soaking, carefully shake off the excess water from the plants. Place the Air Plants in a well-ventilated area and allow them to dry off completely before putting them back in their place. Flip your Air Plants upside down to let any trapped water drain out. Check the plants after four hours. When they are completely dry, put them back in their display. Make sure your Air Plant isn't wet! Otherwise, they will start to rot very quickly.
Mist the Air Plants every few days to provide them with additional moisture. If you're in a dry place or going through a heat period, you can mist more often and consider giving them a second bath every week. Or try putting your air plants in the bathroom before you take a long, hot shower. They will love the moist steam!
Expert tip! Pay close attention to how your Tillandsia Air Plants look and feel before and after their bath. You'll see what a difference it makes to your plants to be well-hydrated. The leaves are more open and flexible, and the colour is brighter. Then you will know what your Tillandsia looks like when it is thirsty!
Fertilising your Air Plants is not necessary but leads to better health, growth, and flowering. Additionally, well-fed Air Plants are better able to handle difficult circumstances such as their parents' two-week holidays.
Once a month, use a fertiliser specially formulated for bromeliads or Air Plants or dilute our PLNTS nutrition in water to 1/4 strength. You can put the fertiliser in soaking water or use a spray bottle and spray its leaves with it.
Temperature & humidity
Air Plants are tropical plants that love warm and humid environments. To keep them happy and healthy, try to find a spot for them with temperatures between 15°C to 32°C and a humidity level of 40-60%. Although they prefer these conditions, Air Plants can tolerate lower temperatures and humidity for short periods of time. Learn more about humidity and temperature for houseplants.
Summer is also a great time to take air plants outside for some fresh air. Just make sure to find them a nice spot in the shade where they won't get too much direct sunlight. Remember to give them enough water if the weather is hot and dry.
Do Air Plants need soil?
Unlike regular plants, Air Plants don't need soil to anchor their roots and absorb nutrients. Instead, they get what they need from the air around them. Air Plants absorb moisture and nutrients through specialised structures on their leaves called trichomes. These trichomes are covered in a waxy substance that helps the plant absorb moisture from the air as well as nutrients. This is so unique!
Air Plants are really easy to propagate. They produce lots of pups (baby plants), which can be removed and grown into new plants with minimal effort.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to propagate Air Plants with pups:
- If your Air Plant is producing pups, wait until they're at least one-third the size of the parent.
- Leave the Air Plant in water for 2-3 hours to hydrate it. This makes the work easier.
- Place the Air Plant on a flat surface and carefully spread out the leaves. It is always good to use your hands for this, as this will help you to locate where the plants are attached.
- Once you have located the young plants, separate them from the mother plant. You can use a plier or scissors for this or do it by hand. Make sure you pull them apart at the base.
- Once you have safely separated the pup, just keep it hydrated by soaking it in a bowl of water like with mature Tillandsia.
Tillandsia plants usually produce 2-8 babies, but it varies from plant to plant. Some Air Plants make babies before they flower, while others wait until after. The longer the babies stay on the mother plant, the faster they will grow up.
But it's best to remove the pups when they're small, so the mother plant can focus on growing more babies, and you can get more Air Plants!
Most common pest on Tillandsias
Air Plants are vulnerable to rot and fungus. If the humidity rises or the leaves have excess moisture in any way, Air Plants will rot and develop fungus very quickly. In this case, leaves can start to fall off. Excessive humidity can also turn the leaves black. When this happens, the Air Plant may have already surrendered to rot.
Pests are particularly attracted to dying Air Plants. You can expect an infestation when the leaves start to rot, turn brown, or become crusty. Mealybugs and scale insects are the most common pests but have different symptoms. To be sure which pest is bothering your plant, we recommend you visit our PLNTS doctor page.
Is the Tillandsia toxic for pets or children?
Good news! Tillandsia, also known as Air Plants, are not poisonous to pets or children. So if your cat, dog or child is a little too fond of nibbling on the leaves of your Air Plant, don't worry!
Although Air Plants are not poisonous, we do recommend keeping them out of reach of your pets and children. Not only because they can be a choking hazard (for smaller animals, for example) but mainly because losing your precious Tillandsia can be a real turn-off.
Buy your Tillandsia online at PLNTS.com
At PLNTS.com you can buy your new Tillandsia online, for example the Tillandsia Harrisii. Whether like you your PLNTS big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - buy Air Plants online at PLNTS.com.