What are Air Plants and how should you care for them 2022

What are Air Plants and how should you care for them 2022

Air plants, whose original name is Tillandsias, have become popular in decoration, but what are these plants and how to care for them? Aerial plants are very peculiar since they do not need soil to live. Therefore, they are ideal for indoors and outdoors.

Depending on their species, these plants can grow in pots or on rocks, and, according to Feng Shui, these are linked to prosperity, harmony, and good energies.

Here we share what air plants are and how to care for them at home.

Air plants are ideal for indoors and outdoors since they do not need soil to grow.

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What are air plants?

Air plants, whose original name is Tillandsias, are a peculiar type of plants since they do not need soil to live. Most of them grow in the treetops to shelter from direct sun and conserve moisture.

Also, other species of aerial plants grow supported on rocks, whose roots only serve as an anchoring method since they do not absorb nutrients or moisture from the plant that supports them.

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Since air plants absorb all the nutrients they need from the air around them through the trichomes on their leaves, they are ideal indoors or outdoors.

In addition, these species are purifying since, according to Feng Shui, air plants help to purify the environment since they are linked to prosperity, harmony, and good energies.

What are air plants?

There are more than 650 species of air plants, which are classified according to their characteristics. However, the most common are:


They are those air plants whose development depends on other plants and shrubs. These species grow supported by other plants, but without developing parasitic attitudes, for example, • Tillandsia ionantha Air carnation • Tillandsia usneoides


These aerial plants can develop their roots on stones, wood, or cement, absorbing nutrients from the humidity and debris accumulated in their support, for example, • Billbergia nutans • Tillandsia Tectorum • Tillandsia cyanea


The green plant’s air lack trichomes and is distinguished by the intense green of its leaves. As they do not have trichomes, these species need temperate climates for their survival, for example, Epidendrum, paniculatum, Vanilla planifolia, Tillandsia bulbosa.


This type of Tillandsias is distinguished by the grayish tone of its leaves and its stems. By having trichomes, these species are more resistant since they can store water and humidity with greater solvency; for example • Magnusiana • Tillandsia didisticha • Tillandsia gardneri Air plants need humidity and indirect light to be kept at home.

How are air plants watered?

Air plants need a large amount of ambient humidity, so it is advisable to spray them occasionally. However, it is important to remove excess water, to prevent its leaves from rotting.

In summer, the sprays should be daily, while it is enough to do it every three or four days in winter. However, if air plants are indoors, it is important to maintain humidity, as it is usually less indoors than outside.

A good tip is to observe the change in the color of the leaves, comparing the tone it acquires when you finish spraying it since this indicates if your plant suffers from a lack of humidity. Also, wrinkling is a sign of dehydration.

Another way to water the Tillandsias is to hydrate them by immersion, especially in large plants. To do this, you can place them in a container for about 20 or 30 minutes to absorb the necessary water and then let them drain before putting them back in place.

What other care do air plants need?

In addition to humidity, air plants need light and ventilation. However, it is recommended to grow them in areas that do not receive direct sunlight for too long, a maximum of two hours a day.

If the plant shows slow growth, it will be necessary to move it to a more illuminated area, especially in winter, since these must receive abundant sun, since the rays are of less intensity and frequency.

Air plants can easily be preserved in pots, wooden objects, or stones. However, in cold areas, it is recommended to grow them indoors to protect them from frost. They can live perfectly in houses, offices, and apartments.

Images for air plants

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Care for Air Plants (Tillandsias)

Aerial plants do not require extensive care and adapt very well to different environments. However, it must be borne in mind that they are living beings that live on-air and need minimal care. We have created this guide to help you recreate an environment as close to the one that air plants have in their natural habitat; in this way, they will grow healthy and happy.

The most important factors for the growth and development of the plant are:


It is recommended that the plant does not receive direct sunlight. If we expose our plants to direct sunlight for a long time, they will end up burning and drying out.

The grayish and silver-colored plants are more tolerant of direct sun rays, as the color of their leaves does not absorb as much heat.

Also, in winter, when the solar rays are not so intense, we can expose them for a longer time to direct sunlight.

If we want to be meticulous and have a light meter at hand, the optimal light output would be about 35,000 lumens, at least 20,000, and at most 55,000.


A good place to place our plants is next to a window, preferably facing south or east, where they will receive the indirect light they need. Do not move them too far from the window; otherwise, the light they need will not reach them so that we can get an idea no more than 2 meters.


If we decide to place our plants outside, such as in the patio, terrace, or porch, we must choose a shady place so that direct sunlight does not burn the leaves.

Artificial light

Aerial Plants can grow and flourish perfectly under artificial light. This solution is perfect for those who wish to have plants in a place where sunlight does not reach.

Incandescent bulbs, which are normally used at home, are not recommended, as they do not emit light in the appropriate spectrum for plant growth, and their intense heat can easily burn them. A better solution is the use of fluorescents that emit a broad spectrum of light

What brand of fluorescent to choose? Phillips, Gro-Luz, Repta-Sun, and Vita-Lite are good candidates.

The optimal distance between the plant and the fluorescent lamps is approximately 30 centimeters. A distance less than 15 centimeters would burn them, and a distance greater than 90 centimeters would not offer the necessary amount of light.

Additional considerations

  • If our plant is inside a glass terrarium, we must be especially careful with the sun’s direct rays because, as we know, the glass can act as a magnifying glass, intensifying the rays and burning our plant.
  • If we want our plant to receive light in equal parts in all its leaves, we must rotate it from time to time.


Although they are called Air Plants, they need water to survive. In their natural habitat, they usually grow in places where the relative humidity is high, around 65%. However, humidity is not a sufficient water source for plants; it only delays their drying out. A hygrometer is used to measure the relative humidity in the air.

We can provide them with water in two ways; through occasional baths or frequent sprays of water. A bath can be done either by immersing the plant in water or by putting it upside down under a stream of water. If the plant has a flower, do not submerge it, damaging the petals.

Irrigation frequency

Although there is no exact number stipulated, about two or three sprays per week and a water bath every two weeks will be enough to provide them with the water they need.

Important, after watering it, the plant must dry in about 4 hours to prevent it from rotting. If we decide to bathe it, shake off the remaining water well by turning it upside down (often, water remains in the internal air chambers of the plant).

If we live in a very hot area and the plant dries in less than an hour, we must provide extra watering since it will not give it time to hydrate properly.

Another consideration to consider when watering them is the size and shape of the terrarium. A small terrarium will retain more moisture than a large one so that the plant will stay hydrated for longer. Also, if the terrarium has several holes, the air circulation will be greater, and therefore, the plant will dry out more quickly.

What are Air Plants and how should you care for them 2022
What are Air Plants and how should you care for them 2022

When to water it

The best time is in the morning. Air Plants obtain their nutrients during the day, taking advantage of the moisture in their leaves to trap the nutrients. On the contrary, the plant needs to be dry to breathe (take CO2 from the air); if we leave it wet, it will suffocate.

If the tips of the leaves are twisted inwards, it indicates that we should water our plant.

Type of water

In general, Air Plants are not very fussy about water quality; they tolerate tap water very well, as long as it does not have a pH greater than 8.

We should not use two types: distilled water because its purity would eliminate the nutrients from the plant and water with high sodium (salt) content.

Ideally, rainwater would be the most favorable for watering them, and the second most favorable would be bottled mineral water.

Additional considerations

  • Do not put your plants on the ground; this humidity will end up rotting the plant. The roots that the plant has are only for support. The nutrients are obtained through the leaves.
  • Ensure that the plant does not settle on a puddle of water, as it will rot.
  • Better to “fall short” in watering than to sin excessively. Recovering the plant when it begins to rot is almost impossible.


Ventilation is very important for Air Plants, mainly for two reasons. The first, to prevent our plant from rotting after watering since, without good ventilation, the humidity will remain inside the plant. And the second, to promote the uptake of nutrients. Air Plants collect nutrients from the air; the more air circulation, the greater the uptake.

For these reasons, the best location inside the house is next to a window. Keeping the plant outside the home should not worry about the air; it will get enough outside.

Additional considerations

If we want to have our plant inside a terrarium, it must have ventilation; it cannot be hermetic. Otherwise, the plant will suffocate and die.

How do you take care of air plants?

The most important need for the plant will be bright, filtered light, so a patio or deck spot where they’ll get indirect sunlight would be the best spot. They’ll need to be watered more often than plants kept inside, especially in dry periods, so grab the garden hose or dunk them in the pond, whatever is easiest.

How long do air plants stay alive?

Tillandsias, commonly known as air plants, are perennial plants. This means that they typically live for more than two years (source), with their lifespan ranging between 2 to 5 years. However, their lifespan varies depending on the type of air plant and also the growing conditions.

Where do you put air plants?

Air plants do best with at least a few hours of bright, indirect sun daily. Placement within 1 to 3 feet of an east- or west-facing window, or within a foot or two of an artificial light source is ideal. If you keep them well watered, they can have hotter, more direct sun and longer exposure. Avoid dimly lit locations.

What are air plants good for?

Air plants are also perfect plants to display in your bedroom because they photosynthesize at night. So while you are sleeping, they emit fresh oxygen into the air. Being among plants can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve focus at home or work

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