How to Grow Plants in Air


Air plants belong to the genus Tillandsia. These fascinating plants native to the Americas collect the water and nutrients they need from the air through structures on the leaves called trichomes. There are over 550 species of Tillandsia, including many hybrids. Air plants reproduce prolifically, so if you start with one within a year, you could have six; within 2 years you could have 30 or more.

Things You'll Need

  • Tillandsia (air plant)
  • Water
  • Air plants may not need dirt, but they do need water. Water must sit on their leaves to be absorbed. In nature this would happen when it rains, dew collects or there is heavy fog. Plants should be able to dry off within four hours. When plants are well watered the leaves will feel stiff. When they are dehydrated, leaves will be pale, softer to the touch, wrinkled, or rolled up. Do not use distilled water or water with a pH higher than eight. Water by soaking the plant with a kitchen or garden hose, or by submerging in water briefly. Do not submerge the flowers under water or they will be destroyed.

  • Air plants require indirect or partial sunlight to full shade. Indoors, keep them no further than 10 feet away from a window.

  • Air plants can be grown in gravel, seashells, pebbles, in ceramic or pottery, or anything that will act as an anchor to hold the plant in place. Avoid anything with copper or a high salt content.

  • Air plants only flower once, before producing pups, or baby air plants. Pups can be left on the parent plant to create a fuller appearance, or removed to create separate plants. Wait until the pup is at least one-third the parent plant's size to ensure it is able to live on its own.

Tips & Warnings

  • Air plants are not toxic to pets.

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