10+ AIR PLANT CARE TIPS you need to know about!

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Air Plant Care Tips from varieties, species, maintenance, temperature & lighting, air flow, blooming, cleaning pests, color dye on air plants.

Air Plant Care Tips

10 best air plant care tips to keep the most amazing plants in top shape! Why? Because they are epiphytes, which means they grow without soil and the varieties are just spectacular. They are so special because they have an incredible ability to absorb water and nutrients from the air through their leaves, making them so low maintenance.

The ‘air plant’, Tillandsia; genus is known for growing without soil and use air alone to survive. This post will go over all you need to known on how to care for air plants; where are air plants from, varieties, species, maintenance (watering by dunking & misting), temperature & lighting, air flow, blooming, cleaning brown leaves, pests and even about color dye on air plants . Let’s go over each one so you can grow your collection.

You do have to enjoy air plants because they are slow growers. The exception to this is the the spanish moss, this one will grow very quickly.

Air plants are so different, very efficient in absorbing and conserving water and energy.

Now, the oils in your skin are not good for your air plants. Don’t over handle them and try to hold them by the base instead of the leaves.

One of the most important things to be aware of, when learning about air plant care tips, is that the roots are only to hold on to a surface and not to absorb nutrients. Because of this, they are not parasitic, they do not absorb the nutrient from their host.

air plant care tips

MY FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT AIR PLANTS!

My husband took me to two places a couple of years ago and I always have to go back and visit to see what new air plant they get. Go check on your favorite local garden centers and they will usually have amazing selection of air plants.

They always have such beautiful displays of air plants! And what I love most is that they provide you with any information regarding air plant care tips.

I get so many ideas when I go visit, the possibilities to display air plants are endless.

Check out my post ’11 CREATIVE DECOR COFFEE TABLE | DIY’ to get decorate with air plants! READ HERE!

decorate with air plants
Look at the tags on the air plants. Usually the tag will note the name of the air plant.

And garden centers get creative with the displays! They provide so much inspiration.

Another of my favorites are succulents! You want to make an arrangement with the most beautiful succulent? Check out my post ‘SUCCULENT GARDEN DIY | DESERT ROSE BEAUTY!’ READ HERE!

tillandsia ideas
Dyed air plants are so much fun!

1. WHERE ARE AIR PLANTS FROM

Another interesting fact about air plants is where they are from.

The origin of your plant will impact how you care for your air plant.

It is so interesting, because they originate from both tropical environments, including mountains and they are also from desert environments.

The main reason that it is important to know where is your air plant is from and the environments it grows in, to provide the correct air plant care when it comes to amount of natural light and watering. Let’s explore where they are from:

LOCATIONNative to South of the United States; Florida, Georgia and a few in Texas
Mexico, Central and South America
GROW INDesert, Cloud Forest and Mountains
GROW ONNaturally on rocks and trees.
Attach to objects
Epiphytes: Grow on other plants

2. AIR PLANT VARIETIES

Now that you know where air plants from, we can go over specifics for each type; Xeric Variety and Mesic Variety.

This information will help you physically identify the type you have in order to provide the right air plant care.

XERIC VARIETYDesert Plant (dry climate)
Leaves have fuzzy look.
Tolerates more light but less water
Have thicker leaves and prefer dry areas.
MESIC VARIETYTropical / Mountain (humid climate)
Leaves are smooth and green.
Have thinner leaves and prefer wet areas, high humidity.
Tolerates lower light but requires more watering
where are air plants from
My favorite is the Air Plant Xerographica! Beautiful example of a Xeric Air Plant.

So many species are available, but my favorite is the tillandsia xerographica. The large size and leaves that trail on them as they grow larger is an amazing and striking feature.

3. SPECIES OF AIR PLANTS

Let me tell you a little secret, the greatest part about air plants is that if you don’t water it weekly the leaves will curl inward and give you a different look that you may end up loving. You just need to be careful and not overdo the period you don’t water to be too long.

AMOUNT OF SPECIESOver 600 Species in the wild
NATURAL HYBRIDSUnique types
Hybridize with other Tillandsia, making an altogether new species
MAN MADE HYBRIDSMost Unique types
FRAGRANT AIR PLANTMost Fragrant beautiful smell is from the Tallandsia Crocata

4. AIR PLANT MAINTENANCE CARE TIPS

This is the main reason I love air plant, the maintenance is so easy!

Talking about air plants tips, have you ready my post ‘I really love repurposing items to store, such a great tip!’ READ HERE FOR GREAT ORGANIZING PLANT TIPS!

How do I know the air plant is thirsty?

The air plant will let you know when it is thirsty:

  • Leaves curl when the air plant is dry and needs a drink.
  • The leaves will fold on itself.
how to soak air plants
Note how the leaves begin to curve inward and curl as it begins to need water.

How to I know when I have water the air plant thoroughly?

On the Xeric Variety, when watered the silver fuzzy color turns darker green. The trichomes get wet (this is the white fuzz on the leaves) and have had enough water, they become transparent and allows the green to be visible.

Follow the chart below for specifics on watering outdoors or indoors for your air plants. Depending on the location, you will water accordingly, but keep in mind that the type of air plant and humidity present will fluctuate and needs may need to be adjusted. The chart below is a good guide for most environments.

We will go over Outdoor watering, indoor watering, Dunking methods and misting air plants.

Watering Air Plant Care Tips

The watering schedule depends on the type of air plant you have and wether you are keeping it indoor or outdoors.

Here is a quick guide on watering:

WATERING CARE TIPS
OutdoorThey prefer outdoor natural watering but is not necessary.
Best to mount horizontal or upside down for trailing plants.
Rain water will run by it and will be absorbed by the leaves.
IndoorUse filtered water when possible.
Or allow water to stay out overnight to get chlorine to evaporate.
Thicker leaves need watering more often than the thinner leaves.
Add small amount of fertilizer to water you are dunking in.
DUNKING METHODS
Option 1Dunk quickly 2 -4 times a week for 20 minutes
Option 2Once a week soaker method; 1-2 hour.

The most important thing to keep in mind when watering is not to allow the water to pool in the middle core of the plant. Make sure to always shake your plant while upside down until all the water is out of the interior of the plant.

If you use fertilizer, make sure that it is only 1/4 of the strength in order not to burn the plant.

diy air plant display

Misting Air Plant Care Tips

Misting is not necessary, but when you want more of a personal one on one relationship with your plant, this is a great way.

MISTING CARE TIPSMisting daily is a great method when it is a Mesic air plant specie.
Not necessary if you prefer the dunking method.
You may add a small amount of fertilizer once a week to the mist bottle,
they don’t require a lot of nutrients
Chemicals or organic fertilizers can burn leaves.
Use a 1/3 of the strength to prevent any damage.
Is best to under fertilize than over fertilize our air plant.

Type of Water to Use when Taking Care for an Air Plant.

The water you use is critical to the growth of your air plants and how well it does.

I am providing a chart, but it is important to water your air plants as needed, rather than to get special water. The only ones I would stay clear from are the ones below that show ‘Do Not Use’.

Enjoy the process of watering, it is an opportunity to connect with your plants, see if they are about to bloom, check for diseases or if it is growing babies and just bond.

BEST WATER SOURCERain Water is the absolute best water source.
SECOND BEST WATER SOURCEFiltered Water
THIRDS WATER SOURCESink Water
If you can, leave it out for 24 hours and the chlorine will dissipate.
DO NOT USE!Water that contains a softener
Distilled Water

5. WHAT IS THE BEST TEMPERATURE FOR AN AIR PLANT?

LIGHTING REQUIREMENTSDo not exceed a couple of hours of direct sunlight
8 hours of indirect sunlight
60 – 90 degrees is best
Air Plants are not frost hardy.

To get inspired by air plants for your decorating, check out my post ‘BEST WAYS OF DECORATING WITH NATURAL ELEMENTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT! READ HERE

6. WHY AIR FLOW IS SO CRITICAL FOR AIR PLANTS.

I have shown ways to display on some of my posts.

You can find so many ways to display your air plants in very dramatic ways without enclosing them completely.

AIR TURNS INTO NUTRIENTSAir Plants require air flow to get nutrients.
Provide good air flow.
Air Plants can purify the air at nights. It would require
thousands of them in a room, but they are
great plants for the environment.

For a great idea for how to decorate with Air Plants and still have great air flow check out ‘Creative Air Plant Display idea DIY’. READ HERE!

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Check out more gardening tips!

How to Store Your Seeds and Get Organized

How To Make A Small DIY Living Gallery Wall

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24 Comments

  1. Now I know why my airplants never lasted!
    i definitely handled them wrong and didn’t know the proper watering method. Thanks for sharing, This was interesting to read,

    1. LOL! so happy you now know how to care for them. You have to let me know how it goes, I would love it!

  2. Melba, this post was very informative. I love plants and would love to have some of these. You had some many different kinds. I will see if our local nurseries get any.

    1. Tammy, you would love them! They are such interesting plants and you can do so much with them. I love changing things and they are great for this.

  3. Air plants mesmerize me … they’re so delicate and mysterious. And they may be a plant I can actually keep alive!!! Looks like a good project for me this year. xo

    1. That is so great! I just uploaded a you tube creating the air plant living wall. A cozied up on a snow day and got creative.

  4. Very interesting Melba! I have always stayed away from air plants because they looked dead and dry to me when I saw them but yours look great. I really like the one that has hints of purple in it.

    1. Some super amazing one out there, I have fallen in love with them more and more every year as I learn about them.

  5. These air plants are lovely Melba! I had one once. That’s all I’m going to say about that! I should have asked you how to care for it! Pinned so others will know! 🙂

    1. LOL! Cindy, you are always so funny. Now that you know, go for it! They will bring some joy, they do to me.

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