Tillandsia or air plants are uniquely colored and textured plants that can be an eye-catching addition to an indoor houseplant collection.
Air plants can also be a fun gift for the holidays when we are often spending more time indoors. They are fairly low maintenance plants that don’t require a lot of care.
These low maintenance plants are a genus of around 650 species of evergreen, perennial flowering plants in the family Bromeliaceae (bromeliads). Another member of the bromeliad family are pineapples!
With a few exceptions, air plants don’t need or like soil. They can grow on rocks, wood, shells or other surfaces like a sea urchin. You can also create a terrarium that features these plants or add them to a table centerpiece.
Many air plants are found in their native habitats in Central and South America nestled in tree branch nooks where they absorb moisture from the air.
Their leaves act as slides to bring the water to the base of the plant to be absorbed by their roots. Often Tillandsia that are acclimated to the desert have leaves covered with tricomes (hair-like appendages that take up water and nutrients, they also reflect and protect the plant from harsh sunlight).
A few Tillandsia may eventually produce flowers, and both their leaves and flowers may have varying colors of reds, pinks, yellows, and purples. Once Tillandsia flower they can produce “pups” or new plants that can be removed from the mother plant.
Taking Care of Tillandsia
- Tillandsias prefer bright but indirect, filtered light.
- Because they are native to warm climates, provide temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees.
- Water by submerging your Tillandsia in a bath about every week. Make sure it is dry to prevent rotting. Supplement with mist from a sprayer that also provides the plant with humidity.
- Fertilizing can be done with a water-soluble fertilizer for bromeliads once a month.