In recent years air plants have grown in popularity. I remember first seeing air plants at my local yoga studio a couple years ago and couldn’t believe they were real. They are relatively easy to care for and can be displayed in numerous ways around your house.
Before diving into how to care for your soil-free friends, let’s talk about what air plants actually are. Air plants are part of a large group of plants in the Tillandsia genus which are native to areas like the southeastern U.S. and northern Mexico. They prefer a humid climate, so frequent watering is needed to keep them happy.
In the wild, air plants attach themselves to trees and even rocks via their roots. This helps anchor them to the place where they’ll grow. Air plants absorb moisture and nutrients through their leaves, hence why they don’t need soil to grow. Their leave have little scales, called trichomes that help keep water on the leaves for longer periods of time, and reflect sunlight off the leaf surface. Trichomes are what give air plants a slightly gray coloring.
Watering Air Plants
To properly water your air plants fill a bowl or sink with lukewarm water. Place your air plants in the water for up to an hour, but no less than 20 minutes. Once the time is up, shake off the excess water and place on a towel to dry for a few hours. Make sure the area you are drying your air plants is well lit and has good air circulation. You don’t want your air plant to take longer than 3 hours to dry or you risk the chance of the roots rotting. Repeat this process every week to ensure your air plants are getting enough water in late spring and summer with less frequent watering in the winter and fall.
Misting your plant is a great way to increase the humidity. Since most of our homes are not as humid as tropics you’re going to need to mist your air plants every 5-6 days. For air plants that are mounted to rocks or containers, this may be the only way you can water your plants. For these plants I would suggest misting more frequently, avoiding the roots to help prevent root rot.
Keeping your plants fertilized will help them to produce little air plant babies, as well as providing nutrients. Similar to watering your plants, fill a bowl or sink with lukewarm water and add in the fertilizer. Let soak for up to 60 minutes, shake of the excess water, and let dry in a sunny spot. Orchid fertilizer is the best choice for feeding your air plants and you’ll want to feed them every 2 weeks in the late spring/summer months with less frequent feedings in the winter and fall.
Air plants prefer bright/indirect light. They’ll do well in areas with north, east, or west facing windows. Some species can tolerate the full sun from a south-facing window, but be sure to monitor how your plant looks and mist/water more frequently if needed.
While air plants are pretty low maintenance, they still need a little TLC and certainly can’t survive on air alone. I hope you found this helpful if you’ve decided to add some greenery to your home in the form of air plants!