Air plants seem almost otherworldly in the strange way they can grow…. just in air! That’s right – no soil is required at all. Plus, their leaves can look like a bit like alien tentacles or like the appendages of an exotic sea creature. These fascinating little plants have become quite popular over the last few years. However, they have a few requirements of their own. Learn them, and your air plants will thrive.
As mentioned above, air plants will not grow in soil. Don’t even try it. Tillandsias are epiphytes, which means that in nature they grow on other plants, like clinging to tree trunks, for instance, rather than by rooting in the ground. Their roots are used purely to attach themselves to other plants or objects. Air plants will grow on bushes, rocks, trees and shrubs. Indoors, they can be placed in terrariums or attached to anything from magnets to driftwood for creating your own interesting displays—just use a bit of hot glue or translucent fishing line to secure them.
But don’t make the mistake of treating your air plant as if it’s a decorative object rather than a living thing. Air plants like several hours a day of bright, indirect light. They derive their nutrition by absorbing water through their leaves and so you’ll need to water your air plant roughly once a week. If the air in your home is particularly dry, water them more often (every five days) and in a humid environment, water every ten days or so. While misting them can be done, it’s not quite a sufficient method of watering your tillandsias. When watering them, it’s best to fully submerge them in a container of water and let them sit there for a while. After they soak, Tillandsias need to dry out fully. Fully! Shake off any excess water and put them in a bright spot for at least 4 hours. This is key, as dampness is the main foe of an air plant. Their poor little cores will rot if they don’t get to drain and dry out!
For lush-looking plants that earn you bragging rights, feed your plants once a month by adding fertilizer to the water mix. Make sure to use a bromeliad mix and don’t overdo it—plants can burn from too much fertilizer.