Taking care of tillandsia air plants

Air plants are very fun and easy to take care of. Growing air plants can be quite different from other houseplants, but it’s very simple once you get the hang of it.

Unlike most house plants, tillandsias do not need to be potted with soil, hence the common name “air plant”. 

Although they are called “air plants”, tillandsias do need more than air to live. Air plants need a good drink of water once a week or so depending on your humidity and bright indirect light to stay fresh and beautiful.

Rather than absorbing water and nutrients through their roots, air plants have a layer of special scales on the surface known as trichomes. These trichomes are specialized plant cells that allow air plants to drink water directly through their leaves. It becomes much easier to understand how you take care of an air plant once you understand how these specialized plant cells work. Air plants that are heavier in trichomes need more light exposure.


How do you water air plants?

When you soak or mist your air plants, make sure to get the entire plant wet with excessive water running down from the leaves. It’s not necessary to focus on watering the roots since air plants do not need to take water and nutrients through their roots.

Simply soak your air plant in a bowl of non-chlorinated water for 30 minutes at a time. Flip the air plant upside-down immediately after you give it a bath. Gently shake off any excessive water after each soak.

Place your air plants somewhere with good air circulation to dry them completely within 3 hours of watering. Make sure your plants dry completely within 3 hours or they may develop root rot which is irreversible. Do not put them under direct sun or near heaters/AC units as intense heat and cold temperatures can damage the plants.

How you take care of an air plant will become very easy once you establish a regular watering schedule that works for your air plant.


How often should air plants be watered?

Lightly mist your airplants regularly if your relative humidity is on the low side (especially in the cold Canadian winters) avoiding the center crevices from pooling with water.

Light misting can be done 2-3 times a week and soaking can be done once a week during the summer warmer months and every 2 weeks during the colder winter months.

Letting your tillandsia air plants stay soaking wet for longer than soaking time (typically 30 minutes each session) can lead to fungal development and root rot.


How much light do air plants need?

Air plants like bright, indirect light. Display your air plants somewhere near the window where they can get some indirect light during the day. If you don’t have natural sunlight coming in, office fluorescent lighting would do the job too. Just avoid direct sunlight since the plant can get burnt.


What temperatures are best for growing air plants?

Air plants do best in warm environments between 50 – 90 F. They love good air circulation and humidity.