Caring for Air Plants

caring for airplants

Tillandsia or air plants are epiphytes meaning that they don’t require any soil to grow! In nature, they take in their moisture and nutrients from the air or rainwater that falls on them. These magical little plants make ideal houseplants for those who have struggled with traditional houseplant varieties. With a few simple tips, they can flourish under your care.

Air Plant Light Requirements

Most varieties of air plants found in stores today are understory species. They attach themselves to trees, bushes, and rocks and are well suited to growing in the dappled light under the forest canopy. Unlike many other tropical plants, air plants can actually be damaged by full sun. While air plants still require some sunlight they’re an excellent choice for homes with less natural light. They do just fine with light from east or west-facing windows.

Water for Air Plants?

Yes, air plants still need to be watered. As Tillandsia are native to parts of the southern US and central and South America that are typically very humid they’ll need a helping hand to get enough moisture in your home. This is particularly true in winter when the air inside home’s is very dry. While you can mist them or add a humidifier to your room the best solution is just to soak them in a container of water for a few hours every 1-2 weeks. The plants won’t take up more water than they need so you can actually soak them overnight if that’s what works best for you.

Whether you’ve misted them or soaked them it’s important to make sure that they fully dry afterward. Always shake off any excess water. Allowing water to sit where the leaves come together can cause crown rot which can kill your air plant.


While air plants can acquire all the nutrients they need to survive from the air if you want your plants to flourish you might still want to give them a boost. Using a bromeliad fertilizer in the water you soak them in once every few months can keep your air plants looking stunning. Be careful to follow the directions on the fertilizer though. Adding too much to their water can actually burn the plant.

Container Ideas

Many air plants come in little glass terrariums to help keep them moist. However, because they need plenty of air circulation around their leaves this may not be what’s best for them. If you purchase a glass terrarium, ensure that it has large holes to allow maximum airflow. You can also make some great DIY air plant displays.

  • Choose a unique looking branch or piece of driftwood to mount on the wall and place air plants on it.
  • Set them on a geode, amethyst, or other unique stone.
  • Create your own hanger with a bit of jewelry wire.
  • Hang sea shells or urchin shells to serve as containers for your air plant to sit in.
  • Make your own mobile with loops of jewelry wire to rest your air plants in.

If you choose to add an air plant to your home following these basic tips can keep your plant thriving. Come into Homestead Gardens and talk to our houseplant specialists for more information.

Or you can learn more about Homestead Gardens’ top ten plants to clean the air.