Air Plant - Tillandsia

Caring for Air Plants

November 3, 2022
Adams Fairacre Farms

Growing Conditions

  • Light: Bright light, but not direct. A south, east or west window is perfect. They can also be grown under fluorescent light.
  • Water: Water 2 to 4 times a week with a mister. If your environment is dry, mist daily. Water until the plant is saturated.
  • Temperature: Some varieties can withstand near freezing temperatures, but most will thrive between 70 F and 85 F. High humidity is a bonus.
  • Support: Glue tillandsias to cork, coral, stone or driftwood. Only a few varieties can adapt to soil.
  • Fertilizer: Use a low-copper liquid fertilizer, diluted to 1/4 strength. Feed monthly.

Tillandsias reproduce by putting out offsets, or pups, from the base of the mother plant. When the pups are half the size of the mother, they can be divided and mounted on their own. Tillandsias can also be grown from seed, but this is a slow process that might take years.

Tillandsias prefer to be mounted on a solid substrate that does not retain water. You can glue your tillandsia directly to the surface with a strong adhesive, or you can wire the plant to the base. Don’t cover the base of the plant with moss or it may rot. Tillandsia can be grown on almost any imaginable decorative mount, including shells, rocks, slate, driftwood, etc. Group them in decorative clumps for maximum effect. Two varieties—T. cyanea and T. lindenii—can be adapted to soil.

Grower’s Tips
Tillandsias can be wonderfully rewarding plants—their leaves often blush amazing colors before a bloom. A well-kept collection looks like a healthy coral reef. The most common mistakes made with tillandsia are not providing enough water and overfertilizing. If the leaves start to curl under, the plant is likely gasping for water. Submerge it overnight in the kitchen sink and it will come back. Finally, like epiphytic orchids, they require lots of fresh air, so don’t suffocate the plants with moss.

Information adapted from