Air Plants

My Garden Life
February 2, 2016
Table of Contents

Air plants are funky, fun and trending right now! Air plants (Tillandsia genus) live on air in the sense that they pull moisture and nutrients from the air through their leaves, rather than from soil. They do not possess true roots, but root-like structures that help them anchor to trees and rocks. Many have colored foliage or interesting blooms and often the leaves mature from green to red before flowering and then dying. No worries, though…they live several years and before they die, produce offshoot “pups” to continue the family line!

Air plants can be displayed anchored or unanchored in or on a multitude of places – as long as they get their needed light, air flow, and moisture. Create groupings of them on a wall or shelf or plop them here and there for a touch of surprise. Check out these quick tips to get your collection started and keep it thriving:

Air Plants (Tillandsia) Hanging from Multi-color Beaded Display Colorful Air Plants (Tillandsia) Displayed in Grid Multiple Air Plants (Tillandsia) in Bright Pink Round Pot

Display your Air Plants

  • In clear glass containers (wine glass, fish bowl, aerium container) AIR FLOW is crucial, so be cautious of placing too deep into a container!
  • Perched atop vintage tea cups, recycled tins, colored bottles or other shabby chic finds.
  • Hanging from string or wire.
  • Anchored to chicken wire, or screen, in a picture frame.
  • On driftwood, rocks, aged twigs or distressed boards (NO treated lumber).
  • Among dried moss, shells, stones or tumbled glass bits.


Air plants can be simply laid into place or anchored by their base if needed, with glue, string or wire.

  • Glue – liquid nails or hot glue are best, NO superglue.
  • Wire or string – not too tight and NOT copper wire.


Bright light that is filtered or indirect is best. Don’t place air plants directly in front of windows, especially those in glass globes. Outdoors, silvery varieties can take direct sun.

Misting & Watering

Remember, air plants do not have roots to take up water nor do they store water like succulents. They take in moisture through their leaves throughout the day and carbon dioxide in the evening.

  • Mist heavily, to fully wet the leaves, two to three times per week.
  • When humidity is low such as in desert climates or in a heated room, lightly mist the air directly around the plant daily.
  • Every two weeks, remove from container or mounting site and soak, upside down, in water for one hour.

Shake excess water out after soaking and allow leaves to dry completely (one to three hours) before returning to container or mounting site. Do not allow to sit in water once soaking time is done/while on display.

Soak or mist early in the day as air plants need dry leaves to “breathe” at night, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.


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