Everyone says you need water, sun and soil for growing plants, but what if you take the soil out of the equation? For air plants, that’s no problem at all—they don’t even need a container to sit in! These bad boys are perfectly happy on a sunny windowsill or a bookshelf, no potting medium necessary. So, how do you care for a plant that doesn’t have a pot? Here’s a crash course in the basics of growing air plants!
Why We Love Growing Air Plants
Air plants or Tillandsia are a type of bromeliad native to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Similar to orchids, they are “epiphytes,” which means they cling onto trees, plants, or even telephone poles when found in the wild. They absorb nutrients and moisture from rain, dew, decaying plants, and insect matter.
Their tangle of twisting, pointy foliage can be thin and flexible or stiff and chunky, depending on the variety. When they bloom, air plants produce brightly colored flowers, followed by little offsets called “pups” that you can separate and grow into a whole new plant.
Decorating with air plants is so much fun because you can think outside the box. Or, in this case, the planter! You can pretty much toss them onto any surface that’s sunny and free from cold drafts or stick them into an alternative container without soil, like a seashell or a crystal geode.
How Do You Take Care of Air Plants?
Many folks are unsure about how to water Tillandsia since they don’t have a pot full of soil. There are several ways to water them, and if you do it 1-3 times per week, they’ll be perfectly content. Here are some common watering methods:
- Hold your plant under the faucet for one minute with room temperature water.
- Soak your plant for 10–20 minutes in a cup of water.
- Mist your plant with a spray bottle.
If you have a whole bunch of air plants, you can toss them into the bathtub all at once and let them soak up that moisture. Just make sure you shake off the water droplets and place them somewhere with enough air circulation to dry out once they’ve finished soaking.
Bright, indirect sunlight is best but they can handle a few hours of direct sun each day. You just don’t want to overdo it with the sun because that can dehydrate them, depleting the moisture reserves in their foliage. You can keep them outside during the warm season if you like, but try to avoid anywhere that dips below 50°F. Temperatures above 90°F may stress them out a bit, so keep them inside on scorching hot days.
It isn’t necessary to fertilize your air plants, but you can if you want to give them a little boost! A water-soluble fertilizer formulated for bromeliads will work great. Just add it to a cup of water and let your plant soak as usual.
Splitting Apart Air Plant Pups
After your Tillandsia blooms and starts growing pups, you can split them to create new plants! However, it is best if you wait until the offset is at least ⅓ the size of the mother plant. It shouldn’t take too much effort to pull apart—just hold the mother plant and the pup by their bases and gently twist the pup in a downward motion. Once it’s separated, it will gradually expand, bloom, and create even more offsets for a never-ending cycle of new air plants!
Wondering where to buy air plants? OC Succulents is the place! We have so many fascinating varieties in different shapes and colors, and some are even in bloom! Visit us soon to see what’s new in our California greenhouse.