It doesn’t take much to know how to care for air plants indoors, but a few tips can certainly help (Botanical name Tillandsia)
These tropical plants are epiphytes, which means they don’t need potting soil and require only minimal care.
Tiny scales on their leaves, called trichomes, absorb water and nutrients directly from the air, and even help shade the plant from scorching sun.
The plants’ “roots” are used only for clinging and do not absorb water and nutrients like earthbound plants.
Some common species to keep as houseplants include T. ionantha, T. xerographica, and T. caput-medusae, which does as the name suggest, look like the head of Medusa.
Air plants often live in all kinds of unusual places such placed under glass cloches, hanging in geometric brass ornaments, nestled on book shelves or tucked in terrariums. Like the Peace Lily, they take up very little space,
Air plants are really quite easy to care for indoors. They like bright light and the more sun they get, the more water they need.
The plant will tell you when it’s thirsty; the leaves will curl back more than usual and the tips may become dry.
Just follow my tips on how to water air plants below to keep your air plants happy and healthy.
Tips on How to Care for Air Plants Indoors
Air plants like bright light, such as that from an eastern or western window. Several cultivars such as T. xerographica can tolerate more light.
All air plants come from tropical climates where cold and freezing never occur. It’s important to keep them at temperatures you find comfortable without a sweater.
Therefore, air plants are suitable for room temperatures ranging from 50 – 90 F (10 – 32C). Avoid placing them close to air conditioner vents and clod winter windows.
How to Water Air Plants
Soak your air plants in clean water for about 30 minutes once a week. Allow them to dry completely, upside down, before returning them to their display; otherwise, they might rot.
You can also use a mister on a daily basis, or combine regular misting with occasional soaking.
Dunking is also good for plants that are attached to wood or freestanding, as well as those with dense or very curly leaves that are hard to mist thoroughly.
Dip the whole plant briefly into a pan of water or a freshwater fish tank, or put under a running faucet. Use this method two to four times per week for mesic types and once a week for xeric types.
As a general rule for air plants, water more frequently in air conditioning, hot weather and desert climates, and less frequently in cool, cloudy weather.
Air Plant Soil
None needed! Air plants are a perfect choice for someone who doesn’t like to get their hands dirty.
Air plants are often small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Some species however, can reach several feet in diameter.
Air Plant Fertilizer
Fertilize air plants once or twice a month with a water-soluble orchid or tillandsia fertilizer, following package instructions for dilution. Use the misting or dunking method. These special fertilizers do not contain urea nitrogen, which air plants cannot use.
Tip: If your plant is very dry, soak it first, then fertilize it the next day.
Air Plant Propagation
After your plant flowers, it will produce several offsets (also known as pups). You can remove these little puppies and grow them as individual plants, once they are at least a third of the size of the main plant
Other Air Plant Care Tips
Air plants like good air circulation. If you home or office doesn’t have good air flow, consider setting up a small fan nearby.
Air Plant Care Trouble Shooting
PROBLEM: plant looks shrivelled with curling leaves or brown crispy leaf tips
CAUSE: Plant is probably very thirsty
SOLUTION: Soak the plant as per instructions above and maintain regular watering / misting regime.
PROBLEM: No flowers
CAUSE: Your air plant may not be mature enough to bloom.
SOLUTION: Be patient. Some air plants can take years to flower. Some plants turn red before flowering. After your plant has flowered, it will produce “pups”, (new plants on the base) and the parent plant will die.
PROBLEM: Soft brown areas or plant falling apart.
CAUSE: Most likely a build-up of water between the leaves has led to rot.
SOLUTION: Sadly, it’s too late to save your plant. Next time, shake the plant lightly after each watering and allow it to drain upside down.
I hope this air plant care guide has helped you better understand how to care for air plants.
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