How To Care For Tillandsia | Air Plants

One of the easiest kinds of plants to care for are air plants (also known as Tillandsia). They serve as a great gift for yourself or for someone else, whether you have a green thumb or not (yet)! Although it is important to remember regardless of how hardy they are, they are still plants, and need some form of care with the proper environment to thrive.

Air plants are unique because they are not solely dependent on their roots to uptake nutrients from soil. They collect what they need from moisture in the air and sunlight through fuzzy hair-like trichomes that grow on their leaves. This allows them to thrive in a variety of environments. The light and watering requirements for your air plant will depend on the environment in which you place it. The following provides a great general sense of how to properly care for your air plants, but be sure to consider your environment and what adjustments can be made to make sure your air plant will do as well as possible!

For example, if your air plants are in a humid environment, you may need to water them less. Whereas, if your plants are in a dryer climate, they may need to be misted daily in-between soaks. If your air plant is a darker green color, in general, it will do better with more water and less light. Silver colored plants with a higher concentration of trichomes will do better with more light and slightly less water.

Location and Temperature

Ideally, finding an adequate light source within 3-5 feet of a window or artificial light is suggested, while avoiding any harsh, direct sun. If your air plants are outdoors, keep them in an area with bright, but indirect light. Be sure they stay between 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Air plants will do best in your bathroom or kitchen windows, where they receive a plethora amount of humidity.


A common misconception is that they will do well with only a spritzing of water, but that is not the case!
Spritzing is a good way to keep the plant moist between soakings. Soaking plants in a bowl is the preferred method of hydrating and feeding air plants. In general, every 10 to 14 days, air plants should be placed face down in a bowl of water for 15-20 minutes. If your plants are not on a bi-weekly routine of soaking and seems to be struggling, you can leave them in water for a few hours.

It is important to study the condition of your plants when deciding how long to leave them in water. A healthy specimen will have wide-open leaves, while a dehydrated plant will have closed, curled, and browning leaves. After soaking, remove any excess water by gently shaking the plant, then keeping them in a place that will allow them to sufficiently dry for about four hours.

Note: If your plant has a bloom, keep the bud above the water to avoid disturbing the flower.

It is best to use pond, aquarium or rainwater. Bottled and spring water work as well. Never use distilled or artificially softened water. If using tap water, let it stand for several hours to evaporate any chemicals, such as chlorine, prior to watering.


Let’s not forget the air aspect to air plants! Ensure your plants are always in an area with a adequate circulation of clean air, but especially after watering. Avoid keeping the plants in enclosed containers. They generally do well in open containers such as terrariums (SHOP TERRARIUMS HERE). Allow at least four hours for the plant to dry before placing it back in its original home.


Unfortunately, an air plant itself cannot live forever, with a general life span of two to five years. The “pups” that the mother produces before the end of its life cycle continue to live on! It is all part of the Tillandsia life cycle. You can either keep the pups attached to the mother, which will eventually form a clump, or remove them once they reach about 1/3 the size of the mother. Following the steps above will help extend the lifespan of your air plant for as long as possible!

Note: During the lifecycle of your air plant, it is normal for leaves to die off and new ones to grow. Simply trim your air plants of dead or browning leaves with scissors.


Tillandsias are very resourceful, and can generate most what they need from the moisture in the air. They require less fertilizer than most plants. A small amount of water-soluble fertilizer should be used once a month from March to November, when they are not blooming. Refrain from fertilizing when the plant begins budding until it’s done blooming to make the flowers last longer. Be sure not to over-fertilize as air plants are sensitive to this. Choose a non-urea-based fertilizer. Nitrogen should be in the form of ammonium or nitrate, not urea (since urea needs the bacteria in the soil to break it down). Avoid copper and zinc micronutrients since they are toxic to air plants. Orchid or Bromeliad fertilizers are recommended.


Your air plant will tell your everything you need to know, do your best to examine your air plant and take into consideration what adjustments they need based on the environment. You will get the hang of it in no time! Just remember the three main aspects to caring for your air plant, air, water, and sunlight!