What Are Air Plants? + 10 Benefits You Didn't Know
Updated: February 10, 2023
Air plants (Tillandsia spp.) are a unique group of tropical, epiphytic, evergreen perennial flowering plants. They are most commonly known for their small size, low maintenance, and decorative appearance.
Air plants can live without soil, purely on the humidity in the air around them. Though they do need a bit of attention and care, air plants are incredibly easy to nourish, making them perfect for both novices and experienced gardeners alike.
Unlike most plants, air plants don't need soil to survive; instead, they grow attached to other objects like rocks or logs. They can also be found hanging from trees in their natural habitats. Their feathery-like foliage covered with tiny trichomes (hairs) acts like natural sponges. This allows them to absorb the water and nutrients from the air around them, making them extremely low-maintenance plants!
They do grow roots, but air plants do not use their roots for nutrients, just as an anchor.
Air plants have adapted and evolved over the years to not need regular roots, because, in densely populated tropical rainforests, competition for light, water, air, and nutrients can be pretty aggressive.
While their anchor roots will continue to grow if left alone, you can easily trim them for cosmetic reasons. Just make sure you don’t cut too close to the bottom of the plant, as this can cause damage. You can also use their roots to anchor the plant to a piece of driftwood, hanging planter, wreath, or just about anywhere else you can imagine! Once they have attached to the wood with their roots, they will have a pretty strong anchor to hold them in place.
Where Do Air Plants Grow Naturally?
Air plants are native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, where they typically thrive in humid environments. They can also be found growing on rocks or trees near beaches and swamps all over the world.
How to Water Air Plants
For optimal results, you should water or mist your air plants once a week. This may need to be adjusted for April to October depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment. To water just spray the plant with a spray bottle and wet it thoroughly, or submerge the plants in water for a few minutes. To prevent rotting, after watering shake the plant a little to make sure water does not pool up inside of it.
10 Benefits of Having Air Plants in Your Home:
1. Natural Air Purifiers
One big reason to bring air plants into your home is that they can purify the air you breathe! Scientists have found that Tillandsia and numerous other plants can remove mild airborne contaminants and chemicals from the air. Plants can even help you get over a sickness like a cold faster, since they filter airborne contaminants, like dust, from the air.
2. Compact Size
Air plants take up very little space due to their small size and can be easily placed anywhere in your home or office without taking up too much room.
3. Natural Air Humidifiers
These plants help increase humidity levels indoors, especially during winter when the air gets drier and more uncomfortable. Since air plants hail from rainforests and regions of high humidity, they can help regulate the humidity levels in your home.
4. Easily Customized to Decorate Your Home
There are so many different air plants available that you can customize your terrariums or even hang them from the wall to decorate your home. Air plants are also perfect for offices. They thrive under artificial full-spectrum light (fluorescent). They should be no closer than 36 inches from the light and as much as 6 feet.
Many common household plants are toxic to pets, but air plants are safe for cats and dogs as they don't require soil and therefore don't absorb any harmful chemicals.
Most air plants last for years if taken care of properly, making them a great investment in the long run.
7. Low Water Requirement
As mentioned before, air plants rely on their trichomes to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air around them, so you don't need to worry about over-watering or constantly keeping an eye on the soil levels like with other houseplants. In addition, air plants do not need soil to grow.
8. Stress Relief
Studies have shown that being surrounded by nature can reduce stress levels significantly, and air plants are no exception! A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that plants in your home or office can make you feel more comfortable, soothed, and relaxed.
9. Easy to Propagate
With proper care and attention, an air plant can flower and create pups, or small offsets, in as little as one to two years. Removing and tending to the pups is just like caring for a new air plant, allowing you to double your collection at no added cost.
Air plants are very affordable which makes them a great option for those who don't have the budget to splurge on expensive decorations. They can easily make your home look exotic.
If you're looking for an easy-to-care-for and beautiful way to green up your indoors, then air plants are the way to go! They bring aesthetic pleasure and health benefits that can help improve your mental health. So why wait? Get one today and start enjoying its many advantages!
How to Water and Care for Your Air Plants
- For optimal results, you should water or mist your air plants once a week.
- Place them near an open window where they can get plenty of indirect sunlight for at least 4 hours a day.
- Try not to place them too close to any heat sources, as this can cause their leaves to dry out and curl.
- Fertilize twice a month at 1/4th strength for blooming and reproduction
- Prune off any brown or withered leaves as they tend to be a sign of overwatering or not enough sunlight.
- Keep an eye out for pests such as mealybugs, as these can cause damage to your air plants if left unchecked! If you notice any, try wiping them off with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab or spray them with neem oil.
- Have fun experimenting with different terrariums or hanging containers to display your air plants, and get creative!
Creative Ways to Display Your Air Plants
- Hang them from the ceiling or walls with a fishing line or twine for a unique and eye-catching display
- Place them in an old teacup or bowl to create a pretty centerpiece for your dining table or kitchen countertop.
- Make a terrarium out of different vessels, such as mason jars, bottles, vases, etc., and add moss, stones, and other decorations to bring it all together.
- Attach your air plants to driftwood pieces for a rustic look that's both modern and nature-inspired.
- Create a beautiful living wall using air plants and frames for the ultimate wow factor!
- Hang clusters of air plants in macramé holders for a unique and bohemian look.
- Put your air plants in wall-mounted planters or display them on a shelf to add life and color to any room.
- Place your air plants in an open terrarium with colorful stones, moss, and other decorations for an interesting and beautiful display.
- Construct an intricate frame out of copper wire or rope and hang your air plants for a modern take on hanging gardens.
- Add some greenery to the bathroom with air plant suction cups that can be attached to tiles or windows!
- No matter how you decide to display your air plants, they're sure to bring life and beauty to any space. So don't hesitate, get creative and enjoy the calming presence of these unique plants!
- Put it inside a bathroom that has a shower by the window. This will totally change the ambiance of your room. You also don’t have to worry about watering it as the steam will do that.
- Bonus tip: With proper care, air plants can be a long-lasting addition to your home and bring joy for many years to come. Be sure to give them the attention and love they need for them to thrive! Good luck!
Air Plant FAQs
Q: How often do I need to water my air plant?
A: Generally, you should give your air plants a light misting of water every 1-2 weeks. This depends on the humidity levels in your home or office. If your air plant looks droopy, it may require a more thorough soaking for 15-20 minutes.
Q: How much sunlight do air plants need?
A: Air plants prefer indirect sunlight and should be placed near an open window where they should get at least four hours of sun per day. Avoid putting them too close to any heat sources as this can cause their leaves to dry and curl.
Q: Do air plants need fertilizer?
A: Yes, air plants need to be fertilized with a specialized succulent or cacti fertilizer once per month during the growing seasons, which are spring and summer, for optimal growth.
Q: What should I do if my air plant gets infested with pests?
A: If you notice any mealybugs on your air plant, try wiping them off with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab or spray them with neem oil. Be sure to inspect your plants regularly for pests so you can take action as soon as possible!
Q: Can I repot my air plant?
A: Yes, if desired, you can repot your air plant into a larger container. However, it is not necessary to do so unless you want to display your plant in a different way. Air plants don't need to be repotted as frequently as other houseplants.
Q: What is the lifespan of an air plant?
A: Properly cared for air plants can live for several years, depending on the species and environmental conditions. With adequate light, water, and fertilization, you can expect your air plants to thrive for many years!
Start Shopping for Air Plants Now
Air plants are beautiful, low-maintenance houseplants guaranteed to brighten your living space. Whether you hang them from the ceiling or place them in a terrarium or on a shelf, there's no wrong way to display your air plants.
Start shopping now to find air plants to decorate your home, improve your air quality, and moisturize your environment.