AIR PLANTS - Tillandsia
In their natural habitat -- the forests, mountains and deserts of South and Central America -- air plants are epiphytic (growing on other plants without harming them), and emerge from the crooks and branches of trees. In order to thrive, air plants need bright, indirect light. Rooms with southern or eastern facing windows make good candidates, because these spaces will be brightly illuminated with sun for most of the day. Rooms with north-facing windows work well, too, as long as the plant is placed close to the window, and the window isn’t blocked by trees or a neighboring apartment complex. Western light tends to come late in the day, and can be very hot and intense. Careful - you don’t want to fry your air plant!
Many people ask us if they can place their air plant in an office or basement room where it won’t get any natural light. The answer is yes, but there are a few specific rules to follow to ensure your plant’s success.
Full spectrum (fluorescent) light is a must. Regular incandescent bulbs don’t emit the quality of light these plants need to photosynthesize. Your Tillandsia should be placed no further than 3 feet from the light source. Also if you’re going to use fluorescent light, the plants will need, at minimum, 12 hours per day.
If you live in a basement or want to have an air plant in your office, we recommend buying a special bulb for your plant (such as a Gro-Lux, Repta-Sun or Vita-Lite) and setting it on a 12-hour timer, so your plant gets all the light it needs to survive.
As a general rule of thumb, the higher the humidity in your space, the more light is tolerated by the air plant. This means that if you’re putting your air plant where it will receive loads of light, you should plan to mist it more often - twice a week or even daily. A sunny bathroom makes a happy home for an air plant, because the humidity from your shower will take care of most plant misting for you.
Watering an air plant is the trickiest piece of the air plant care puzzle. Some people swear by misting, others by soaking, and still others use a combination of both misting and soaking in their air plant care regimen.
In our experience, watering air plants is tricky because the needs of the plant vary dramatically with the space in which it is placed. The first step to watering your air plant is to evaluate your space. How much light is your plant receiving? What is the temperature in your home at this particular time of year? Is the space very dry (is your plant near a heater or fireplace?) Or is it very humid?
After you answer these questions, you can adapt the air plant watering regimen to suit your particular needs.
Signs of under-watering your air plant include the leaf tips turning brown or crispy. The natural concave shape of air plant leaves tends to become more exaggerated when under-watered.
Unfortunately, if your air plant has been over-watered, it’s often too late to save it. If the base of the plant turns brown or black, and leaves are falling out or off from the center, your plant has likely succumbed to rot.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do you take care of air plants in winter?
Keeping track of seasonal changes are a big part of keeping your air plants alive and thriving. If you live in a part of the country that has temperatures that drop below 50 degrees you will want to make sure that none of your air plants are left outside. Be sure that your plants are sufficiently watered at least once a week. You might need to water more if you run the heater more frequently as this can dry out your plants. Being too close to a cold window can shock your plants and may cause them to die as well. Learn more about winter air plant care here. Most plants can actually handle temperatures down to low 40's, but low temperatures can still damage delicate plants like funckiana and magnuisiana.
How do you take care of air plants in the summer?
In the summer months, you might need to adjust your watering schedule, how much light your plants are getting, and where you have your plants displayed due to heat, brighter sun, higher humidity or drier climates.
Do air plants purify air?
There have been studies that houseplants can purify the air in your home, but in pretty small amounts.
Can you glue air plants?
You can use glue to attach your air plant to a mount or seashell etc. We recommend E6000 glue or a small dot of hot glue. When gluing, only put glue on the bottom leaves of the plant.
How do I water air plants that are mounted or glued?
To water a plant that is attached/mounted to a piece of driftwood or wreath, carefully hold the air plant under a light flow of water while making sure the wood is not getting wet. This will allow the plant to get watered, but reduce the chance of the plant rotting due to wet wood against the base of the plant. In between waterings, you can lightly mist your air plant if it looks dry.