Air Plant Basics

Tillandsias, a.k.a. “Air Plants”, are one of the most unique plants in the plant kingdom. They’ve adapted to life without soil; though some species can root in soil. Tillandsias can be found clinging on trees, the side of cliffs, even buildings and powerlines! The roots on Tillandsias are mainly used as an anchor, they do not absorb water or nutrients. Tillandsias can be very easy to grow as long as you keep their region of origin in mind. You do not need to know exactly where they originated but there are two main types of Tillandsia that can be found: arid and tropical. 

Arid Tillandsias are generally lighter in color and with more trichomes (white fuzz) tham tropical species. The trichomes covering the leaves help shield them from intense sun and it helps them catch any moisture that might be in the overwhelmingly dry air. Arid Tillandsias prefer brighter conditions- several hours of direct sunlight a day would keep them healthy. Watering arid Tillandsias can be done by misting the plant once a week or a little less. Make sure you shake extra water off to prevent rot.

Tropical Tillandsias are generally darker green and a little bit smoother, with less trichomes. Tropical Tillandsia species prefer a little bit less light than Arid species, a couple of hours of morning sun or just very bright frosted-window-type light. Tropical Tillandsias will prefer a little bit more humidity and water than their arid cousins. Tropical Tillandsias can be misted several times a week and also they will benefit from being dunked and left in a cup of water for a couple of hours. 

Mounting Tillandsias can be quite easy. Hot glue or E6000 glue can be used to secure their anchor roots down on whatever you desire to anchor them down on. Avoid gluing their leaves down, they will naturally shed their leaves and will end up falling off of what they were mounted to. Moss and strings are also acceptable but will take a while for Tillandsias to send out their anchor roots to naturally grab onto their mount.