We are having a love affair with air plants. They are one of the most popular indoor plant trends, and we get it. They are inexpensive, super interesting and really easy to care for. And, just really cute! Kinda like a sci-fi movie and all the fantasy flower beds at Disneyworld had a baby, right? That having been said, they do require some care. There is a misunderstanding in the plant parent world that air plants take care of themselves. Air plant care is super simple though, once you learn what these cute plant pets need from us. So if you want to learn how to take care of air plants, including how to water them so they are at their best, then read on, fellow plant lovers. We’ve got a whole primer for you on air plant care, and even where to buy them!
How to Care for Air Plants
Air Plant Care
How to Take Care of Air Plants
If you want to learn how to take care of air plants, you are in the right place! First of all, a quick primer on what air plants are, and what they aren’t.
- Air plants are a genus of plants called Tillandsia, and in their natural environment they have a symbiotic relationship with other plants and trees. This means they may use other plants to live on, but they don’t live off of them. They are not parasitic.
- Since air plants live on other plants and trees, they do not require soil. They get all their nutrients from the water and air around them.
- When keeping Tillandsia as indoor house plants, you need to provide for the basic needs they would receive in nature. Air, light, water and nutrients.
- Other than that, air plants can be placed almost anywhere. They can be used as living decor, they can be included in plant crafts, they can even be wired or glued to surfaces without harming them! (As long as they can still be watered.)
Do Air Plants Need Sun?
Air plants prefer bright, indirect light. The fastest way to kill an air plant is to assume since they don’t need soil, they don’t need light either. While you don’t want to put them in direct sun, a bright window is best. We have them growing as far as 10 feet away from a bright window with pretty good success, but I would not suggest more than that if you want your air plants to thrive. And remember, if you put you air plants in glass globes (a popular way of displaying them) then make sure they don’t get too much sun. Glass concentrates sunlight, and also heat, so don’t create a tiny oven for your air plant pets!
How to Water Air Plants
Soaking Air Plants
The best way to water air plants is the soaking method. It’s pretty simple… You get a large bowl, or even a stopped up sink, and fill it with clean water. Place the air plants in the water and soak for an hour. I turn mine over halfway through to make sure they get a good soak on all surfaces and tips of the leaves. You can actually see some of the air plants plump up as they absorb water. The curly varieties will actually loosen their curl when they are well watered. Once a month I add a weak solution of liquid plant fertilizer to the water. Half strength is best.
Misting Air Plants
Another option for watering air plants is to mist them several times a week. This may be your only option if your Tillandsia is part of a mounted display where it isn’t easy to detach it for soaking. Some people just prefer this method. Misting air plants should be done more often in dry weather, or when your home is using air conditioning or heating. Bottom line… 2-3 times a week for average conditions, 4-5 times a week for a dry or hot household. We use misting in combination with soaking air plants. We mist when we don’t have time for a good soak, and then give them a good long drink at least every 2 weeks.
How Often to Water Air Plants
If you are using the soaking method, soak your air plants once a week.
If you are combining misting and soaking, make sure your air plants get a really good soak at least once a month. At least.
Air plants with gray or fuzzy leaves are more drought resistant than those with green or smooth leaves. Therefore, they will require less watering.
How often to water your air plants can depend on how warm or dry your air is. If you see any shriveling of the leaves, it’s time for a good watering. But remember, like most houseplants, it’s better to err on the side of under watering, then overwatering.
Avoiding Air Plant Diseases
The only major threat to air plants with disease is rot. And 99% of the time it’s totally preventable with proper air plant care. After you are through soaking your air plants, always turn them upside down on a towel to dry for at least an hour. This prevents water from collecting in the crown of the plant, which is the main cause of rot.
Bulbous air plants are especially susceptible to this. I turn mine over upside down over the sink and shake any excess water out before I place it to dry.
Where to Buy Air Plants
Now that we know you are hooked on these easy houseplants, you need to know where to find them! Here are our favorite places to buy air plants…
We only buy our air plants now from Etsy seller ‘Spyloh‘. The plants are always the best quality and a great price. She carries so many different varieties, and she even has some rare varieties for when you truly get addicted! (And, you will.) We love the air plant care cards she sends with each order. And very importantly, she knows how to pack them properly, especially for winter delivery. Listen to her advice to add heat packs to your order in the winter, to prevent any problems while in transit. Luckily, air plants are very hardy though and travel quite well at any time of year. She also sells some very cute pots for air plant display. We have 4. 🙂 Don’t believe us? Go check out her thousands of five star reviews.
You can find air plants at local nurseries or garden shops. Just give them a call to check if they carry them.
The only seller on Amazon we recommend at this point is ‘Plants for Pets‘. In our experience, the quality of the plants isn’t as good as ‘Spyloh’. But they have some really good deals on variety packs. Great for wedding favors or gifts. But if you are buying for yourself and quality is important… well, you know. ‘Spyloh‘.
Now you know how to take care of air plants, how to water them and where to buy them! Want to know how to display them? Then jump on over to our posts, DIY Air Plant Terrarium, and What are Air Plants (With Display Ideas) and our DIY Branch Chandelier Air Plant Display over at OhMeOhMy!