What is a Tillandsia Plant and How Do You Take Care of One?

Tillandsia plants are known colloquially as air plants thanks to their impressive ability to grow without needing to be potted in soil. 

Unlike other plants, they absorb all their nutrients through their leaves rather than the roots and only use their roots for stability. There are over 600 different species of tillandsia and in the wild they can be found wrapped around trees or other plants for support or sitting happily atop stones and boulders. 

Here at Capra Designs, we have a love for all things green and love to see sometimes overlooked species find their time to shine. In the home, Tillandsia can be a fascinating addition to your plant collection and they are fortunately relatively straightforward to care for. 

I have successfully cared for two air plants for over a year now and yielded three additional pups from them. Admittedly, however, it was not plain sailing from the outset and my first ever tillandsia did not survive for long. 

To help you get the most out of these truly unique plants, I’m going to explain what I now realize I did wrong the first time around, as well as offer some crucial tips on best-care etiquette.

Tillandsia plants

Tillandsia plants love a humid environment (and we really mean love). My first venture into air plants failed because I opted for regular misting as the main method of watering. Your air plant will certainly thank you for a regular misting but it is not enough to promote healthy growth. They need to be submerged in water regularly. A wide vase or bowl can be ideal for this purpose.

During the summer, each Tillandsia should be soaked in water for approximately thirty minutes per week. During winter you can reduce this to every couple of weeks. Although these plants love the moisture it is also possible to soak them for too long, causing rot to take hold and potentially kill them. So take care not to overdo it.

Once complete, gently tap any excess water and place your plant in a well-lit and ventilated space. This is important as it allows your plant to dry and again prevent rot. How long this takes will depend on the strength of the sunlight it is receiving but you can expect the process to be anywhere from 1-3 hours.

Air plants favor bright, indirect sunlight. Look for a space in your home that is not directly in front of the window but still receives plenty of light. Direct sunlight can damage the plant's leaves and even burn them, particularly during the summertime.

One of the joys of Tillandsia plants is their versatility when it comes to finding them a home. As they don’t need to be potted this really is an opportunity to get creative and set your imagination free. 

If you fall in love with your air plant and want to raise a whole family of them then good news! They are very easy to grow sister plants from. All you need to do is wait until the pup (offshoot) is between ⅓ and ½ the size of the mother plant. Then, holding both the mother and the offshoot firmly at the base, carefully twist downward until they are separated. Just like that, another Tillandsia to add to your collection!

Fun Fact: I recently discovered that Tillandsia plants only bloom once in a lifetime, after which they have roughly two years of good living left. Don’t worry though, they will continue to produce a great many new pups for you during that time, so make sure you treat her with the loving care she deserves!

We can’t wait to see how you incorporate your new air plant(s) into your interior decor. Check out our trays as a perfect Tillandsia companion. 

Xx - Capra Designs Team