What Are Air Plants and How To Care For Them

What Are Air Plants and How To Care For Them

With over 450 species of air plants worldwide, it’s not surprising they have created quite the craze among gardeners. They have popped up in shops across the United States recently and started a trend just by existing. But what makes these plants unique? The answer to that question is: so much.

What Are Air Plants?

  • Name: In short, they get their non-scientific name from how they obtain nutrients. You guessed it; they get all of their needed nutrients from the air. Their scientific name is Tillandsias and are also classified as Epiphytes.
  • Habitat:  Air plants were once relatively rare and only found in the jungles, mountain tops, and deserts of Central and South America, Mexico, and in some southern states of the United States.
  • Size: Their size ranges from one inch to three feet long
  • Roots: Air plants anchor themselves to objects by their roots and need to be attached to something in order to grow.
  • Nutrients: These plants obtain their nutrients from moisture in the air or dirt fibers drifting through the air.
  • Appearance:  While they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, they most closely resemble a skinny version of a succulent.

Fun Facts About Air Plants

  • Air plants only absorb carbon dioxide at night.
  • They only flower once in their lifespan.
  • After they flower, pups will form and can be removed to have a separate air plant once it has reached at least one-third of the parent’s size. If left on the parent plant, the pup will cause the parent to wither and die.
  •  They can be attached to almost any surface that is not treated with chemicals that may harm them.
  • Bloom length spans several days to over a month depending on the species.

How To Care for Your Air Plants

So you’ve bought an air plant...now what? This strange new plant you’ve brought into your home is a very low maintenance plant, but it does have specific requirements in order to thrive.

Air plants in container

  • Light: Air plants need lots of sunlight but cannot be left in direct sunlight for more than a few hours.
  • Water: Water is the most crucial aspect to keep in mind while caring for your air plant. Once every week or two weeks give your plants a bath.

Let them sit in a bowl of water for about 20-30 minutes

Leave them out to dry for a few hours before re-attaching them to a surface. If your plant looks like it’s parched, try misting it once a day with a spray bottle.

  • Temperature: These plants thrive in warmer climates. Try to keep them in a range of 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grooming:  Gently pluck off dead or withering leaves. Don’t worry if you chop off a little more than you meant to. They grow back.
  • Indoors or Outdoors?:  Either! Just keep in mind that temperatures will fluctuate more outside and to bring them in during colder months. Also, keep an eye on how much water they are getting. Air plants kept outside generally need more water.

Do You Want an Air Plant Now?

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