Looking for a foolproof solution to air plant bugs but don’t have the time or tools to grow indoor potted plants? At Your Home Your Garden, we’ve got just the solution for you and it’s called air plants. These sturdy and unique plants are native to Southern America and come in over 650 different species.
Also referred to as Tillandsia, air plants are extremely unique as they do not require soil to survive. Additionally, depending on the species, air plants can survive for a few months or even years! They are also low maintenance and do not require full sun just like some of the best shade plants. You can also learn more about herbs that thrive with full sun exposure.
A blooming air plant has unique long and winding leaves which absorb nutrients and moisture from the air to survive and thrive. Air plants are also easy to look after but they do need some essential care and attention to enjoy a long life cycle.
For optimal growth, these plants require good air circulation, partial sunlight, and frequent watering. If you are interested in growing flora, you can also learn how to grow sunflowers through our gardening guides.
If you want to learn more about air plants, their benefits, characteristics, and how to grow them in your home, then keep on reading!
What are Air Plants?
Tillandsias or air plants come from the Bromeliad or Bromeliaceae family. Some varieties are also labeled as Epiphytes since these unique plants do not require any form or type of soil to grow and thrive. Native to Central and South America, as well as Mexico, the air plant can be found on mountains, deserts, and jungles.
All they need is a platform to grow which its roots attach to as a supporting subject. Air plants are not parasitic and they use the host carrier as a support system.
How Long Do Air Plants Live?
At the peak of bloom, air plants display a range of deep red and pink shades. Some air plant species only bloom once in their lifetime.
The air plant flowering phase can last for a few months depending on its type. Once they begin to die or fade, it is a clear indication of a dying air plant. Just before they die, air plants leave behind little pups to restart the life cycle. You can also remove them from the mother plant and grow them elsewhere individually just like transplanting cactus.
When air plants bloom, they change shades and while some may live for a few months longer, the average air plant will eventually start its journey towards a new life cycle after this flowering phase. Air plants produce pups which can be grown separately.
How Long Before an Air Plant Reaches Full Bloom?
If you have planted an air plant but are worried that it isn’t growing, it’s not because there is something wrong with it, it is simply because air plants grow at a very slow pace. Some species of the plant may even take a few good years before reaching full bloom. So, if you are growing an air plant at home, patience is key!
For your air plant to enjoy a long and healthy life, the following tips can be extremely useful.
- Always use tap water to soak these plants instead of distilled water or soft water. However, tap water can contain a lot of chlorine which is not healthy for your air plant. To counter this, leave the water standing overnight so the chlorine content dissipates and you can use it to soak your plants.
- Your air plant feeds off the moisture and nutrient debris present in the air so spray it well! However, drying them after you have soaked them is crucial. Make sure that your air plants live in an aerated zone and pat them dry first and then leave them to dry completely and thoroughly for 3-4 hours before placing them back in their spot. If you leave them wet and soggy, this can result in severe rot.
- Air plants occasionally require direct sunlight so make sure to place them in a spot that has good access to direct sunlight.
- Once your air plant starts to show signs of bloom, it is best to rinse it henceforth instead of soaking it.
- If you notice any brown, dry leaves, trim them off to keep your air plant healthy and green.
- One crucial tip to keep in mind is that over-fertilizing an air plant may burn its leaves and roots. Do it once a month when it is the growing season.
- Skip fertilization once frost hits and wintertime is here.
The Growth Cycle of Air Plants
Ever wondered how you can grow your own air plant? Well, there are two main ways of doing it. Air plants can be grown by means of seeds that are formed once the mother plants bloom and are pollinated. The second is air plant growth by pups produced by the mother plant.
Growing them when the air plant blooms and leaves seeds behind is a far slower process than growing them from when they are tiny pups. These air plant pups can grow sturdy and strong within just a few months. You can start growing them before the mother plant wilts away by separating them and growing them in a different spot.
Growth Stages of Air Plants
Once you notice a flower stalk growing from your air plants, then this is the first stage or sign of the air plant growth cycle. This is also when most air plants will begin to blush and their leaves will change color from green to a deep red or pink. Depending on the species of the air plant, some may grow inflorescences that are soft and round while others may be a little prickly.
You will notice a variety of shapes and colors of the flowers that emerge as a single bloom. Not only does it look pretty, but these blooms are long-lasting as well.
Again, depending on the type, some air plants can live and bloom for several years. But, the flowering stage is the maturing phase and the plant will begin to wilt in a few months.
2. The Sign of Pups
After the flowering phase is over, your air plants will not grow any further. Now is the time for the next step in the air plant’s life cycle. This second stage is marked by the appearance of air plant pups or baby plants that can be found at the base of the plant or under its drying leaves. They can be separated from the mother plant earlier and planted elsewhere. Usually, air plants grow 1-3 pups.
3. Seed Production
The next stage is seed production. Some air plants will produce seeds after the flowering stage and this happens during the dry season so that wind or rain does not wash them away. When there is rain or moisture in the air, the air plant seeds are ready for germination. In the case of xeric air plants, they do not require extra moisture of any kind as they thrive in dry, desert like conditions.
Keep in mind that growing air plants from seeds is a tedious process and requires patience and many years of love and care. This is why most gardeners and enthusiasts prefer planting pups instead of growing air plants from seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best place to keep an airplant?
The best place to keep an airplant is in a bright spot that received indirect sunlight. You can hang them within 1-4 feet of an east or west facing window sill. You can do the same in case of artificial light. If you keep them hydrated, they may still be able to endure some direct light and heat. However, avoid placing them in completely dim locations.
How often should I water my airplant?
You should water your airplants at least once a week. You can repeat this twice or thrice a week for excellent care and optimal results. We also recommended that you soak and mist your airplants at least once for 2 hours every 2-3 weeks.
Do airplants have short lives?
Yes, airplants complete their cycle of life within a few months but they don’t completely die. They leave behind pups that will grow into airplants and the cycle continues. Some species of this plant may survive up to a year or slightly longer.
Are airplants toxic?
No, airplants are not toxic to humans or even animals. If you notice your cat or dog nibbling on it, you don’t have to worry. Just keep your plant somewhere safe where it won’t be nibbled on!