Tillandsias are special plants because their roots are only used to anchor the plant, most do not absorb any water or nutrients through the roots, absorption is through the leaves.

This means that they can be positioned anywhere as long as they have sufficient light, water, air and to a lesser extent nutrients.

Tillandsias are native to Central and South America and the southeastern USA.  They occur in rain and cloud forests, inland and coastal deserts and swamps and at elevations from sea level to 2750m.  This means that there is an air plant to suit most situations and places.

Light

Light is very important, if a tillandsia doesn’t receive adequate light then its leaves will not function correctly and so won’t absorb water and nutrients and eventually the plant will fade and die.  Air plants require plenty of light, they will grow happily indoors but need bright indirect light near a window.

Direct light, particularly morning sun for 1-3 hours Is very helpful.

Outdoors plants can withstand more direct sun exposure because there is more air circulating.

One of the great features of tillandsias is that they can be moved around.  If you want to create a feature in your home you can move your air plant for a couple of months and it will recover when moved back to correct light.

Different species will require different light levels, generally grey leaved Tillandsias prefer higher light levels and green mesic species prefer filtered or bright indirect light.

Water

Grey, more stiff leaved Tillandsias usually require less water than green fleshier leaved or thin leaved varieties.  Most plants will do well with weekly watering.  Make sure that plants dry out between waterings, ideally within 4 hours and that water doesn’t sit between the leaves.

Water well with a hose or under a tap, this is more effective than gentle misting.

Soaking: This is great if your plant has dried out significantly.  Simply submerge the whole plant in a bowl of water.

Plants in containers: To water your plant, remove from the glass ball or basket, submerge in water for 5-10 minutes, then shake excess water off before returning.

Be careful when misting indoors not to damage your furniture and electronics.

It is difficult to overwater tillandsias as long as they have air exposure and dry out between watering to prevent any rot.

Air movement

This is often overlooked but Tillandsias, particularly fine leaved forms like to have good air flow around them.  Be aware of this if you are displaying them inside.

Nutrients

Tillandsias are nutrient scavengers so don’t require large quantities of nutrients.  However, regular fertilising will help the plant to reach it’s full potential.  Fertilise with a general balanced liquid fertilizer than has ammoniacal not urea based nitrogen.  We recommend fertilizing at a quarter strength of the recommended dosage for ornamental plants as a foliar feed

Beware copper: Copper is toxic to Tillandsias, avoid fertilisers that contain copper or wood that has been treated with copper containing substances for mounting.

Flowering

For most Tillandsias the plant will flower once it matures, after flowering the mother plant will produce pups and gradually die back, each individual plant only flowers once but is replaced by more plants.  These pups reach maturity more quickly than seedlings and continue the process.  This is how clumps of plants form over time.  You can remove the pup once it is about a third the size of the parent plant.  If you leave them to form a clump remove any dead plants to prevent providing a place for rot or pests to hide.