Looking for something easy to grow? Tillandsias should be on the top of your list. Tillandsia is the largest genus in the Bromeliad family with over 650 species that vary in color, size, texture and shape. In their native habitat, Tillandsias attach themselves to trees and rocks using their roots. They derive the nutrients and water they need from the air, hence the common name “air plant.” And like their name implies, no soil is necessary for a beautiful, thriving specimen! This versatile houseplant is not fussy, and when given minimal care, will adapt to most home and office environments.
Tillandsias are evergreen flowering perennials, and their native range spreads from the southeastern United States to Central and South America. While they are often associated with tropical regions, these diverse plants can also be found in deserts, high mountain ranges and rocky habitats.
It is a common misconception that these are rootless plants – in fact, their roots are critical to serve as anchors and keep the plants stable, though the roots do not absorb moisture or nutrition like other plants. Instead, these plants absorb all they need through their foliage.
Caring for Tillandsias
These delicate plants are easy to care for, but there are some tricks necessary to keep them healthy and looking their very best.
Place your Tillandsias where they will receive plenty of light but not direct sunlight. Direct sun will dry out the leaves very quickly and can cause dehydration and wilting. Home or office fluorescent lighting works just fine.
Typical indoor temperatures are perfectly suitable for Tillandsias, and a range of 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
Once a month, soak your air plant in water for about 20 minutes. If the plant is flowering, a delicate rinse would be more appropriate so that the bloom is not damaged. When through soaking, shake off the excess water from the plant and place in an area with good air circulation so it can dry easily. In between soaks, spritz your Tillandsias 1-2 times per week with clean water from a spray bottle. Indoor heat and air conditioning rob moisture from the air. If your air plant leaves start to wrinkle or roll, this is a sign of dehydration. Give them a good soak and spritz more frequently.
It is not unusual for the outer leaves of an air plant to dry out and turn brown, and these spent leaves can simply be removed. If leaf tips dry a bit and turn brown, cut off the tip and continue with regular care. The plant will grow and look just fine.
One final note, Tillandsias have beautiful brilliant blooms but only bloom once in their lifetime. Depending on the species, the bloom may last several days to several months. Why not try several different Tillandsia varieties so you can experience these amazing blooms?