Everything You Need To Know About Air Plants
A soil-free, low-maintenance plant that's almost too easy.
If you haven’t already heard, almost-indestructible plants are in fashion. Millennials are filling their shelves with succulents, as these beautiful, lotus-like plants only require water around once a month and are notoriously difficult to kill. But the newest plant trend we’re loving? Easy-to-care-for air plants.
Air plants, also known as Tillandsia, will liven up any space in your home, from small apartment corners to gorgeous kitchen alcoves. Like succulents, tillandsia come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes, although most feature long, curving green leaves akin to thick-sprouting clusters of grass. Housed in hanging glass terrariums or on modern, geometric pedestals, these trendy plants double as natural home décor. Air plants are a great introduction into the world of gardening. Once you have one, you’ll only want to grow your collection.
Although air plants are hardy and relatively easy to care for, it’s important to follow a few guidelines to keep your Tillandsia happy and healthy. Here’s everything you need to know about the care and keeping of air plants.
How air plants survive
Unlike most plants, air plants don’t depend on roots for nourishment. Air plants have adapted to gain most of their necessary nutrients from their leaves, which makes them quite durable and easy to care for. When you look closely, you may notice lots of small white flecks on the leaves of your air plant. These scales are called trichomes, and they enable the plant to absorb all the water and nutrients it requires. This means that Tillandsias don’t require any soil, aptly earning them the nickname “air plants.”
How to water your air plant
Since air plants absorb water from their leaves, the process of watering air plants looks a bit different than watering a potted plant. Use a spray bottle to spritz your air plant with water once a day. Once a week, soak your air plant’s roots in a water bath for 10 minutes, then allow it to dry upside-down. It’s important to ensure that your plant dries completely each time it’s watered to avoid dampness and keep your plant healthy.
Where to keep your air plant
Air plants love indirect light. While air plants should be kept in a bright spot, harsh, direct sunlight can dry air plants out, so don’t keep your air plants in the sweltering sun all day.
WATCH: 10 Easy Houseplants Even Beginners Can’t Kill
The hidden health benefits of air plants
Air plants can survive and thrive almost anywhere, so they’re a great addition to a sunroom or a college dorm room. Not only do they bring a bit of greenery to your space, but they can actually help purify the air. During photosynthesis, air plants absorb carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen, acting as an all-natural air purifier. So the answer is yes: house plants can help you overcome those pesky allergies and generally breathe better.
This season’s hottest gift: air plants
Air plants are one of the most low-maintenance plant varieties, so they can be very thoughtful gifts for even a novice plant owner. Seasoned gardeners will love this addition to their indoor decor, and for new plant owners, an air plant is a great introduction to the world of gardening without requiring much commitment or prior knowledge.
I adopted my very own air plant a little over two years ago. I named her Tilly, short for Tillandsia. Tilly was a gift from my mother, who said that having a plant in my room would purify the air and help with my allergies. Throughout the past years, as I’ve moved from New Jersey to Virginia to Alabama, Tilly has traveled with me. Now, more than two years later, Tilly still sits happily on my windowsill, basking in the Alabama sunlight.
These carefree plants are a great way to pass on the green thumb to generations of daughters and granddaughters. It’s a gift that’s lasting, unique, and personal– every time I water my Tilly, I'm reminded of my mama.
So where can I get one?
While you can find Tillandsia at many nurseries or boutique plant shops, but you can also order air plants online. It’s almost too easy. They’re available on Amazon in packs from three to five to twenty-five– so they're a perfect gift for each of your daughters, granddaughters, best girlfriends, book club buddies, or anyone special in your life. You can order hanging glass terrariums, sleek geometric planters, or even cute pineapple air plant holders, or you can make your own DIY hanging planter to house your air plants in style.