Air plants are unique species that do not require soil to grow. In fact, there are many types of air plants that differ in the form of leaves and flowers that can be the exotic-looking indoor decoration you’ve been looking for. Let’s dive into the specifics of these otherwordly plants and learn just how exactly they take all the necessary nutrients from the air.
What Are Air Plants?
Air plants are also known as Tillandsias. We bet you have seen them on Pinterest or Instagram — lately, they have become such a trend. Tillandsias have long and narrow leaves that grow in a rosette pattern. The foliage color can vary from green to red, yellow, delicate pink, and even silver.
This genus is unlike other plants: their uniqueness is that they don’t need soil to grow. It’s because they are a variety of epiphytes that have fantastic adaptability and get nutrition from many other sources; for example, they absorb water through scales on their leaves. And as these plants are so unusual, do air plants need sun? And like every living creature, they do. However, air plants don’t like the full or direct sun; they need indirect light to thrive.
Overview of Different Types of Air Plants
It’s hard not to notice a bunch of lists like ‘twenty-something types of the most beautiful air plants,’ and well, they exist because there are more than 550 Tillandsia types! And the trickiest part of identifying air plant varieties you have bought is that air plant breeders mix the types so often that it becomes a challenge to find two air plant species that look entirely similar!
Features: The plant has leaves that resemble ribbons colored in a mixture of silvery and green colors. The form of the plant with the leaves reminds one of a palm tree.
Light: Tillandsia harrisii prefers a full sun environment, which means that you can place it right near a window where it can enjoy the bright sun in the mornings and afternoons.
Features: This plant has a similar shape to the previous one. The only difference is that the color of the leaves could vary to include red and pink in addition to the violet flower bloom.
Light: It prefers bright but not direct sun exposure.
Features: The peculiarity of this plant is that it has a bulb and leaves that curve when growing. The resemblance to snakes in leaves and occasional purple coloration is what gave this plant such a name.
Light: The plant enjoys both filtered and unfiltered sun exposure depending on the time of the day.
Tillandsia ionantha 'Druid'
Features: This plant attacks attention by its small size, gradient leaves that can differ from dark green to peachy, and distinct white flowers.
Light: Bright and filtered light is the best to keep Tillandsia ionantha 'Druid' healthy.
Features: It’s easy to spot because of the cluster-like and grassy leaves that can grow quite dense and thick. The color of the plant often varies between milky green and silvery.
Light: Bright, indirect sunlight is best for this air plant.
Tillandsia ionantha 'Fuego'
Features: Fuego has an otherworldly look because its unique coloring can vary from green to bright purple and pink on a single plant. Also, its small size (1 inch or 2.5 cm) makes it the show-off of air plants.
Light: The best light situation for this plant is filtered and bright sun exposure.
Features: Another uniquely-looking air plant has distinct white and silvery coloring with fuzz covering its leaves. Also, the bottom of the plant features many trichomes.
Light: The plant has to receive bright, indirect sunlight to grow to a flowering stage.
Features: Tillandsia cyanea is one of the of rare air plants because of its unique look, even for Tillandsia, because its flower has a form of a feather quill with bright pink coloring stemming from the green leaves.
Light: Full but filtered sun is the most preferred situation for this plant.
Features: This plant differs from others by its more solid stem, cone-shaped, vivid green leaves, and bright blue and red flowers in the center.
Light: As always for air plants, full, but the filtered sun is best. However, it can even live outside in winter due to its hardiness.
Features: The plant has solid, milky green leaves with bright pink and purple blossoms resembling lavender flowers. Also, cacticola can befriend a cactus quite successfully and grow in tandem, which is how it got its name.
Light: Bright, filtered light would be enough for Tillandsia cacticola.
Best Air Plants for Beginners
The look of air plants can create a feeling that these unique species are complex in care. Indeed, some air plants are quite finicky, but there are some that are best suited for beginners.
- Tillandsia ionantha
- Tillandsia streptophylla
- Tillandsia aeranthos
- Tillandsia capitata
- Tillandsia stricta
- Tillandsia aeranthos bergeri
- Tillandsia bulbosa
- Tillandsia fasciculata
Amazing Air Plants Benefits
Benefits of air plants for the gardeners-beginners center around their low-maintenance nature. Here are some of the most obvious:
- Air plants are east-to-propagate
- Less stressful care
- Some are air purifying
- Minimal yet pretty decoration
- Air plants have various colorings and leaf forms
- Fits every environment
- Most are pet-friendly.
Common Care Tips for all Air Plants Types
Air plant care isn’t hard, but it doesn’t mean you can completely neglect these plants. Buying these plants solely for aesthetic purposes and treating them as decorative objects is one of the common mistakes. With such ‘care,’ even the least picky plant will die.
From time to time, air plants need more than just water, air, and sun; this is fertilizer, which you can add to the water. For air plants, choose low-nitrogen fertilizers because they can encourage offset production and blooming, but don’t overdo it! Use fertilizer once a month; if you do it more often, you can destroy the plant.
Light is another important thing for air plants. Since they are from the Bromeliaceae family, they need sun and warmth because these plants are native to places like South America or West Africa. More specifically, they prefer bright indirect light, so we recommend you place your plant on the south window.
If you are curious about how to propagate air plants, here’s the easiest way — remove offsets from the plant (for propagating, they need to be about one-third the size of the plant) and soak them in the water. After this, place them somewhere with indirect sunlight.
Where to Place?
If you wonder where to put air plants, the answer is simple – everywhere you want! They can be placed on other plants, bushes, rocks, vintage picture frames, pottery, and even seashells. However, avoid copper objects and treated wood because they can harm the plant. Also, it’s important to note that popular glass florariums are not so great for hanging air plants. Of course, they are not as harmful as copper mentioned above; however, even the name of the plant hints that it needs air. Put in glass, Tillandsia might not get enough of it. Choosing a florarium with a wide hole solves this issue: the plant will get normal air circulation, and you will be pleased with the aesthetics of the glass container.
How to Water Air Plants?
To keep this plant alive and kicking, you must know how to properly water air plants.
- Pay attention to the humidity in your apartment. If the air is dry, water plants more often, but in a more humid space, there is no need to water it more than every ten days.
- While watering a plant without soil might seem tricky, it’s actually almost effortless. Just bathe Tillandsias in water for several hours.
- The best for the plant is 20 minutes to an hour every week (or every 10 days). However, be careful: the plants need to dry out fully after they soak.
How Many Types of Air Plants Are There?
Air plants include more than 500 types of Tillandsia species and counting. Air plant breeders often come up with new species through a combination of 2 or 3 plants.
Which Air Plant is Best?
That’s for you to decide. Air plants have many leaf forms, shapes, colors, and flowers, which allows everyone to decide what’s best for them.
What Kind of Plants Are Air Plants?
Air plants are ones of the genus Tillandsias. They do not require soil to grow but rather take necessary nutrients tight from the air.
How Do You Identify Air Plants?
Air plant species identification is easy: these plants do not have visible roots since they don’t require soil to grow; they often have palm-like, thin green leaves; they’re often small.
What Is the Most Common Air Plant?
The most common kinds of air plants include Tillandsia brachycaulos or Tillandsia ionantha.
What Are the Best Air Plants for Beginners?
The best air plants types for beginners are the common, easy-to-care species that require minimal water and light supervision. Such species include Tillandsia ionantha, Tillandsia streptophylla, Tillandsia aeranthos, Tillandsia capitata, Tillandsia stricta.