How do I Care for a Tillandsia HousePlant?

I bought a Tillandsia for my desk because it was small and really sweet looking. Then I realized I didn’t know how to care for it so the flowers would last. Can you help me? Emily


Hi Emily,

Here is a picture of a Tillandsia in bloom. I hope we are talking about the same plant.

Pink Tillandsia cyanea

Tillandsia Bromeliads are easy to care for but they are very different than other houseplants. Their nickname is the Air Plant.

Here are some care tips:

Water: Tillandsia Plants cannot get water through their roots like other houseplants. Wet your tillandsia 2-3 times per week; more if the air is hot and dry, less if the air is cool and humidity is high. Misting is not enough. You need to totally submerge the plant in water. Do it early enough in the day so that the plant will be completely dry within 4-5 hours. Provide good air circulation around the plant so the leaves dry within 1-3 hours.

Light: bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light.

Tillandsias do well in temperatures between 50°-90°F ( 10°-32.3°C). 10-15° cooler at night. Night temperatures should stay above 50°F (10°C).

Pot: You can mount tillandsias on wood, seashells, coral, lava rock, and anything else you want using a non – water soluble glue. They can also be placed in terrariums.

fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.: Place a tiny amount of bromeliad plant food in your spray bottle when you mist the plant. Feed a tillandsia plant this way every two weeks or so.

propagationLearn how to propagate plants by plant division at A tillandsia plant  blooms once then sends out “pups” which are small plant offsetsHouseplant offsets, or pups as they are sometimes called, are the baby plants that form at the base of certain houseplants. Plant offsets can be used to easily propagate new plants. Wait until the plant offsets have grown at least several inches, then gently detach them from the "mother"plant. Hopefully the plant offsets will have a few roots of their own at this point. Plant the offsets in a small container and keep the plant barely moist but never soggy at all times.. When these pups are about 1/4-1/3 the size of the Mother Plant, detach them and start new tillandsia plants.