How to Care for a Tillandsia Plant (Air Plant)

I just got a tillandsia plant. It’s not planted in any soil. How does it get water and food? Should I plant it in a pot? Thanks for your help.


Hi Gabriella,

Pink Tillandsia Flower

A Tillandsia plant, also called an Air plant, is a type of epiphyte. These plants really don’t need soil since water and nutrients are absorbed through their leaves. There are little scale like growths on the leaves called trichomes These trichomes act like the roots of other plants and absorb water and nutrients from the air. In nature, a tillandsia plant uses its roots to cling to trees, rocks, or other plants. You can put a tillandsia plant anywhere in your home as long as they get several hours of bright, indirect light. Tillandsias grown as houseplants can be attached to pieces of wood, rocks, put in a terrarium, placed on a window sill, or planted in a small pot of soil. Their roots will anchor them to anything you place them on or in. Indoors a tillandsia plant needs to be “watered” about 1-2 times a week, This is usually done by spraying the plant with water. If you like the dunking method, submerge your tillandsia plant in water for 20-30 minutes once a week. Be sure to turn the plants upside down and shake out any excess water once the dunking is done.

Fertilize your tillandsia with an orchid plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength every second or third watering. You can spray the fertilizer directly on the plant or dunk the plant in water containing the plant food. It’s important to have good air circulation around your tillandsia plant; if the plant stays wet too long, it can develop mold and other plant diseases. A tillandsia plant does not like cold temperatures and prefers temperatures 60°F (15.6°C).