How to Grow a Tillandsia Plant (Air Plant)

What are tillandsias and what do they need? I won a plant at an office party that says Tillandsia on it but there were no care instructions with it. It’s really a weird plant!

Hi Morgan,

Dark pink Tillandsia
Tillandsia ionantha

Tillandsias are a succulent plantLearn the definition of a succulent plant and why they are called a "fat plant." in the bromeliad family that come in many shapes and sizes. In nature, they grow while attached to other plants.  Tillandsias, also called air plants, need no soil because water and nutrients are absorbed through the leaves. The roots are mainly used as anchors.

They like 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. and should be kept as close to a window as possible.

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.

Tillandsias do well in temperatures between 50°-90°F ( 10°-32.3°C)

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.

Fertilize with a bromeliad plant food  twice a month. If you use a basic houseplant 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., be sure to dilute it to 1/2 the recommended strength. Feeding the plant is important if you want it to bloom.