Air plants are some of the most fascinating plants for houseplant owners: they don’t need any soil, they’ll grow on just about any surface, and they come in all shapes and sizes. I love air plants because they’re easy to care for and don’t attract pests because they don’t need be to grown in a medium to survive (take that, fungus gnats). In this post, I’ll be sharing tips on how much light to give air plants, how to water them, and how to mount them.
1. The Greener the plant, the more sun it needs
For the most part, air plants do not want to feel warm sunlight on their leaves. I would say air plants in general only need medium light. In fact, I don’t keep any of mine in bright, indirect light. That being said, the greener the air plant, the more sunlight it needs. Air plants which don’t turn silvery between waterings (so they stay green all the time) can be put in medium light or bright, indirect light. Others should be kept in medium light.
2. Spray and soak
Air plants do not absorb water through their roots. Instead, they absorb water through trichomes (hair-like structures on their leaves). As such, air plants’ roots are only used to cling onto the three bark on which Tillandsia live in the wild, and water should be directed to the leaves. There are two ways to water air plants: by spraying or by soaking. To water by spraying, simply spray the leaves of air plants with water. This sustains air plants quite nicely in humid environments, or acts as a little pick-me-up for them when they look a little dry between soaking. Soaking is much more thorough in comparison. To do a proper soak, put air plants in tap water in a glass, pot or a vase and take them out after an hour. In more humid environments where rot is a real threat, some growers like to place their air plants upside down for about an hour after soaking so water can drain from the crown of the plant. I personally soak once a week and additionally spray any air plants when I see them looking dry. I’m not usually a fan of watering schedules, but I think soaking once a week is a good starting point while trying to work out how much water you need to give air plants in your home.
Note: Tillandsia tectorum should not be soaked.
3. Mount your air plants
Air plants create great opportunities for displaying and mounting because they’ll grow on any surface that isn’t toxic, provided that you water them. This means you could potentially grow air plants on geodes, stones, crystals, wood, or in open terrariums. When mounting them, you can simply place them on the object you wish to mount them on and wait for the aerial roots to grow. If you don’t have the patience, you can always use plant-safe glue to stick your air plants on the surface you want it to grow on.