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How to Care for Air Plants


| 3/26/2013 3:01:00 PM


Air plants are a perfect low-maintenance option for the gardener who wants to add a unique flair to their home or garden.

What are Air Plants?

The Tillandsia genus includes more than 500 species and is part of the Bromeliad family. The most common name, Tillandsia, are also referred to as epiphytes, meaning they grow with no soil while attached to other host plants, thus the common moniker ‘air plants.’ (It is important to note that epiphytes are not parasitic plants and depend on the host for support only.)

air plant
Photo By Ciera Holzenthal/Flickr

Because they absorb water and nutrients through their leaves via trichomes (scales suited for suction), air plants require no soil. (In fact, do not ever plant them in soil!) Roots act merely as anchors to allow for adhering to trees, rocks, posts, fences and other objects, and can actually be removed if desired. 

These unique and interesting specimens reproduce by seeds or offsets referred to as “pups,” with a single plant having as many as a dozen “pups” to assure reproduction. “Pups” can be removed for planting elsewhere or retained on the mother plant to promote clustering. 



Tillandsia will only flower once, though “pupping” will assure that flowers continue to grow as mother plants are replaced by the “pups.”   



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