About Air Plants
With their exotic appearance and showy, once-in-a-lifetime blooms, air plants are popular picks for perking up a home or office. Commonly used in terrariums, sculptures, and wall art, these little plants add color, texture, and dimensionality to any room.
Air plants are low-maintenance, require no messy soil, and are safe and non-toxic to pets. They're easy to propagate and make terrific gifts. They will thrive in nearly any indoor space with bright, indirect light and weekly watering.
Air plants are part of the Tillandsia spp genus in the Bromeliaceae (bromeliad family). Fun fact: These tropical plants share DNA with pineapples!
Air plants are epiphytes, which are plants that grow on the surface of another plant. They get their nutrients from water, air, and debris accumulation around the plant (in nature). While they have roots, they are only used to secure the plant to a surface -- like a tree branch. Air plants are not parasitic and do not take nutrients from their host plant.
There are two types of indoor air plants: mesic and xeric. Mesic varieties enjoy humid environments and a bit more water. They have more colorful, waxy leaves with fewer trichomes (the microscopic 'hairs' on air plant leaves that absorb nutrients). Xeric varieties prefer drier conditions and tend to be a silvery-green color with many trichomes.
Air plants grow natively in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Most air plants have long, slender downward-growing triangular leaves that grow in a rose-shaped pattern. New growth appears from the center.
Air plants live for 2-5 years, and during the end of their lifespan, they produce a brilliant once-in-a-lifetime bloom before dying. The bloom's shape, color, and size vary depending on the species, but most are tubular-shaped, flashy neon flowers in purple, pink, coral, yellow, and red.
Types Of Air Plants
More than 600 varieties of air plants exist. Some of the most common air plants for indoor use include:
Air Plant Styling
Air plants are a low-maintenance way to add small pops of color around an indoor space. They're popular in sculptures, wall art, or perched upon a piece of driftwood or a planter filled with a non-soil medium. They look beautiful alongside other exotic plants, like colorful orchids.
In open-air terrariums or globes, they're magical when combined with succulents and Spanish moss (also a species of air plant!). They also make unique floating arrangements when strung from fishing line.
You can find a wealth of air plant styling ideas online.