Airplant Care Instructions

Tillandsias belong to the bromeliad family of plants. They are a fascinating group of plants as most of them do not grow in soil, but attach themselves to trees, rocks, cacti and even power lines! Most of them come from central America, from a range of altitudes and climate zones.
They make ideal specimen for the home gardener,- especially for those that do not have much space for a garden or live in an apartment etc. They do not need much attention, so are great if you have a busy lifestyle or travel often. There is a wonderful variety of leaf colour, plant shape and texture available to chose from and the colourful flowers can last for many weeks.


The main thing to remember is that 'airplant' refers to the plant not needing soil..... and not that it only needs 'air' to survive..... they do need water!


This is the most critical aspect of caring for your airplants. Basically they need a regular good soaking of water, but then need to dry out thoroughly before the next watering..... once you have mastered this, the rest is easy!

When watering, it is important that all the leaf surface is wet (as this is how the plant absorbs it water). This can be accomplished by dunking it in a bucket of water for a couple of minutes, then shaking off the excess water and allowing to dry in an airy position (not direct sun). It should be dry in 3 or 4 hours. If the plant remains wet for any length of time, it will usually rot,- so it is important to make sure it can dry fairly quickly..... this is one of the reasons the plants grow up high (in trees etc) so that the breeze helps them dry.

Soaking in a bucket of water overnight every now and then is a good idea. Remember to let them dry out though, check especially where the leaves join the stem... if it stays wet there too long they will rot.

Airplants will usually need watering 2 or 3 times a week to grow well.... perhaps more if inside in an airconditioned room where the air is dry. If outdoors in the tropics they might not need any extra watering.

But they will survive for weeks (even months) without any extra watering.... but this is more of a hibernation mode. If you have going away for a few weeks, make sure you give them a good soak (up to an hour) before you leave, and then another good soak when you return..... and then continue your regular watering routine.... and they will be fine.


They can be grown indoors or outdoors.... they will survive indoors for long periods of time.... but will thrive outdoors in a protected position. If indoors, keep them away from gas stove / heaters and other airborn poisons (ie flyspray) as they absorb everything through their leaves and toxic fumes can be harmful to them. They need a reasonable amount of light (not direct sunlight), so any well lit room is fine.

Outdoors you can grow them under a veranda, pergola or on a balcony,- or even under a shady tree. Again, they need protection from the midday sun and they prefer a gentle breeze. Morning sun is fine.

Greener varieties tend to need a more shaded position than silvery leaf type species.


You can attach airplants to just about anything. Be artistic and use your imagination!

They will quite happily grow just sitting on an ornament or you can attach them to a rock or piece of wood or tree fern base or make an arrangement with wire.

They can be tied using fishing line or plastic coated wire (do not use bare wire as this can be toxic to the plants,- especially copper wire). Glue can also be used,- as long as it is a non toxic glue (remember they absorb everything through their leaves!). Woodwork or craft glue is fine. Do not use silicone or superglue etc.

Try to mount the plants side on rather than upright,- as this is how they grow in nature..... as this allows the excess water to run off the plant naturally. They do not like water sitting in the centre of the plant (like other bromeliads do) as this will rot the plant. If you mount the plant upright, remember to shake it upside down after watering to unsure all excess water is removed from the centre.

There is at rend at the moment to grow them inside glass containers (glass balls etc).... they will survive for a while, but this will shorten their life dramatically!!! .... especially if placed in the sun!


They do not need much in the way of fertilizer,- in fact it is better not to give them any fertilizer. Some growers like to give a little liquid fertilizer (diluted 25%) a couple of times a year to assist in flowering and to speed up the production of 'pups',- the baby plants. Do not over fertilize. Also, do not use distilled water when watering as this can cause the nutrients in the leaves to leach out of the plant.


Propagating is easy. The plants will soon get pups (little plants) appearing around the base and these can be removed when large enough. Or they can be left to form a clump,- they look quite spectacular when they are in a clump. Some varieties multiply quicker than others,- some may just get one pup a year, while other types get dozens.


Some types of tillandsias flower readily every year, whereas other types are a bit shy flowering. Maybe try a different position to assist flowering (ie more light). They all flower though..... most flowers are quite colourful,- some are very large compared to the plant size, but some are quite small. The flower spike usually last for a few weeks and can be removed when it is finished. Make sure you don't accidentally remove any tiny pups when removing the spent flower spike.