Best Things to Know About Tillandsia Air Plants

Tillandsia Air Plants symbolize freedom and creativity. Learn why and how to care for them at Lively Root. Shop with a 30-day guarantee.

By: Debbie Neese
September 8, 2021
Best Things to Know About Tillandsia Air Plants
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Do you have a little bitty space in your cubicle at work? Love plants but have no more space at home for one more plant? Do you have manicured nails and don't want to be bothered with soil and repotting? Do you like lush without the fuss? Well, drum roll, please! Say yes to all these, and we have the perfect plant for you! Tillandsia air plants take up little room, can hang like a picture on the wall, and don't require soil. They even flourish and flower! And they propagate themselves. You could say this is the end-all-be-all of indoor plants. Their cute, unusual, elegant, trendy, and bonus! They're low maintenance. So what's not to love?

Shop Our Tillandsia (Air Plants) 

Tillys (for short) are native to the southern regions of the US along with Mexico, Central, and South America and in the Bromeliad family. With over 650 species, you're going to be astonished by each one's uniqueness. They remind us of ballerinas dancing to sea anemones floating on the bottom of the ocean floor! 

Growing Habits

How Big Will My Tilly Get?

This is not a race to 'whose is the biggest' remember. Though, depending on the species will determine the size of your air plant's growth, remember, they clump. Some species can be as tiny as 2 inches, while others can grow up to 7 feet in the wild! After a tillandsia blooms, it stops its growth and diverts its energy to producing pups or offsets to take over and start the new growth cycle. It recycles itself, so to speak! 

How Often Do Tillandsias Bloom?

Tilly's will have one lifetime bloom, signifying the peak of their life, making it extra special to capture! You'll notice on most a change in the leaf color, sometimes blushing with shades of pink to red to purple. The inflorescence holds the flower stalk and is where the flowers will ultimately emerge. Some will have one flower, while others will hold a group of flowers. Depending on their care and the species, the flowers will appear and last from a few days to several weeks to months. To protect the bloom and get the most bang for your buck, do not submerge the bloom. Keep it above the water while the leaves are submerged. 

So, when your Tillandsia blooms, it's time to take it to 'show and tell' since 'we may never pass this way again.'



Propagation of an Air Plant

Soon after the blooming or 'big reveal,' the plant will produce pups or offsets at the base of the plant or the flower stalk. Pups will continue the circle of life. They can either be left together as a clump or removed individually after the pup is at least 1/2 the size of the mother plant. Carefully use a sharp, sterilized pruner to remove. You may like the look of a lush clump, and that's fine too! That's how they grow in the wild, so you can count yourself as 'wild at heart.' 

How Fast and For How Long Do Air Plants Grow?

Tillandsia air plants are slow-growers. If you're looking for a large specimen, try a T. xerographica (the 'Queen Bee' of air plants). Try our T. ionantha, T. butzii, T. bulbosa, T. fuchsii, and others if you prefer smaller varieties. Typically, after flowering and producing pups, the air plant slowly fades as the pups take over and begin their own growth cycle, developing their pups to maintain the process. If your plant hasn't flowered yet, it means it's still growing. Be patient and enjoy the wait. In the meantime, you have a very unique plant to display, care for, show off to friends and love. 


Is My Air Plant Dying?

Don't have a plant funeral yet. There is good news! After the air plant has bloomed (which may be only a few short days or up to a year), it will begin reproduction and produce pups that can be harvested once they reach 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the parent plant. As this occurs, the main plant will begin to wither (at its journey's end). At this time, you can clean up the plant by removing the dry and withering leaves so the pup can capture all the energy. Thank the mother plant for its beauty and bid it well 'making it feel like more than a friend!' 

How to Water, Mist, Prune, and Fertilize

  • Watering is easy peasy. Fill your sink up with water and let it sit overnight to dissipate the chlorine. Be careful not to use distilled or soft water either! Soak your Tillandsia on average 20-30 minutes, so the leaves get hydrated. Then set them upside down to drain entirely for at least 4 hours. When all the leaves have completely dried, you can place them back in their regular display. 
  • Mist by using the same kind of filtered water and spritz them 2-3 times a week. 
  • Prune off dried leaves with a sterilized pruner. 
  • Fertilize with a foliar spray once a month during the growing season from April through October. It is urea-free and won't burn your plants. Skip the winter months while they rest. We suggest our foliar Application using DynaGro. Mix 1/4-1/2 tsp. per gallon of water and spray directly on the leaves. 

Display Ideas

Hang a tilly from a macrame hanger especially made for them, or you can place it in a small opening of a vase or cork bark, driftwood, or a tiny demitasse cup. If you decide to hang, you can use wire or a glass orb to display them in too. Add some colorful gravel, sand, or moss, and you have a terrarium of tillandsias. 

Interesting Facts About Tillandsia

Tillandsia are often mistaken as a parasite. Oh no, don't say it! Tillys are not sap-suckers. Just hitch-hikers. They are epiphytes and get their water and nourishment from the air. They'll fasten themselves to a tree branch or a rock but fend for themselves, not bothering anyone else.

They are a symbol of freedom and creativity. Since they can hang out on a tree limb and create their own 'self-serve,' we call that a 'plant hippie!' So rad, dude! 

Breathe deep and do your exercises cause these little puppies will help you sleep. They emit oxygen into the air. A great bedside companion while you sleep! 

If you're making your list and checking it twice, add these for your inner hippie self and grab some! Then have a 'show and tell' hour when it blooms, and don't forget to tag us on social media! We want to celebrate the 'big reveal' with you! 

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