How to care for air plants

I’ve mentioned in past posts about my love of giant tillandsia, and while I’m no gardening expert, I wanted to share some fast tips on keeping these guys healthy year-round in the great indoors (sadly, it’s too cold in Chicago and most northern climates for air plants to survive outdoors). Bonus–they’re really easy to take care of once you establish a routine!

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For starters, you can find air plants in all sorts of different sizes at your local gardening center, but if you live in a remote area or don’t have a garden center nearby, there are some online retailers who sell air plants at a reasonable price.

A few of my favorite shops:

Mountain Crest Gardens

Air Plant Shop, on Etsy

Now onto caring for these beautiful little plants!

Light

First, keep in mind the amount of natural sunlight that comes in your home and position your plant to receive sunlight most of  the day. Be sure not to place your plant in direct sunlight during the summer months as the leaves can burn, although, between March and December, your plant can thrive in direct sunlight.

Temperature

Air plants should be kept between 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter months, move your plants away from drafty windows to protect them from frostbite.

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Watering

Now, here’s where the “heavy lifting” comes in. Experts recommend watering your plants 2-3 times a week, or alternatively, soaking them for up to one hour once a week. Watering consists of fully submerging your plant in water–I usually run them under the sink, making sure no leaf has any dry spots left about once a week, but you may want to water more often. A good indicator that your plant needs water is that the leaves will curl under themselves and your plant will “shrink.” Another indication that your plant is thirsty is its color; your plant will turn a more vibrant shade of green with regular waterings.It helps to remember that air plants absorb water through their leaves, not through their bulbs or base.

The other item to note, that I’ve learned from first-hand experience, is to lay your plants out on a paper towel post-watering, and if you’re caring for giant tillandsias–like the one’s in my photos–turn them upside down to ensure no water is left standing in between the leaves. I’ve had a plant rot on me after not properly draining it from its weekly waterings so be sure not to miss this step!

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Mounting

Air plants are fairly durable, you often will see them attached to mossy walls or driftwood branches. Invest in water soluble glue or fishing line to mount your plants, but be aware that you will still need to continue with regular watering, misting air plants is a great idea for in between waterings, but misting or say humidity from a bathroom is not enough moisture for air plants to survive.

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