Air Plant Care and Maintenance Advice

How to Look After Air Plants

Indoor Air Plant Care

Tillandsias which are kept in the house need to be watched closely in the initial month until they have established themselves in their new environment. They love fresh air, good light, and humidity – conditions often absent in the home. However, since tillandsias possess the ability to adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions, they often will grow (or at least not decline) indoors if they are given as much of their natural surroundings as possible.


Air Plant Light

Tillandsias kept in the house should receive plenty of indirect or diffused light from a nearby window. They should not be left in the direct sun in the summer months (this will cause the plant to become sunburned ).


Air Plant Artificial Light

Fluorescent light is best. Plant should be no further than 36″ from the fluorescent tubes and can be as close as 6″. Light should not exceed 12 hours per day.


Watering Air Plants

Watering is critical indoors since there is usually a lack of humidity, especially in homes or offices with air conditioning and/or central heating. Regulate spraying according to growing conditions. The amount of watering required will vary according to temperature, light and air movement. As a guide, thoroughly wet your Tillandsia 2-3 times per week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in cool, humid conditions. Care should be taken to give air plants enough light and air circulation and they should dry in no longer than 4 hours after watering. Never use tap water where a water softener has been installed. Rain water is ideal.

Generous spray misting is sufficient as a means of watering in average weather conditions. But additional watering will be required in a dry hot environment.

A successful way to water loose plants which are dehydrating, is to totally submerge them in room temperature rain water containing a small amount of fertiliser. They should remain submerged overnight, or at least for a few hours. If submersion is not possible due to them being glued to an arrangement, plants can be held under a running tap, but always shake off excess water, as Tillandsias will not survive in standing water, this will cause the plant to rot.

Under-watering is evident by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf.


Air Plant Air Circulation

Following each watering, Tillandsias should be given enough light and air circulation to allow to dry in 4 hours or less. Do not keep plants constantly wet or moist.


Air Plant Temperature

Tillandsias tolerate a wide rage of temperatures from very hot away from direct sunlight – down to 8 to 10 degrees C depending on plant variety.


Air Plant Fertiliser

Feed weekly with Key Essentials air plant fertiliser in spring and summer. Fortnightly in autumn and winter.


Air Plants in Vivariums and other Animal Enclosures

Enclosures must have at least one side of screen mesh. Full spectrum fluorescent lighting is ideal, but care must be taken to avoid placing air plants too close to heat producing bulbs.
Good air circulation and proper watering schedule must be maintained.


Mounting Air Plants

Care should be taken to avoid attaching the air plant deep into a hole that will cover much of the base.
Mount plants on almost anything, – Driftwood, seashells, coral, rock, crystals.
There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of glue; but generally, we recommend our silicone rubber fixative to accomplish the task. Care must be taken not to get fixative on the very base of the plant thus enabling any small roots to develop. As this fixative takes some hours to set, it is wise to use some kind of support to hold it in its place while it cures. An elastic band, wire or string is ideal. Hot glue can also be used, which dries in seconds. When hot glue is used, care must be taken with small species. The glue comes out of the gun at 190 degrees C. If this heat reaches the growing tip tissue, the plant may die. If the plant has a good root base on which to put the glue, the process should not be a problem if one is careful. One tip is to wait 10-30 seconds before attaching the plant. This gives the glue on the mounting surface a chance to cool a little. A word of caution, plants that are stuck into holes often rot when the base becomes wet and does not have an opportunity to dry. This mistake occurs often when the plants are stuck down into the opening of a seashell.

Too much moss wrapped around the base of a plant, can cause a problem as this can block air circulation, and as it remains wet for longer, will probably cause the plant to rot. As long as only a small amount of moss is used, you should have no problems.


Just remember, it is important to maintain Tillandsias properly: the key care factors are an equal balance of Light, Water, and Air Circulation.