Easy methods to Look after Air Crops: A Tillandsia Rising Information

Tillandsias are fascinating beauties generally referred to as Air Crops as a result of they don’t develop in soil. They’re enjoyable to develop and have been well-liked within the houseplant world for years. Discover ways to look after air crops and get a couple of concepts on displaying them.

This was initially written after I lived in Santa Barbara, CA, and grew most of my air crops outside. I now stay in Tucson, AZ, the place I develop them indoors. Most individuals develop them indoors, however the place relevant, I’ll contact on rising them outside too.

Botanic Identify: Tillandsia spp    Widespread Identify: Air Crops (there are lots of air plant species)

Notice: This was printed on 8/13/2013. It was up to date on 3/6/2024.

How To Care For Air Crops

Multiple air plants are in a decorative low dish with a piece of cholla wood.
Right here is an assortment of my air crops. I’m displaying them in a shallow pewter bowl on high of glass disks.

What to Know About Air Crops  

These members of the bromeliad household are epiphytes, and of their pure habitat, they develop connected to different crops, normally underneath the cover of a tree. Don’t fear—they’re not parasitic like mistletoe. The host plant is merely their technique of assist.  

Do you know that Spanish moss is a tillandsia? The most typical styles of air crops offered within the houseplant commerce are the Tillandsia ionantha and the Tillandsia xerographica. Each are xeric air crops,  which means they address low moisture. The xerographica’s leaves are thick, huge, and delicate to the contact. Different simple care favs are Tillandsia stricta and Tillandsia bulbosa.

Just a few of them, like the favored Tillandsia cyanea or Pink Quill Plant, can develop in soil, too. If you wish to study air plant care, please learn on. 

Air Plant Gentle Necessities

Brilliant, oblique gentle is greatest. Your air crops mustn’t get scorching, direct solar as a result of they’ll burn. Full solar is okay so long as they’re away from scorching home windows.

One in all my air crops grows in my kitchen on a window sill with a northern publicity the place it will get loads of gentle, however no solar hits it. They require gentle circumstances much like pothos, dracaenas, or rubber crops.  Air crops with extra silver of their foliage or thick foliage can take extra gentle.  

Air crops don’t do properly in low gentle for the lengthy haul. I’ve heard they develop effective in satisfactory synthetic gentle, however I’ve no expertise with this.  

Outdoor: I grew bromeliads in my Santa Barbara backyard; some might take extra gentle than others. Most of my tillandsias grew on my coated entrance porch, and loved the brilliant morning solar filtered by a loquat tree.

How To Water Air Crops

How typically you water your air crops is determined by the kind and your own home’s setting.

Usually, spraying or soaking your air crops 1-2 occasions every week is greatest. Should you’re in a drier local weather like me, it’s possible you’ll must mist them each few days and soak them weekly. Your temperature and humidity ranges all year long may also play a component. I at all times use room-temperature water when soaking or spraying my air crops.

The finer leaf varieties would profit from a superb soak extra typically, however don’t allow them to soak too lengthy. If water sits of their facilities, they’ll “mush” out. It’s essential to shake off all the surplus water after soaking.  Your xeric air crops gained’t want it as typically.

I soak mine for about half-hour and allow them to dry the other way up. Though air crops love moisture, they’re topic to rot. You may soak them in a pail, bowl of water, or the sink.

Water high quality will be complicated. Some say faucet water (with out extra chlorine) is suitable; whereas some swear by bottled spring or distilled water.

I actually can’t say as a result of I’ve at all times used filtered water for my air crops. My house in Santa Barbara had a reverse osmosis system, and my kitchen faucet in Tucson has a filtration system. 

Both manner, they want vitamins from a water supply, so I’m uncertain about purified or distilled water. I did know somebody who used purified water for his air crops however put a diluted quantity of meals within the water each time he soaked them.

They don’t like salts (a few of us have extra minerals in our faucet water than others do), so if you happen to do, let the water sit within the pail for a day or two earlier than soaking. You possibly can do the identical with the water within the spray bottle. 

After all, rain water is greatest. After we get rain (not often within the desert), I put my air crops exterior.

In case your air plant is blooming, it’s okay to soak the foliage however keep away from soaking the flower.

Outdoor: Once I lived in Santa Barbara, CA, seven blocks from the ocean, my tillandsias took in moisture from the air. I soaked them solely as soon as each 4-6 weeks, and the smaller ones get a superb spray as soon as each week or two.

A beautiful arrangement of different varieties of air plants, aka tillandsias.
The beautiful Air Crops that I grew in Santa Barbara, CA.


Most of them are native to locations with excessive humidity. Our properties are likely to have drier air, so that is the place common misting (two to 3 occasions every week) helps. I stay in a dry, scorching local weather and mist mine thrice per week.

The xeric air crops, like the favored T. xerographica and T. ionantha, higher tolerate low humidity.


That is easy; there isn’t any must make it extra difficult. They like heat circumstances—temperatures no increased than 85 or 90 levels F and none under 45.

Air Plant Fertilizer

Air crops soak up vitamins by their leaves. Feeding will assist them to develop a bit quicker, pup (make new child crops) and maybe flower if you happen to do. A fertilizer particular for bromeliads is greatest.

Both soak them within the fertilizer blended with water or take them to the sink and spray them (with the fertilizer in a sprig bottle) in the event that they’re connected to one thing like a rock or piece of wooden.  

I by no means fertilized my air crops rising outside in Santa Barbara as a result of they absorbed vitamins from the air.

Air Circulation

One other easy one – they want good air circulation. Maintain them out of closed terrariums.


Not a lot is required. Often, I’ve to trim off lifeless decrease leaves. I typically do that with my micro snips as a result of typically they don’t pull off simply, and I don’t need to injury the plant.

In search of methods to show your tillandsias? Listed here are 10 simple methods to hold air crops.

Multiple air plants are displayed on wooden tillandsia as well as a singe tillandsia displayed in an air plant hanger.
These are two well-liked methods to show Air Crops.


Bromeliads, together with air crops, produce pups (infants) on the base of the plant simply earlier than or after flowering. As soon as they’re sufficiently big to assist themselves, you’ll be able to take away them by peeling them off or utilizing a pointy blade.

Brown Ideas On Air Crops

Brown leaf suggestions are an indication of stress. My air crops have them because of the dry desert air and lack of humidity. Different causes embrace not sufficient water and an excessive amount of solar.


These resilient crops can often be infested with scale bugs and mealybugs. The simplest solution to eliminate them is to dip a cotton swab in half water, and half rubbing alcohol and take away them.


Air crops flower solely as soon as of their life. Completely different species bloom at completely different occasions and have several types of flowers.

Excellent news, unhealthy information, excellent news. Air crops do flower. After flowering, they finally die. The flowering course of triggers pups (child crops) to look on the base of the plant.

You may minimize the lifeless flower off, stalk and all. Wait till the pups are massive sufficient to assist themselves, and take away them.

Tillandsia Air plant sits inside a person planter with woman's hands shown in background.
I like this pleased particular person air plant holder – it makes me smile each time I see it!

Air Plant Show Concepts

Many enjoyable methods exist to indicate off your cute little air crops! They embrace air plant holders, air plant frames, air plant hangers, ceramic vases, air plant cradles, driftwood, cholla wooden, and extra.

You may as well grasp them with one thing less complicated like fishing line, copper wire, or jute string. I don’t suggest coated terrariums or glass jars as a result of they don’t present satisfactory air circulation.

Air crops are nice for crafting and creating and for youths as starter crops. Take a look at our Amazon store for air crops and equipment. Be warned: when you get a couple of, you’ll need extra!

Poisonous to Cats and Canines

They’re reportedly non-toxic to pets.

I do know from expertise that cats like to munch on their crunchy leaves. Oscar, my tuxedo kitty, partially chewed three of them. My air crops have since been moved to increased grounds!

How To Care For Air Crops Video Information

Air crops are low upkeep, develop with out soil, and are enjoyable to tuck right here and there.  Add one or two to your plant assortment – they don’t require a lot if any, room!

Completely happy Gardening,

Signed by Nell Foster
Close up of air plants on a twisted stick the text reads how to care for your tillandsias.

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