The Top 3 Questions About Air Plants, Answered

Beautiful tillandsia air plants in geometric concrete vessels by The Savvy Heart, a creative design studio in Seattle

If you remember my blog post from last week, I talked about the three most common questions we get asked about our concrete vessels. So, I thought that it was only fitting to piggyback off of that post with another one answering the most common questions we receive about air plants.  

If you've never seen or heard of air plants before, don't worry, you're not alone. Their scientific name is tillandsia, but their street name is an air plant, or back in the 70's, they were called air ferns. They're a little different than a typical plant and require slightly different care. Not to intimidate you though, they are one of the simplest plants to care for if you pay attention to a couple of important tips I'm going to share.

I hope this post helps you out whether youve never heard of air plants, or already own one and you're jus tlooking for a little help. Here are the top three questions we get asked about air plants.


Are Air Plants a living plant - 3 most common questions about tillandsia answered by the savvy heart

1 | Is it Alive?


Yes! It's a real plant! It's an epiphyte to be exact, which means it grows on other plants, kind of like moss.  But, even though it's naturally found growing on other plants, it can survive perfectly fine by itself, unattached, with the proper care. And the best part? It doesn't need any dirt or soil!

Do air plants need water - 3 most common questions about tillandsia answered by the savvy heart.jpg.jpg.jpg

2 | You don't have to water it, right?


They don't require dirt, but they still need water like the rest of us.  A normal misting of 2-3 times a week will suffice. You can also opt to water them by soaking them every couple of weeks in a bowl of luke-warm water for 15-30 minutes at a time, and then turning upside down to dry. But, after talking with customers about their air plant stories, we've come to the conclusion that people tend to over-water/ don't let them dry thoroughly when using the soaking method.

You want to avoid getting any standing water lodged deep in between the leaves. This can cause the air plant to rot, and the base will start to become mushy. We prefer to tip it upside down and mist from the bottom.

It's also important to be thoughtful about the climate you live in because that will change how frequent you will need to water it. Air plants thrive in warm weather that is slightly humid. So, for example, if your environment is cold and let's say your furnace is on, the air will become a little dry, and the air plants may require a bit more water or more frequent mistings.

Watering is just one thing that you'll have to play by ear. We suggest to start with mistings about 3 times a week and work your way to soaking if that's something you're interested in.

How do air plants grow- 3 most common questions about tillandsia answered by the savvy heart.jpg.jpg.jpg

3 | How does it grow?


Like I mentioned in question number one,  air plants naturally grow on other trees, with their roots helping them attach to branches and the trunk. They grow in clumps from one mother plant, and each plant only blooms once in its life! Once the mother plant flowers, it will start developing pups, which are small baby plants that will grow at the base of it.

As you can see in the picture above, this air plant already bloomed. The once beautiful bloom is slowly dying off, and small pups are forming side by side in a clump like fashion near the base. When the air plant has babies, it's normal for the mother plant to lose a couple of leaves and eventually die off because it's giving all its nutrients to the babies. 

You can jump-start the blooming process of an air plant by adding a little fertilizer to the water, or kept under restricted light and watering, it might never bloom. It's important to keep in mind that air plants will only bloom in just the right environment and it may take years.  I'll admit, they're a little finicky in that regard. 

The top three questions people ask about tillandsia air plants

I hope this post answered some of your burning questions about air plants. I know air plants can be a little confusing at first, but trust me, they're one of the easiest plants Jacob and I have ever owned. Plus they're small and inexpensive, so there's really nothing to lose if you want to try one out!

If you have any other questions for us regarding air plants, let us know in the comments below, or, of course, feel free to contact us!


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Hi there! Thanks for stopping by! I'm Terra and that's my fiance, Jacob. We're the co-founders of The Savvy Heart, a creative design studio in Seattle. I run the majority of our blog, where I talk about all things design. You can expect to find inspiration, more about The Savvy Heart, design talk, how-to's, videos and more! Find us on Instagram  @thesavvyheart for more!

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