Air plants, or tillandsias, are versatile, adaptable garden plants that have become increasingly sought after in recent years.
As they are easy to care for and can grow under a variety of conditions, air plants are often used for home décor and purchased by plant enthusiasts.
Whether you’re a hobbyist, collector or just like the way air plants look, there are hundreds of types of air plants to choose from!
In this guide we’ll show you 16 types of air plants with pictures, so you can choose whatever plant will fit your personal needs and style.
What is an Air Plant?
Tillandsias, also known as air plants, are incredibly unique and popular plants. They are known for their small size and simplicity.
Air plants don’t have visible roots, and they require a mixture of air and water to grow. However, they’re not as dependent on water as traditional plants. Furthermore, air plants are epiphytes which means they do not require soil to grow. How cool is that?
Air plants are commonly given as gifts and displayed as home décor, but in their natural state, air plants attach themselves to neighboring trees or shrubs in warm climates.
When purchased as a household item, air plants are often seen in hangers or small habitats.
How to Water Air Plants
No soil, no problem! Watering your air plant is actually an easy task. Once a week, simply mist the plant until it’s saturated with water.
A standard spray bottle will do the trick! Then every couple of weeks or so, soak your air plant in a container of water for about 30 minutes.
It’s important to note that each air plant will have specific watering instructions.
Types of Air Plants With Pictures
If you’re curious as to what air plants look like, browse our photo gallery below!
- Also known as the sky plant
- Has a short stem
- Some bloom bright flowers
- Native in tropical climates
- Also known as Spanish Moss
- Is often found draped over tree branches
- Emits a delightful fragrance
- Leave hang down, rather than sprouting up like other air plants
- Native to Chiapas, Mexico
- Can thrive in full sun or partial shade
- Produces red and pink blooms
- Often found in a variety of climates
- Found in several South American countries
- There are a plethora of stricta varieties
- Exist in sand dunes as well as on trees
- Survives in an array of climate
Tillandsia Ionantha “Fuego”
- Beautifully distinct red color
- Creates a delightful ombre pattern with green, red and pink
- Extremely small in size
- Make a great addition to a terrarium
- As the name suggests, this plant resembles the head of Medusa.
- The long, spiral leaves grow horizontally.
- Can produce red or blue flowers
- Boasts a unique shape
- Originally found in Columbia
- Grows to be no more than 4 inches tall
- Leaves sprout from every angle of this plant
- Tubular flowers bloom from the center
- Spherical shape
- Doesn’t require as much water as other air plants
- Produces one spike that blooms into a red or yellow flower
- Native to a few different countries
- Blooms a vibrant purple flower
- Sometimes produces several flowers at once
- Native to Oaxaca, Mexico
- Handles sun and heat better than other air plants
- Should not be in direct sunlight
- Best suited for warm, humid regions
- Bloom lovely pink flowers
- Native to South America
- Sharp leaves grow in the same direction
- Quill-like leaves can curl into a distinct shape in order to adapt to an environment
- Leaves turn yellow when ready to bloom, then blossom into an orange flower
- Has a long pink stem and light green leaves
- Brilliant purple flower blooms from the stem
- These air plants naturally grow in clumps
- Previously known as tillandsia argentea
- Much larger than other air plants
- Native to South America
- Green and pink leaves sprout from all sides of the plant
- Produces a white flower
- Also known as the pink quill plant
- A unique air plant that can also be grown in soil
- Produces bright pink and violet flowers
- Thick, snake-like leaves
- Large base that looks like a bulb
- There are two types of bulbosa air plants.
- Grows large, reaching leaves that resemble a sea urchin
- Popular for container habitats
- Has a bulbous type base
Where to Buy Air Plants
You can purchase air plants at large garden retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s. You can also buy them on Amazon (yes, we know you Prime lovers are excited)!
While big-box stores like Walmart also carry air plants, you’ll find more of a selection and variety on specialty air plant websites.
How to Display Air Plants
There are many trendy, modern and traditional ways you can display your air plants.
- Terrarium: Great for table decoration and the tiniest of air plants.
- Clay planters: Excellent for small spaces such as patios, gardens or an office.
- Wall planters: Save space while adding a burst of life to the room.
- Hangers: A welcome look to any space, big or small.
Air plants are a welcome addition to any botanical arrangement. Whether you’re decorating your home or a wedding event, you are sure to find air plants that fit the style you’re looking for.
Tips for Growing an Air Plant
- Remember to soak your air plant every 2-3 weeks. Misting is important for consistency, but it’s just as important to dunk your plant routinely.
- After your plant soaks, allow it to air dry in the sun for about 4 hours. It needs to fully dry out to continue thriving, as dampness can be an enemy to air plants.
- Indirect sunlight is best for air plants. Direct sun can be beneficial for drying after a soak, but if left in the sun too long, your air plant could dry out.
- Don’t be afraid to add fertilizer to your misting regimen. Simply mix the fertilizer into your water and use it once a month.
- Air plants need fresh airflow. Although containers and terrariums are super attractive, take your air plants out every so often so they can get fresh air circulation outside of the enclosure.
- Don’t leave your air plants out in freezing temperatures. Tillandsias need a warmer climate in order to stay alive.
Frequently Asked Questions About Air Plants
How many types of air plants are there?
It’s said that there are over 450 varieties of tillandsias. That sure is a lot to choose from! There are even air plant hybrids, which will blow that 450 figure out of the water.
What kind of plants are air plants?
Air plants are of the tillandsia genus and bromeliad family. They do not require soil to grow, and do not require as much water as traditional plants.
How fast do air plants grow?
The growth rate of an air plant will depend on which one you’re growing. If the air plant is starting as a seedling, growth will be slow over the first 1-2 years.
If the plant is a few years old, it will grow more rapidly. Overall, air plants grow slowly, so patience is required to watch them bloom and flourish.
Air plants receive plenty of admiration from curious onlookers. They are trendy, unique and add diversity to any space.
What makes air plants special is the hundreds of varieties available for purchase, as well as the simplistic maintenance.
So drive over to your local garden store or browse the web for your next air plant. You’re sure to find something you like!
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