image of three small air plants growing

Growing Air Plants – Displaying in Hypertufa?

As you know from a previous plant shopping video I made on my YouTube Channel Kim’s Gardens, I have purchased three new air plants. Growing air plants should be easy, right? But I have been known to kill them…I must proceed carefully.

I don’t have a good record with Air Plants. Previously I had some really colorful Air Plants but I allowed them to die! During the Christmas holidays, I am sorry to say I neglected them and they all dried up beyond saving.

Air Plants on Creative Display

Air Plants or Tillandsia are some fascinating little (and some really large) plants that just seem to be a bit of plastic decor. But they are living things that use the moisture and surrounding air for nutrients to keep them alive.

What Light Do Air Plants Need?

Tillandsia or air plants need to have light to survive. For these plants to survive and thrive, it is best to have filtered bright or indirect light such as an east facing window.

Grow lights can also be used and this is what I am planning to do this winter. My Garden Room is in the basement and has decent humidity for my plants.

Hairy appearance – I think this is Caput Medusa

However, these air plants can be displayed in low light areas and will still survive.

Moisture For Air Plants?

It will be necessary to display air plants in a way that will allow you to supply the moisture that they will need. High humidity is great. So here is the reason you see air plants displayed in terrariums.

The larger the terrarium is compared to the size of the tillandsia itself will give you an idea of how much moisture is needed. Bigger bowl, more air circulation, more drying out, needs more moisture.

Smaller bowl or terrarium will have less air circulation, less drying out, and need less moisture.

Note: Air Plants are NOT for covered terrariums. Without the air circulation, they will rot or die quickly from a fungal disease.

Air Plant Care – Drying out the base

Moisture is applied by removing the growing air plant from its container or wire stand and soaking the air plant in water for about 20-30 minutes. If this is not possible, slightly misting with a spray bottle of aged tap water or rainwater. Be sure to allow the plant to dry off (especially in the crown or base of the plant) before placing it back in the terrarium.

Air plants are susceptible to rotting if the crown or base of the plant is left wet for too long. Be sure to allow time to dry out. If possible, set them upside down for a bit before replacing them back into the glass terrarium or fixture.


How Do I Choose A Healthy Air Plant?

Tillandsias or air plants usually are a greenish or greenish-gray color, but some can get quite colorful. I had one previously that had very red branches or leaves and I just loved it.

When you choose one to buy, feel its texture. It should not “crunch” because that indicates it is very dried out already, not a good candidate to purchase. The leaves should seem sturdy but pliable, springing back into shape if you gently squish them.

Of course, there should be no yellowing or browned leaves. A tiny blemish here and there is fine, but don’t start with an air plant that has “one foot in the grave” already.

Beware of those artificially painted air plants. I see so many succulents painted, and I understand they paint air plants too. Big NO! to those sellers.

How Can I Tell When My Air Plant Needs Water?

If you look closely at your Air Plant, you may see that it has a velvety appearance with tiny scales or hairs. Some of the photos I took of mine seem almost feathery on the surface of its length and structure.

These hairs or scales are called trichomes. These trichomes are the structures that absorb the nutrients from the air and moisture to nurture the plant and keep it alive.

Softened water is not good to use because of the salt content, and tap water is also bad because of high mineral content that might clog those trichomes. ( My Dayton water won’t be good for them at all.

I am using lukewarm water from the dehumidifier from the finished side of the basement. It is almost like distilled water and works well for my other plants too.

How Can I Display My Air Plants?

Here is a video that I have created with a few suggestions for displaying your air plants as they grow. Of course, I had to put one in a small hypertufa pot. But they can be in Terrariums, hung with wire or fishing line, grids on a photo frame, and many other options.


My YouTube Channel - Kim's Gardens

I think these are easy plants but be cautious. They are so easy that you forget you have them and forget to mix or soak them. I will put a reminder on my phone so that I won’t forget and lose mine.

Wonder how big those would have been by now? More information on growing air plants can be found here.

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