Ever felt like sprucing up your home or office with a bit of green, or something nice hanging off the walls or ceiling? You might have been thinking of air plants.
Some people go the traditional way of using more common plants, potting some flowers and starting their own herb garden. But in a house where time is a luxury, air plants are the way to go.
Air plants (sometimes called Aerial Plants) are one of the best (not to mention cheap!) additions to your home. These plants don’t only look luxurious, they also have several effects on the air we breathe; they essentially become a healthy air filter aside from being cute little things floating about.
Let’s get to know them: how they grow, how to take care of them, how to keep them alive, and where to buy them.
- What are Air Plants?
- The Best Air Plants for your Home
- Lady-of-the-Night Orchid
- Vanilla Bean Orchid
- Dancing Lady Orchid Air Plant
- Lady’s Slipper ORCHID
- Guarianthe Skinneri
- Spider Air Plants
- Brachycaulos × Abdita
- Tillandsia Xerographica AERIAL PLANT
- Tillandsia Tectorum Ecuador
- Tillandsia Stricta
- Tillandsia Ionantha
- Tillandsia Funkiana
- Tillandsia Bulbosa
- Tillandsia Aeranthos
- Tillandsia Caput – medusae
- The Benefits of Adding Air Plants to Your Home
- Air Plants Maintenance and Caring
- Commonly Asked Air Plants Questions
- Final Thoughts on Air Plants
What are Air Plants?
Air Plants are plants that have roots above the ground. You will find most of them hung in pots with little to no soil at all. There are many types of air plants. Some of them still have the traditional terrestrial roots, like the spider plant, but even this one doesn’t rely on them to survive.
Some air plants, called epiphytes, have completely given up soil dependence. The textbook example for this is the orchid (pictured above). They have developed their roots and don’t need the soil to collect nutrients, instead, they collect them from the air while relying on a third-party plant for support.
These plants are most often sought after by indoor gardeners and landscape architects due to the ease of growing and taking care of them. Most of these plants are also best put in places where one can easily see them, giving a calming and happy atmosphere.
Most air plants have several air-filtering properties, which is the number one reason for anyone trying to actively find these plants. You will definitely want to have these little cute greens hanging around.
The Best Air Plants for your Home
If you’re looking for help in choosing your first air plant to grow and take care of, then look no further. Below we have some helpful suggestions for plants suited to anyone.
The lady-of-the-night orchid (Brassavola Nodosa) is a species of the Brassavola air plant and is appropriately named for its nocturnal tendencies.
This air plant is known for being easy to grow, having long-lasting inflorescences, and its nightly scent that can easily encompass a large space.
The orchid has white showy flowers and an undeniable strong citrus scent, emitted in the dark hours to attract night-pollinating moths.
Vanilla Bean Orchid
It might come as a surprise to you to know that the famous and well-loved vanilla flavor is taken from an orchid!
The vanilla orchid (specifically Vanilla planifolia) is the only orchid commercially cultivated for its source of vanillin, the vanilla flavor. Unlike the Brassavolas, these air plants are quite hard to grow. The orchid grows like a vine, and its flowers only bloom for one day.
However, it is still worthwhile to pursue planting it as a novelty of having your own tiny vanilla farm (although you wouldn’t be harvesting and earning vanilla anytime soon with it).
Dancing Lady Orchid Air Plant
The dancing lady orchids, or the Oncidium orchids, are a group of diverse orchids, with equally diverse characteristics.
The classy lady pictured above is Oncidium sphacelatum, otherwise known as the ‘Kandyan Dancer’ because of its resemblance to a Sri Lankan dancer. Another well known Oncidium orchid is the Oncidium Sharry Baby, which smells like chocolate.
If you plan to grow a lively and fragrant air plant collection, you would be amiss to skimp over the unique chocolaty smell and gorgeous shapes of these orchids.
Lady’s Slipper ORCHID
The lady’s slipper orchids or Cypripedioideae get their name from the slipper-like pouches of their flowers.
When insects fall inside these pouches, they are covered with pollen, this is how this particular plant reproduces!
A good number of these orchids aren’t actually air plants and grow better on land, but some can handle being potted lightly and made into aerial plants, like the one in the image above, the American yellow.
The Guarianthe Skinneri is a well-known orchid and a great air plant to add to your collection! Its found in warm areas of the US like Florida and the Gulf Coast. In fact, this orchid is actually the national flower of Costa Rica.
Guarianthe Skinneri is fairly easy to grow, like other air plants. Because of this, it could be a quick and easy one to grow in your home.
Spider Air Plants
The spider plant or Chlorophytum Comosum is one of the easiest air plants to grow, and it’s also one of the best for air purification.
The plant is durable and adaptable, so can be a good air plant for your bedroom, bathroom, or anywhere else in your home.
The spider plant owes its name to its spiderettes, or the small plants sprouting from the mother plant. These spiderettes can become spider plants themselves, by potting them.
This plant is more terrestrial than aerial, however, so taking care of it is more similar to that of plants on soil than hanging ones.
Brachycaulos × Abdita
This cute Tillandsia (air plants) is a hybrid of the Tillandsia Brachycaulos and Tillandsia Abdita. Both the Brachycaulos and the Abdita exhibit bright red hues in full bloom.
It wouldn’t be the strangest thing for their hybrid to produce vivid red and pink inflorescences in their prime. These species are both highly coveted due to their significant shift of hue from growth to bloom.
Your collection could be missing something without one of these air plants. They are also relatively easy to grow and take care of: looks great, and no fuss.
Tillandsia Xerographica AERIAL PLANT
Ahh… Tillandsia xerographica, perhaps the grandest of the aerial plants.
With its long tapering leaves waving below its own base, it forms a tight rosette. You will hear much about this huge Tillandsia for its full and spherical shape. Its curls at the tips of its leaves and the magnificence of its rosette base are its unique charms.
These all make excellent reasons to include this aerial plant in your home as part of your indoor garden!
Tillandsia Tectorum Ecuador
Requiring the most minimal of care, the T. Tectorum Ecuador is a furry little friend for your other air plants.
Gathering from its name, this tiny one hails from the warm, warm lands of Peru and Ecuador. Due to the benefits of its trichomes – small hairs or outgrowths, this plant has become quite frugal with its use of nutrients.
Because of this, it is a good air plant for beginners. In fact, there are more not-to-dos than to-dos in taking care of this little fellow!
Tillandsia Stricta flowers can be considered a one-hit-wonder in the world of air plants. This is due to the fact that T. Stricta only blooms once. To make up for it, the flowers last longer.
Common to all Tillandsias is that these air plants also require very little maintenance. After blooming, “pups” grow from under the flower. You can take the pups off when they reach a third of their mother plant’s size and let them grow independently.
The T. Ionantha air plant is definitely one of the most popular of the air plants. They are popular because they are very easy air plants to take care of.
The growth cycle of the ionanthas start with green and silver-hued leaves. Over time, the leaves extend outward as their green hue becomes darker.
When the blooming phase commences, the leaves create a red and pink gradient together with the greens, just like in our picture.
Tillandsia funkiana air plants probably look more like a cactus than anything else. At first, it looks sharp, but the plant is actually extremely soft. Its also hardy, making it a beginner-friendly Tillandsia.
It grows on a stem and exhibits lightly-colored greens, making it a beautiful accent anywhere in the home. It also clusters very well, as seen in the image above.
These Tillandsia Bulbosa air plants can cast creepy shadows in the night. With its long-winding arms reminiscent of snakes or tentacles, it would be more scary than beautiful if not for its Tillandsia-ness.
In the bright light, the Bulbosa is a tiny beauty to behold. Its flat leaves form the eponymous bulb, where the arms also come from. As with most Tillandsias, the Bulbosa is a breeze to take care of.
Anybody new to gardening would welcome this air plant as an addition to their home.
The Tillandsia Aeranthos is best friends with the hummingbird in its natural habitat. The hummingbird itself is responsible for the Aeranthos’ pollination.
This air plant has stiff green leaves that point upward to its light source. In bloom, their flowers are pretty in their pink hues, dabbled with beautiful purple ones later on in the season.
To take care of this plant, you can remove the growing pups and let them grow independently or leave them be to form a clump. Either way, the Aeranthos in all its forms is a perfect addition to your home.
Tillandsia Caput – medusae
It goes by the common name octopus plant or medusa’s head, and rightfully so. With its pseudobulb and outstretched tentacles, Tillandsia Caput – Medusae could be compared to either.
But nevertheless, these air plants maintain all the common characteristics of Tillandsias. It is a beginner-friendly plant, can be formed individually or into clumps, and has trichomes which help it in taking in nutrients. It can also be planted in rocks as an aesthetic choice.
The Benefits of Adding Air Plants to Your Home
Air plants arguably rank the highest in terms of little to no maintenance house plants.
Setting them up might be a little tricky, especially the orchids, but after that, there’s nothing much else to do. They can practically take care of themselves, and because of this, they would be great for someone with a busy schedule.
But more than this, they actually work as a filter to the air in your house by purifying it of chemicals and toxins, as shown by the NASA clean air study. Most of all, they are disputably the most beautiful accents you can ever add to your home in a metropolitan setting.
Air Plants Maintenance and Caring
Maintenance tops all other reasons why anyone would consider an air plant. Most aerial plants, especially the Tillandsias, require less than an hour of your attention every month, making them some of the easiest plants to grow at home.
You only need to water them a few times a week. Even in passable conditions, they will thrive happily and you don’t have to bat an eye at taking care of them.
But this doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do for them. You just need to follow a few simple tips.
Due to their increased sensitivity to the air around, most of the maintenance of the plants will be during setup.
You will need to determine the optimal growing conditions of the air plants, and replicate them (a good exercise for any horticulturist!).
Top Tip: try keeping them near an artificial light, giving them a few hours near indirect sunlight, and watching out for any brown or dying tips!
How To Grow Air Plants
There are a variety of air plants around. Being highly reliant on air conditions other than anything else, you’ll need to understand a few things about different plants air conditioning requirements.
Orchids are fussy with their growing conditions. Adapted to tree heights despite their size, they usually require long hours with the sun (not directly) and proper air circulation.
They are especially sensitive to humidity, light levels, and temperature. In the absence of sunlight, artificial light can be used as a substitute.
The tillandsias are pretty much the same deal as the orchids. After getting the conditions right, though, you can be confident that they’ll grow well.
How To Care For Air Plants
We’ve done some research so you can learn how to care for different types of air plants, below are some helpful tips so you can keep your plants alive.
Most epiphytes, like the orchids, have developed to need just as much water as their natural environment can provide. Do your research to understand the type of plant you own, and water it the required amount, simple!
Some orchids have a moisture storing structure, which means you won’t need to water them as much, whilst others don’t, this means you’ll have to provide them with all the water they would’ve got in their natural environment.
Just remember, some orchids can go 2-3 weeks without water if watered properly in-between. But water them too much, and you’ll soon see the dark, mushy roots and yellowing leaves (tell-tale signs of overwatering).
With tillandsias, you can follow clues in their appearance.
You can estimate their water intake with a simple rule of thumb: hairy ones require less water, while glossy ones require more.
Like orchids, excessive moisture can damage them more, by letting them rot.
Also, most of them require no soil or trunk for support; they are perfectly happy suspended in metal prisms, as long as conditions are stable.
Where to Buy Air Plants
Many small and big companies are selling air plants in retail and in bulk. There are a number of creators on Etsy who sell air plants complete with visual complements. Amazon also provides a good selection if you’re looking for a larger range.
Air Plant Variety 12 Pack
- LARGE VARIETY OF SIZES AND SPECIES: You will receive a total of 12 air plants that are a wide assortment of species, each ranging from 2 to 5 inches in size.
- EASY CARE HOUSE PLANTS: Tillandsia Air Plants are extremely low maintenance and easy to care for. They require only a moderate amount of light, no soil, and only need watering about once a week.
- DIY HOME DECOR: These live plants are also great for do it yourself terrarium kits, holders, and hanging planters. Your creative ideas are the only thing that will limit what you can do with them.
Most outlets have pots and terrariums in store. If you want as little fuss as possible in setting up, you’re best off with getting one of these as well.
For garden hobbyists and expert gardeners, a niche market of air plant sellers exists solely for this purpose. These sellers have the advantage of having a much more diverse range of different air plants. They are usually expert gardeners themselves, so you can seek advice and guidance in taking care of the air plants. Try visiting your local independent gardening stores to find out more about these!
Commonly Asked Air Plants Questions
Air plants are unique plants that anyone can care for. As long as you have the right know-how, you can be on your way to enjoying air plants in no time at all. Here are some commonly asked questions to help you on your journey to owning a successful air plant garden:
Making sure you properly water your air plant is the most important step in taking care of it. Be sure to brush up on the soaking and care instructions that are specific to your plant when purchasing one, Read our guide on caring for air plants to learn everything you need to know!
The directions for soaking vary based on the type of plant you choose. On average, you can expect to soak them anywhere from twenty minutes to one hour, once every ten days. Ready to buy your first air plant? Here’s our guide on the best place to buy them.
Air plants are good for the environment they are in for a few different reasons. On a mental level, having these plants can make you feel more relaxed and focused. They also filter the air around you, making it easier to breathe.
Final Thoughts on Air Plants
Not everyone has the patience to watch a tree grow from seed. But that doesn’t stop anyone from dreaming.
Air plants, with the ease of setting them up and taking care of them, are the window where you can get to know your inner gardener.
Almost anyone can try out air plants, usually, at dirt-cheap prices and with a little research you can even use them for pain relief or making tea.
If you want to dabble in gardening, these plants are very much a good match for you. Even if you decide midway to give up the idea, you can still keep the plant and feel almost no change in your lifestyle, except the calming sight of green and floral colors bursting into the grey of the every-day.
Nancy Drew here. I am a biologist and I love all living things, but plants have a special place in my heart. I aim to bring plants and YOU closer again. If there’s one thing I want you to take with you, it is that plants aren’t intimidating if you have the necessary knowledge. That’s why I’m here. I will share everything I know about my beloved plants and hopefully, you decide to adopt one in your home. You know, for fresh air, something to talk to sometimes, and possibly an instant destresser. Yes, I talk to my plants. A lot actually! If you got any concerns about planting, please don’t hesitate to message me.