How to Care for Air Plants


Air plants are native to Central and South America, where they thrive in mountains, woodlands, deserts, and rainforests. They grow on trees and rocks in their natural habitat, and even on roofs of houses in the suburbs. These plants have trichomes on their soft leaves, which enables them to extract water and nutrients from the open air. Their flowers are vivid and exotic when in bloom, and their ease of care makes for the perfect houseplant.


In the wild, these plants like to hook onto any surface using their strong root system. For proper housing, you can put them in anything from a glass terrarium, to a small pot, or any other nook and cranny they can settle in. To help maintain humidity you can include a spongy moss inside the terrarium which can trap additional moisture. These plants cannot handle frost, so keep them protected from the cold.


Place them at a south or east facing window where they can get bright, indirect sun, like above the kitchen sink or a well-lit bathroom. Don’t place them in direct sunlight, or they can burn. This especially applies to terrariums as the glass can create a magnifying effect and increase the temperature inside drastically. Gradually, the plant may turn a bright red when put under the right conditions. The best temperature for air plants is about 50 – 90F.


There is a common misconception that just because an air plant can get water from the air, they don’t need to be watered. But the normal conditions they would experience in the wilderness aren’t like the dry, air conditioned rooms we have in our modern homes. The best way to hydrate the plant is to totally submerge it in bottled water for up to twelve hours. In that time, the plant will take in all the water it needs, so you won’t have to worry about over watering. You would only need to do this about every two weeks, depending on how hot or dry your area is.


These plants need a special air plant water soluble fertilizer (17-8-22), that contains nitrogen in the form that they can easily absorb. Just add the fertilizer at the recommended dosage in the water you’ll use to soak the plant. Fertilize twice a month. If you’re using pond or aquarium water, then you don’t need to fertilize.