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  • Marie McKinsey


Updated: Jun 26

Updated: 12/20/22 Originally published 6/26/2016

Tillandsia setacea, an air plant. It has grass-like leaves that are green at the base, gradually turning red at the tips.
Tillandsia setacea

Tillandsias are popular house plants - and for good reasons. They are easy to care for, inexpensive, and come in a variety of foliage and flower colors.

They are air plants, members of the Bromeliad family, native to Central and South America, the southern US and the Caribbean.

Tillandsia xerographic is often called the King of  Air Plants because of its size.
Tillandsia xerographica is often called the King of Air Plants because of its size.

Air plants are ephiphytes, plants that do not root in soil. They use their roots to hold onto other plants, but they don't draw resources from the plants they attach to. They get the water and nutrients they need from the air, water and organic material around them.

You don't need soil or special planters to grow tillandsias. You can display them in whatever bowl or container suits your imagination. They come in various shapes and colors, making them fun to arrange and display.


The three key requirements for these plants are:

  • Water - these plants draw what they need from moisture in the air and the water you give them. Give them a quick soak, 5 minutes or so, two or three times a week, depending on how dry or humid your home is. Once or twice a month, add a Bromeliad or other water soluble fertilizer to the water, following package directions.

  • Light - tillandsias like bright light, so put them near a sunny window. They can take direct sunlight in winter months and filtered sunlight in summer.

  • Air circulation - tillandsias need good air circulation. They need to be in a spot where they can dry out completely within four hours of being watered.

If you've never had luck with houseplants before, try tillandsias!


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