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How to Care for Air Plants

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017

Air plants, known botanically as tillandsia, are a genus of epiphytic bromeliads that survive by absorbing moisture and nutrients from the ambient air through the delicate scales coating their spiny foliage. Many air plants resemble a pineapple top in form and coloration and they are, in fact, related to the pineapple through the bromeliad family. Air plants require frequent misting and periodic feeding and bathing but do not require repotting as they do not grow in soil.

Place your air plants in a growing location where they will receive bright indirect or well-filtered direct sunlight for six to eight hours each day. Refrain from direct sunlight as this can burn and dehydrate the plants rapidly.

Mist your air plants every other day with tepid water from a spray mister bottle. Ambient humidity is important to prevent the very fine tips of the foliage from browning and curling. In very dry or warm climates or seasons daily misting may be needed.

Bathe your air plants once every seven to 10 days by soaking in a bowl, sink or bucket filled with clean, tepid water. Let them soak or float for roughly 30 minutes, then drain and place back into their usual growing environment.

Feed your air plants once a month to every six weeks with a liquid all-purpose plant food. Dilute the fertilizer with water in your spray mist bottle at 25 percent of the recommended strength. Spray all over the plants until wet but do not let the plant sit in a pool of fertilizer-laden water.


Things You Will Need

  • Spray mist bottle
  • Water
  • Bowl, sink or bucket
  • Liquid plant fertilizer


  • Never rub the leaves of an air plant as this can damage the nearly invisible scales they need to metabolize nutrients. If the air plants are dusty, the weekly bath should suffice to clean them. Other than when bathing, refrain from handling the plants as much as possible.