Everything You Need to Know About Caring for Air Plants

...plus the absolute coolest ways to display them.

Desk with various stationery objects
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The first thing you think when you see an air plant is how cute they are with their spiky, spidery little leaves. The second thing? Unless you know a ton about plants, probably confusion. They don't grow in soil, and they don't really have visible roots like you're used to, so caring for them isn't quite so intuitive. But don't be mistaken by the name—air plants do, in fact, need water and a decent amount of care. And while they're easy to care for, they're also not as low-maintenance as you might think.

Oh, and here's a fun fact: Air plants (Tillandsia) are a part of the Bromeliaceae family of plants—meaning they're related to pineapples.



So, How Do You Water an Air Plant?

Air plants might get most of their nutrients from the air, but they definitely need water to survive. You can mist your air plants, but the best way to care for them is to submerge them in water. According to Air Plant Supply Co., they need to be submerged in a water bath for about 20 to 30 minutes, then shake them off gently to remove excess water before putting them in a spot with bright light and good air circulation (you want them to dry off in about four hours).

In terms of frequency, you should be watering your air plants once a week, and it's recommended that you let them soak for longer—about two hours—every two to three weeks, too. For in between waterings, you can mist them. If your air plant is flowering, skip submerging it and try rinsing it instead. If you're unsure if your plant is thirsty, you can tell by checking the leaves. A dehydrated air plant's foliage will be softer and lighter in color, and the leaves might also appear wrinkled or rolled.

Air plants soaking in a water bath.
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How Much Light Do Air Plants Need?

Air plants thrive under bright, indirect sunlight, but they're also great office plants since they also do well under fluorescent lighting. A little bit of direct sunlight is okay, according to Air Plant Supply Co., but too much will deplete your air plants of all their moisture, which is not good for the plant. If you do keep your air plants in a location that's particularly bright, make sure you mist them every couple of days to compensate.

What About Temperature?

Don't keep your air plant in a spot where it'll get too cold—they thrive in warmer conditions, so you'll want them to be somewhere in the range between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Air Plant Supply Co. If temperatures dip below that range, your air plant might die.

The good news is, air plants, while they do require maintenance, are also really forgiving plants that can bounce back. They can survive periods of drought, they just can't do without water forever.

What Else Should You Know?

Six Assorted Air Plants
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There's a little more maintenance to air plants, beyond keeping them at an optimal temperature, in the right amount of light, and watering them appropriately. If you notice your air plant has any dried or browning leaves, you should snip them off to keep it healthy, according Costa Farms. You can also help them stay even more on the up-and-up with nutrients by giving them plant food—look for formulas specifically made for air plants, or bromeliads in general.

Not only that, but air plants can have babies—yes, really! They're called pups. You'll see them form around the base of the mother plant, and when they grow to about the same size as your original air plant, you can pull them off and put them in their own container (or however you like to display your air plants).

Speaking of containers, one of the coolest things about air plants—and something you probably already know—is just how versatile they are in how they can be displayed. You can hang them, put them in a terrarium, mount them on a stand, or even turn them into magnets—whatever suits your style. If you're ready to become an air plant parent, check out these cool air plant ideas:



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