Tillandsia, otherwise known as Air Plants, is the largest genus in the bromeliad family. There are more than 600 known species. They can be found in the wild in Central and South America and even a small part of the Southern US.
Trichomes are the raised hair or scale-like structures all air plants have that cover the surfaces of their leaves to be able to extract the moisture and nutrients that come their way. Trichomes are not exclusive to air plants but are essential for them. The more fluffy and gray a tillandsia looks, generally the more sun and heat it can take. (This is true of other plants with gray, fuzzy leaves as well.)
Air plants should be kept where they’ll receive bright, filtered or indirect sunlight or under fluorescent home/office lighting. Avoid direct sun for more than a few hours a day. With that in mind, they do require bright light for most of the day to thrive.
Air plants can survive for long periods of drought but they will not thrive and will eventually die off if water is too scarce. The air plants in this video soak for around 2 hours 1 time per week. The humidity around them is around 50% year round indoors. After watering, gently shake the plants to remove any excess water from the base and the leaves, and set out to dry in an area with enough air circulation to dry them out in about 4 hours. If your plants need an in-between watering, misting them with a spray bottle is a great method. Take care when watering them when in bloom and do not get the delicate flowers wet.
Air plants will do best in generally warm conditions (a good range is 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Tillandsias prefer temperatures in the range of 50-60 degrees F at night rising to 80-90 degrees during the day. When growing indoors low humidity can be a problem so try to keep the humidity up around them. Keep your air plants away from heating vents and fires. Overall, they prefer humidity in the 50-70% range. Also, it depends on where you’re located and what time of year.
It is normal for some of the lower leaves of your tillandsias to dry out as the plant grows or acclimates to a new environment. Dried up leaves can be gently pulled right off of the plant. If the leaf tips have dried out, you can snip the dried tip off (try trimming at an angle to leave a natural-looking pointy tip), and the same can be done for the plant’s roots.
Tillandsias are tropical plants that usually live for several years and will bloom and produce flowers only one time during their lifetime. Different species bloom at different times, also depending on their care and environment.
During or after blooming they’ll produce offshoots known as pups. You’ll notice the pups have a separate and distinct center of their own, distinguishing them from the other leaves. Once the pup reaches at least one-third the size of the parent plant, the pup can be removed by gently pulling it apart from the parent. Hold both the parent and the pup at their bases and gently twist in a downward motion. Each pup will follow the life cycle by growing into a parent plant, blooming and producing pups of it’s own.