Tillandsias or Air-plants, are epiphyte plants, much like orchids or moss, that live on other plants or surfaces without being parasitic. Their limited root systems are used to anchor themselves to surfaces and require no soil as water and nutrients are absorbed through the trichomes on their leaves. This makes them great house plants that can be displayed in exciting ways. Tillandsias bloom once in their lifetime and will produce 2-12 "pups" or offspring.
There are two types of tillandsias, xeric and mesic, which require different care protocol. Read on to identify your plant and its proper care instructions!
Xeric tillandsias live in hot, dry climates like the desert and have larger and denser trichomes on their leaves to soak up limited water. They are easily identified by their fuzzy texture, giving them a silvery appearance. This "fuzz" helps reflect sunlight, protecting them from harsh desert conditions.
Xeric watering - Requires infrequent watering. All tillandsias are different, but in general remove plant from container and completely submerge plant in a bowl of water once every 2 weeks for 1-2 hours and mist occasionally. Be sure to shake off any excess water before placing back in container to prevent rotting. If your plant shows signs of drying out by becoming tighter, submerge or mist.
Xeric lighting - Needs larger amounts of light. Place in direct sun or in a bright, south facing window.
Mesic tillandsias are found in more humid habitats, such as tropical forests. Their leaves have a smooth texture, are usually greener than xeric types and grow much faster than xeric types.
Mesic watering - Requires more water. All tillandsias are different, but in general remove plant from container and completely submerge plant in a bowl of water once every week for 1-2 hours and mist occasionally. Be sure to shake off any excess water before placing back into container to prevent rotting.
Mesic lighting - Afternoon direct sunlight can burn and damage leaves. Place in bright, indirect light such as an east facing window.