As part of the bromeliad family, air plants are not only unique but also extremely easy to grow. One of the most common questions we get here at Air Plant Central is, “How fast do air plants grow?”
Most air plants will generally double in size every one to two years. However, some air plants can grow much faster than that.
Here are a few factors that will affect the growth rate of your air plants:
Different Species of Air Plants Grow at Different Rates
Like with any other plant, different species of air plants will grow at different rates. If you’re looking for a fast-growing air plant, look for one of the larger species, such as Tillandsia cyanea or Tillandsia xerographica.
Where an air plant is in its life cycle will also affect its growth rate. For example, newly germinated air plants will often grow much faster than mature air plants.
Whereas an air plant in the middle of the blooming cycle is all but finished growing and will die after blooming.
Several factors can affect the growth rate of air plants which include the following:
Naturally found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, air plants need bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. Overexposure will dry out the leaves and slow down the plant’s growth. The same works for underexposure, where the plant will become etiolated (leggy) in search of light. If it can’t get to a light source, it will eventually slow down in growth due to a lack of nutrients and die.
The water source you use and how often you water your air plants can also affect their growth. For example, using hard water (water that contains high levels of minerals) that aren’t natural for air plants may inhibit growth or even kill the plant.
If you want your air plant to thrive, use nutrient-rich water such as rainwater or pond water.
Lastly, all air plants have different watering needs. Some air plants only require a misting, whereas others need a dunking in water. It’s important to know the watering needs of your specific air plant and to stick to a regular watering schedule.
As mentioned previously, most air plants come from tropical rainforests where humidity levels are high. However, in our homes, the humidity is often much lower, which can cause the leaves of air plants to dry out and become crispy.
If you live in a dry climate or your home has low humidity, you may need to mist your air plants more often or even set them on a humidity tray to mimic their natural habitat.
However, if your air plant is dense with trichomes (tiny hair-like structures), it can tolerate lower humidity levels.
Like all plants, air plants need nutrients to grow. The best way to provide these nutrients is by using an air plant fertilizer.
Skip the Miracle-Gro and go for a fertilizer specifically made for air plants. Select companies will make Tillandsia Plant Food that contains all the essential nutrients air plants need to grow.
Aside from being native to tropical regions, air plants are often found atop trees. As a result, they are used to getting plenty of air circulation.
While this may be impossible to replicate in your home, it’s important not to place your air plants in a windowless room or any other location where they won’t get enough air.
Doing so can stunt the growth of your air plants or even kill them.
Lastly, the temperature can also affect the growth of air plants. Most air plants do best in temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature gets too hot or too cold, it can cause stress to the air plant, which will inhibit growth.
When placed in a spot that is too cold, air plants will often go into dormancy, where they will stop growing until the temperature rises again. While there are a few species of air plants that can tolerate colder temperatures, it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep all air plants in a warm spot.
Causes of Slow Growth Rate
There are a few other reasons why your air plant’s growth rate may be slow, which include the following:
If an air plant is getting too much water, it will rot. The first sign of this is usually when the leaves turn yellow, brown, or mushy. If you see this happening, stop watering your air plant and allow it to dry out completely. Once it’s dry, you can start watering it again, but stick to a regular watering schedule.
Infestation of Pests
Pests such as mealybugs, scale insects, and thrips can all infest air plants and cause them stress or eat up the vital nutrients they need to grow. If you see any pests on your air plant, isolate the plant (so it doesn’t spread to your other plants) and treat it with an insecticide.
While the office can be a great place to grow air plants, the lighting can inhibit growth. Unless your office has full-spectrum lighting, the lights may not be adequate for air plants to photosynthesize and grow. If you want your air plant to thrive, try placing it near a window or supplement it with a grow light.
Can you make air plants grow faster?
There is no surefire way to make air plants grow faster. However, by providing them with the proper care and conditions, you can give them the best chance to grow and thrive.
How long does it take an air plant to grow pups?
Pups, or offsets, typically grow after the air plant bloomed. It can take a few weeks to a few months for the pups to grow large enough to be separated from the mother plant.
How big will an air plant get?
The size of an air plant will depend on the species. Some air plants can grow as big as a foot long while others stay relatively small.
What is the biggest air plant?
The biggest air plant is the Tillandsia usneoides, commonly known as Spanish moss. This air plant can grow up to three feet long!
Samantha Taylor is the Senior Editor of airplantcentral.com. Her love for plants goes back to her childhood when she spent hours in the garden with her dear grandfather. As an aspiring botanist, she started her own business specializing in air plants.