Air Plants leave us with a feeling of amazement when we see them thriving on little more than sunlight and air, don’t they? They leave us with compelling questions like, “How long does it take for an Air Plant to grow and bloom?” Before I purchased my first Air Plants, I asked the same question!
I wanted to learn more so that I could care for my Air Plants in the best way possible to promote beautiful blooms. And so I got down to some serious research! In this article, I will share everything I discovered from the experts, as well as the things I am learning through experience.
A little bit of trial and error will always be involved in growing Air Plants, but there is some solid “textbook” knowledge we can apply, as well. So, just how long DOES it take for Air Plants to grow and bloom? The quick answer is, Air Plants are slow to grow, and will only blossom once in their life-span! This can take between a year and two years.
Today we’ll take a closer look at Air Plant growth and blossoming. We’ll discover…
- Where baby Air Plants come from
- How to propagate YOUR Air Plants
- The average growth rate of Air Plants
- When Air Plants will Bloom
- The variety of Air Plants blossoms
With over 450 varieties of Tillandsia alone and countless hybrids, you’d be hard-pressed to find two that are identical growing wild a mile apart from one another in their natural environment. Each plant variety is unique, but there are enough similarities that we can draw some conclusions. Let’s get started!
Where do Baby Air Plants Come From?
Air Plants propagate in one of two ways in nature. The first way is through seeds. The Mother Plant’s blossoms will turn to seed. These seeds are spread on the wind or are transported in the droppings from animals that eat them. The tiny plants will then attach themselves to something sturdy for support and begin their own life.
The second way Air Plants propagate in nature is by the Mother Plant having “pups”. These pups are off-shoots from the Mother Plant that grow on a long, spindly stem. If left unattended, the stem will stay connected to the Mother Plant, but the pups can live independently if the stem should be severed.
By now I’m certain you are wondering…
Can I Grow Baby Air Plants?
You ABSOLUTELY CAN grow baby Air Plants! Just don’t expect it to be a speedy process! There are 2 Ways to Propagate Air Plants:
- From Seeds- Babies started from seed will take 2-4 years to grow to a suitable size for display.
- From Pups- Simply snip the pup from the off-shoot stem with a sharp blade. Trim off any brown leaves, give the pup a good submersion in water (about an hour) and place it in the spot you’ll want it to grow.
Will Air Plants Grow Bigger…How Big?
The answer to “How big will my Air Plant Grow?” is “It depends on the Air Plant!” Some will never grow taller than two or three inches, and some can grow to a whopping two to three feet! The most common and bestselling Air Plants on Amazon are generally small and will likely stay small, with growth too slow to even measure! You can grab the same assortment I started my collection with by following this link to Amazon.
The most noticeable growth will come in the form of the Mother Plant producing pups. These pups can be separated from the Mother Plant or left to grow right where they are.
If you’re looking to have larger Air Plants, buy a variety like the Xerographica, sometimes called the “Queen of Air Plants”. Even though the growth rate is still slow, you will see a (very) gradual doubling in size over about two years. The best way to measure growth and progress is to snap a picture of your Air Plant monthly. What you don’t notice in the daily growth will be more noticeable in monthly intervals.
When is an Air Plant Fully Mature?
Air Plants are considered fully mature at the first signs of blossoms or pups. This is the onset of their reproductive cycle. How long this will take is dependant upon the care given the plant. Maturity can be achieved in as little as a season, or take as long as two years!
There are 5 ways to promote maturity in your Air Plant(s):
- Adequate Lighting- Air Plants require bright, but indirect lighting. Too much or too little sunlight can be detrimental to the growth of the plant. If your indoor Air Plants don’t seem to be flourishing, utilizing a grow light bulb will certainly be beneficial! You can grab a grow light bulb that will fit in a standard lamp fixture by following this link to Amazon.
- Proper Hydration- Ideally, Air Plants should be occasionally submerged in water occasionally, but a spray mister bottle comes in handy between submersions. As you get familiar with your plant, it will be easy to determine when watering is necessary. Outdoor Air Pants will only need to be watered when the air has been dry and without rainfall. Higher temps may find your plants thirstier, as well. Indoor plants should be submerged weekly for about an hour and misted in between as needed.
IMPORTANT TIP: Be sure Air Plant has no standing water in the center after watering, this can cause the plant to rot. Always tip and drip!
- Sufficient Nutrition- Outdoor Air Plants collect their nutrients from mid-air, and rarely will need to be fertilized (unless you want to supplement them). Since indoor Air Plants don’t receive the same nutrients from the air, they will need to be fertilized. Make sure you ONLY use fertilizer for Tillandsia or Bromeliads. You can grab your fertilizer from Amazon right here.
- Protection from Toxins- Regular plant fertilizer may contain Zinc or Boron which are both fatal to the plant. Additionally, make sure your Air Plant containers or terrarium do not contain copper or a material that can rust, for both of these elements are toxic for Air Plants. Air fresheners can be toxic, as well as perfumes, colognes, household cleaners, and chemicals. Exhaust from vehicles can also kill your plants. Be aware of both; what will touch your Air Plant, and what your Air plant will be “breathing”.
- Protection from the Extreme Temperatures- Air Plants will flourish at between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (10-32 Celsius) When temperatures fall above or below the safe range, your Air Plant’s survival will depend on your care and protection!
How Long Does it Take an Air plant to Blossom?
If blossoms are your thing, Air Plants will not disappoint! Because it’s next to impossible to know the exact age of your Air Plant (unless you propagated it yourself) it is safe to say you will likely see blossoming occur within the first year of owning your plant, if not sooner! Don’t be discouraged if you don’t though! It may take two years… or longer! There is a wide swath for “normal” in an Air Plant’s life cycle. The same factors apply that I listed under “Promoting Maturity in Air Plants” found above.
Depending on the variety of Air Plant you own, blossoms will last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. There are even some varieties, like the Caput Medusae that have bloom tracts called inflorescence that can produce blooms for up to a year!
Do Air Plants Die After They Blossom?
Blossoming is a sure sign that the Mother plant is nearing the end of its life span. This needn’t cause us sadness, though, because blossoming is also the beginning of the plant’s reproduction process. That blossom means you can expect brand new pups to begin forming at the plant base or from off-shoot stems. The blossom will also turn to seeds that will be scattered for even more Air Plants to grow!
Your Air Plant will blossom only once in its life cycle, but you can easily expect to have 3-4 brand new Air Plants that will eventually also blossom. But don’t give up on the parent plant just yet! It can live for years after blooming. The circle of life continues!
What Colors Are Air Plant Blossoms?
Depending on the variety of Air Plant you own, blossoms come in a plethora of beautiful colors, and in a wide wage of the specific color. For instance, a pink blossom can range anywhere from a pale pink to a deep and vibrant pink! Blossoms can be purple, red, or even yellow.
Have fun with Air Plant blossoms by selecting more than one variety and size of plants to add to your collection!
We discovered a lot together today, didn’t we? I hope this article has left you confident about promoting blooms on your Air Plants and has helped you set your expectations concerning the size your Air Plants will grow. The more we know, the better they’ll grow!
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.