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Indoor Air Plant Care: Your Complete Guide

If you’re just beginning your Air Plant journey, you’re in for a treat! They are simple to keep alive and add a splash of life and color to your home, boat, recreational vehicle or patio. Today we’re going to focus on raising healthy and healthy Indoor Air Plants.

In this guide, you’ll discover what to do from the beginning of your Air Plant Adventure to well beyond your plant blossoming before your eyes! Gathered here in this article you’ll find complete information and be inspired by the creative ideas I’ll share with you.

As a bonus that goes beyond basic care and decor, I’m including the 10 Most Frequently asked questions about Indoor Air Plants…and their Answers! You just might see your own question(s) answered there. 

I can’t wait to begin! How about you? It’s wonderful how much Air Plants are growing in popularity as more people like you are discovering their unique beauty and useful benefits! We’re going to take a look at the following essential topics today:

  • What Indoor Air Plants Need to Grow
  • Where to Display Indoor Air Plants
  • How to Care for Indoor Air Plants
  • How To Water Indoor Air Plants
  • Indoor Air Plants and Temperature
  • Benefits of Indoor Air Plants

Followed by:

  • Air Plant Central’s Answers to the Top 10 Questions Regarding Indoor Air Plants

Dump that soil in the yard, you won’t be needing it to grow Air Plants! So let’s dig in. OOPS, we won’t be digging, either! Rather, we’re going to get growing in a brand new way!


Your Guide to What Indoor Air Plants Need to Grow

  • Sunlight: For Air Plants to grow into maturity in a healthy way that will promote blossoming, they will require 8-12 hours of bright light that is indirect. For your indoor Air Plants, this means discovering which rooms offer this natural lighting option or providing artificial light that will promote plant growth.

In my own home, any room facing east offers the best day-long lighting. Simple observation will reveal in which rooms your Air plants will best grow, And a little trial and error is always part of learning our plant’s “personal preferences”!

  • Water: Air Plants collect ambient moisture for hydration. Although there is some indoors, it will not be enough to adequately satisfy their thirst. You’re going to have to water your indoor Air Plants.

The common ways to water Air Plants are by either submerging them in water once every week or so or misting them with a spray bottle every few days. I prefer a combination of the two methods, using quick mistings with a long monthly soak (up to an hour).

Air Plant Rot Causes
Watering by Submersion

Whichever method you prefer, the most important thing about watering Air Plants is to tilt them after watering, allowing any excess water to drip off. If water collects in the center of the plant, it will facilitate rot on the plant, and we don’t want that!

  • Nourishment (Indoor Air Plants Need Fertilizer) Air Plants gather particles of plant decay and insect matter from the air, through specialized hair-like cells called trichomes, to utilize for nutrition.

Since your home is likely not abundant with decaying plants or insects, you’re going to have to feed your Air Plants using a fertilizer formulated specifically for Tillandsia or Bromeliads. Because it may not be readily available in the gardening department of your local market, I’m including a convenient link to the brand I have found effective (and affordable) at the end of this article in the “Air Plant Central Product Picks” section.

Whatever brand fertilizer you end up with, it is IMPERATIVE to follow label directions EXACTLY. The life of your Air Plant depends on it!

  • Protection from Toxins: All living things are subject to certain toxins that can make them sick, or even make them die. Air Plants are no exception! You’ll want to keep your indoor Air Plants away from air fresheners, perfume or cologne spray, furniture polish spray, or anything else that gets sprayed in your home.

If you regularly have your home treated for pests (this is common in the south) this treatment is also toxic to your plants. Zinc and Boron are toxic to Air Plants. They are common ingredients in plant fertilizers, which is why you’ll need the specialty fertilizer I mention just above.

Rust and copper are deadly to Air Plants, as well. Be sure the containers you use for Air Plants, as well as the displays or terrariums, contain no copper components or metals that will rust.

Additionally, keep any smoke away from Air Plants! This includes tobacco products, candles, and incense. If you diffuse essential oils, you’ll want your Airplants away from the mist, as well.

Toxins enter the plant through contact with the leaves AND through the air which the plant “breathes”. Be aware of what’s in both!

Where to Display Indoor Air Plants

How many rooms do you have? They can all benefit from having Air Plants in them! Walk through your home and see where some Air Plants would add a pop of color. Look up, they can be hung! Look level, they go great on a shelf! Look down, Air Plants are perfect for coffee tables… and even a desk!

I’ll describe some popular placement ideas from the Air Plant enthusiasts I know. Plus tell you where my Air Plants are displayed! I’ll include some great picture examples to use for ideas, as well!

Now walk with me through the house in my mind, won’t you (?) and see your own rooms as we go.

(Green) Thumb Reminder: In any of the following rooms, display areas must provide sufficient lighting for your Air Plants to thrive. It’s a snap to provide the required lighting through sunlight or artificial lighting, just keep light in mind as you plan where you’ll display your Air Plant(s).

  • The Foyer: What a statement Air Plants make when guests walk in your front door! Like your home, Air Plants are unique and fascinating. Intricate and sleek. Mysterious and intriguing.

Hang some from the chandelier, set a set on the entry table, hang one on the wall or in the window of the door. 

If there’s a stairway banister in the foyer (or anywhere in the house), get creative and envision how you might get some Air Plants involved there.

  • The Hall: Most halls are on the narrow side in width, making decorating in them somewhat of a challenge. The “minis” of the Air Plant varieties really work well in a hall!

Set them on a narrow table or hang some in simple frames on the wall. Alternatively, hang them with ribbon from a decorative and non-damaging wall mount.

  • Breathe Life into the Living Room With Air Plants: No matter your personal taste, there are ways to add Air Plants to your living room decor! “Dress up” the base of your lamps with Air Plants, add waterless vases that hold an Air Plant to your end tables.

Dress up your fireplace mantle in the months the fireplace isn’t being used. “Frame” an Air Plant to hang on the wall. Add a few to your bookshelf. There are so many living room display options!

Office Air Plants
  • Spice up your Feasts with Air Plants in the Dining Room: Again, Air Plants are as versatile as your creativity! Make a centerpiece. “Dress up” your window. Add Air Plants to your china hutch or your buffet.
Air Plant Centerpiece

I know by now you’re forming some great ideas of your own!

  • Fill the Kitchen with Air Plants: Considered the “hub” of the home, your kitchen is a great room to chuck full of Air Plants. Additionally, kitchens are usually one of the brightest rooms in the home, alive with natural lighting Take advantage of that window and the space around it!

Bring countertops to life by adding simply Air Plants in a simple display, like a wine glass. They can take up as little (or as much) space as you like.

One word of caution for kitchen Air Plants, though. If you’ve got Air Plants displayed in your kitchen, ALWAYS use the exhaust fan above the stove when cooking. Invisible grease particles are released into the air during cooking and can coat the leaves of your Air Plant, interfering with the plant’s ability to absorb nutrition and hydration. This coating may not kill the plant, but has the potential to stunt its growth, and even prevent flowering from occurring!

  • Creating a “Zen Zone” in the Master Bedroom with Air Plants: Dress up the dresser with a collection of Air Plants! Make an Air Plant mobile for hanging in the window.

And please check out the photo below to see how beautiful (and personal) you can make the wall above your bed’s headboard!

  • Include the Family: Air Plants in Your Child’s Room or Nursery: Get your child involved in growing Air Plants! Teaching children to nurture living things through responsibility and gentle care is an excellent trait to instill in your child.

Air plants aren’t messy, so there’ll be no spilled soil. Air Plants are forgiving and generally self-sufficient if a watering day is missed. And they’re just darn fun for your child to display!

Make it a fun project for you to do together, and let your child exercise their imagination with display ideas. They might even pull a clever idea from the toy box!

Clean the air in the room your child sleeps with Air Plants! What a bonus!

  • Budget Decor (that doesn’t look like it) Using Air Plants in the Guest Room: It seems as though the only Air Plants I have found to be expensive are the ones sold already in a display. My local market offered a beauty, simply hung from a metal ring, but it cost almost twenty dollars! 
Expensive Market Offering

That, my friends, is NOT a budget Air Plant. I knew I could find the exact plant online sans the display “ring” for a fraction of the price! To make your guest room feel exotic and inviting on a budget, drop some Air Plants in ornate containers on the dresser.

Incorporate Air Plants into a seashell collection on the side table. Utilize a knickknack your Auntie passed on to you years ago. Air Plant decor needn’t be expensive!

I enjoy shopping at thrift stores and stopping by yard sales. I look at every item offered with my Air Plants in mind, and have found some of the cutest ideas…for five dollars or less!

  • What could be Better than Cleaner Air in the Bathroom Through Air Plants?!? Studies have shown that Air Plants clean the air in their environment better than any other plant of comparable size! This alone makes them wonderful candidates for bathroom displays.

Generally, bathrooms are one of two things. Brightly lit with windows, or windowless. In either circumstance, you can utilize unique and air-cleaning Air Plants! Splash color around your bathroom in whatever way strikes your imagination!

PLEASE NOTE: If your bathroom is windowless, you’ll learn about artificial lighting for your Air Plants further along in this article.

No one needs to know how simple it is to maintain the exotic beauties. I won’t tell if you don’t! Haha, I am kidding of course! I’m gonna tell you EVERYTHING, and anyone else who wants to know!  

Quick (and savable) Guide for Indoor Air Plant Care

A Word About Indoor Air Plant Blossoms and Pups

A healthy Air Plant will reach maturity as it nears its second year of life. This will bring on the reproductive cycle. During this time, the leaves may begin to change color (called blushing) and buds will appear that will produce blooms of varying shapes and vibrant colors!

The blossoms will last from a week to a year, depending on the Air Plant variety, and then will turn to seed and fall off. The important thing for you to know about blossoms is to keep them dry during watering sessions. Neither mist nor submerge the flowers. You want them to last as long as possible!

At the same time as blossoming begins, your Air Plant may produce baby Air plants, called pups. These pups will likely form near the bottom of the plant and might be hiding behind a browning leaf. Take caution when snipping any browning leaves off for this reason. A pup can be snipped or pinched off when it reaches about a third of the parent plant’s size.

Alternatively, the pups can be left attached, and what is known as an Air Plant Cluster (or Clump) will form. Whichever method you prefer is fine!

Additionally, pups will form from a dropped seed if they land on something other than the floor to be swept up and thrown away. The growth process of these pups is exceedingly slow, but oh, so fun to witness!

Whew! We sure have covered a lot of essential material today, haven’t we? But we’re not done! Chances are, everything you’ve read so far has left you with some questions of your own. Next, we’ll take a look at the answers to the Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions that Air Plant Central receives. I hope you’ll find the answers to YOUR questions among them!

Without question, the number ONE question received at Air Plant Central is…

How the Heck do Air Plants Grow Without Soil?!?

We’ve gone over how to take care of our indoor Air Plants, now let’s talk about how that care makes our Plants as healthy and luscious as possible! I mentioned the trichomes that cover an Air Plant’s surface. Because they appear “hair-like” many people assume they are actually a fungus of some sort. I assure you they are not!

Rather, the trichomes are “grabbers” extracting particles from the air to utilize as nutrition. Unlike soil-dependant plants, the roots on Air Plants are for support alone, and not for absorbing nutrition or water. If you ever get to see Air Plants in their natural habitat you’d notice they are clinging to a tree, bush, or any other structure by their roots.

The pores on Air Plants, called stoma, remain closed during the day time for water conservation. At night, the stoma open, and through photosynthesis, release oxygen into the atmosphere.

Air Plant Pores
Magnified Stoma

And here are the answers to the other 9 questions, in no particular order…

Does the Kind of Water I use Matter?

It ABSOLUTELY matters! All aspects of Air Plant care should be given serious consideration. All Air Plants will bloom, but ONLY if they achieve optimum health. Understanding this, we should pay close attention to every aspect of their care.

The healthiest water for Air Plants is hands down, rainwater. It has elements and minerals in it designed to promote plant growth. If rainwater isn’t an option for you, bottled spring water is next in line for optimum health. Tap water isn’t ideal because of elements added to it, like Chlorine or Flouride.

You may have access to well-water but use caution. Chances are, that well-water runs through a filtration (or softening) system with elements that can be detrimental to healthy plant growth. I also do NOT recommend bottled distilled or purified water because they have had elements REMOVED from them!

To recap, use rainwater or spring water to have the healthiest indoor Air Plants possible.

Do Air Plants Grow Under Fluorescent Lights?

Fluorescent lighting is certainly a better option for most plants than incandescent lighting. It’s brighter, produces less heat, and is more easily utilized by plants. However, if you want those Air Plants to produce blossoms and pups, fluorescent lighting will fall short.

Instead, for the areas of your home where you want to add Air Plants, but the lighting is inadequate, I recommend you purchase a grow light, specifically designed to promote plant growth.

This can be a simple bulb that fits into an existing fixture or lamp, or it can be as elaborate as a whole plant-lighting system. The choice is yours!  

At the end of this article, you’ll find convenient links to lighting options in the “Air Plant Central Product Picks” section. All product links will take you to Amazon, where I have done the research to collect the best-selling and most economical options to chose from, as well as the products I use myself here at Air Plant Central.

What are the Benefits of Indoor Air Plants?

The obvious benefits of indoor Air Plants are glaringly apparent. There’s no dirty dirt to contend with, and Air Plants are exotic, unique and lovely! We’ve already touched upon the fact that Air Plant clean the air in their environment better than any other plant the same size.

Beyond all those benefits, Air Plants are easy to care for, forgiving in their care routine, easily portable and a cinch to display.

But wait… There’s more! (LOL!) Both gazing at your Air plants and tending to them reduces stress. This isn’t a theory, but a scientifically proven fact.

Air plants are also fun and easy for children to grow, a benefit for sure!

Can Air Plants Live in the Office?

Without a doubt, Air plants are an excellent option for your home office, as well as for your office away from home! As long as you follow the care guidelines you are learning today, which include sufficient lighting, adequate nutrition and hydration, and protection from toxins, Air Plants will thrive in your office(s)! Just be sure to receive company permission to have Air plants in your office away from home.

What Kinds of Air Plants Grow Best Indoors?

Air plants are available in over 400 varieties, as well as having hybrid options to chose from! Quite honestly though, no one variety will do better indoors than outdoors. In fact, in many cases, it is near impossible (without genetic testing) to tell some varieties apart! And so, although I can’t recommend a “better” variety to display in your home, I can share some of the most popular indoor varieties. Let’s have a look…

5 Common Air Plants to Display Indoors

  1. Xerographica: A “crowning” piece to any Air Plant collection, the Xerographica comes straight from Mexican origins to grace your home with elegance!
  2. Caput Medusae: This tall and slender Air Plant variety is a conversation starter, for sure! Exotic and unique, your guests will think you put hours into its care, instead of minutes. 
  3. Tillandsia Butzii: This variety of Air Plant has a small “bulb” at the base and will have leaves that grow from 2-10 inches (5-25 cm) long. This variance makes them adaptable for small or larger displays.
  4. Tillandsia Filifolia: This Air plant variety will grow both taller and wider than many of the small Air Plants. They do well in a terrarium, providing proper ventilation prevents the build-up of too much moisture. 
  5. Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra: Graceful and sleek, the “Ion” Rubra will produce symmetrical rosettes and has leaves that will “blush” in shades of pink and produce purple blossoms.

Are Indoor Air Plants Toxic to Pets or Children?

You’ll be relieved to learn that NO variety of Air Plants is toxic to pets or children! They are completely safe to display in your home. If your home contains pets or children, the bigger challenge will be keeping your Air Plant safe from THEM! Continue reading to find out how I know…

How Can I Protect Indoor Air Plants from Pets

(or Kids)?

My home contains a 120+ pound Rottweiler named Maximus. Good ole Max doesn’t give my Air plants a second glance! However, my 3-pound kitten, Oreo, has taken a keen interest in my Air plants! I could have cried when I saw what he did to my Caput Medusae when I got home from work yesterday! I think my poor plant is beyond rescue. Because of this, I shuffled around my other Air Plants to keep them out of Oreo’s reach during his “Paws off the Plants!” training.

Keep your children and pets in mind when choosing locations to display your indoor Air Plants, for the sake of the plant! With nibblers in your home, high shelves, hanging plants from the ceiling, and wall displays are great choices to keep your Air Plants safe.

Why are the Tips of my Air Plant Turning Brown?

The most common causes of tips browning on an Air Plant are too little light, too little water, or the tips are touching something irritating to them. Snip the tips with sharp scissors and adjust any (or all) of those three things.

My Air Plant Looks Like it’s Dying… What Should I do?

If your Air plant looks all over “droopy” or listless, it is likely “asking for” more light, water or food. Increase each or any of the three one at a time to see which perks the plant up. The job may require increases in all three things. Be patient, you will soon learn how to keep those Air plants at their peak Health!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: When it comes to Air Plant health, I don’t skimp! Only healthy and vibrant Air plants will go on to blossom in their due season and produce pups to carry the species into the future. For this reason, I’ve written a comprehensive and extensive article on the Air Plant that looks like it’s dying. You’ll learn the causes and cures to what may be ailing your Air Plant right on the other end of this link!

Truly I hope this complete guide for indoor Air Plant Care has armed you with all the information you need to grow healthy Air Plants that will blossom and reproduce! Stop by Air Plant Central again soon, as we will be featuring extensive home and patio decor ideas for you in upcoming articles. Until then, keep growing!