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Airplants: What are they, and how do they grow?

By :Jay Nguyen 0 comments
Airplants: What are they, and how do they grow?

Do you think all plants need soil to grow? If yes, you may want to learn about air plants.

Air plants don’t require soil to grow. Epiphytes air plants grow on top of other plants (typically trees), whereas Lithophytes air plants grow on rock, sand, and roofs. They come in different types, shapes, sizes, and colors and grow by absorbing moisture from the air or water droplets around them. 

As long as their roots remain moist, air plants can thrive for years to come! So if you're looking for an easygoing plant to brighten up your home, air plants may be just what you need. 

Follow this guide below for more information on how these unique tiny plants grow!

How do airplants grow?


Air plants grow by absorbing water and nutrients from the air through tiny scales on their leaves, called trichomes. 

Unlike most plants, air plants don’t suck up the nutrients through their roots. Instead, they use trichomes to absorb water and nutrients. You can think of them as tiny sponges that replicate the function of roots.

Can Air Plants Grow Without Water?

Air plants require a sufficient amount of water for their proper growth. 

They get their nutrients from the surrounding air and therefore only need misting and an occasional soak in water for about ten minutes every two weeks. During winters, it’s more than enough to soak your air plants once a month. However, if your environment is too dry, they will likely get dehydrated and die or have stunted growth due to limited moisture from dry air. To avoid this, you should submerge your air plants in water for 2-3 hours once every two weeks. 

After that, expose your air plants to light and air circulation after 4 hours of watering so that they can dry out completely. You can also keep them upside down to ensure there is no standing water in their interiors. Your air plants’ leaves will start to curve unnaturally and feel dry to touch if they are water-deprived.

Can Air Plants Grow in Soil?

Air plants don’t grow in soil. They only attach themselves to various surfaces like bushes, leaves, trees, rocks, and shrubs. Air plants are super versatile as they are soil-free - You can put them anywhere with proper indirect sunlight and airflow.

Can Air Plants Grow in Sand?

Although air plants don’t grow in sand, you can still add it as a decorative base in open glass jars, pots, and flower vases. Just make sure you don’t place your air plants in an enclosed terrarium as it restricts air circulation.

Can Air Plants Grow Indoors?

As long as your air plants get enough sunlight and water, they will grow well indoors. Many people have a misconception that air plants can only grow outdoors. You can place the air plants in a room with multiple windows facing south, east, or west for indirect sunlight exposure. 

Air plants also do best in sunny bathrooms to get sufficient light and adequate humidity from daily showers.

Can Air Plants Grow Upside Down?

Bulbous tillandsias and Spanish moss - two of the most popular air plant species - can grow upside down on tree branches or rocks. These bulbous bases act as water reservoirs that keep the plant moist, so it doesn't dry out, even if it hangs from its roots! 

Additionally, the upside-down position can help remove any excess water and allow them to dry faster. Air plants without long stems can’t grow upside down, though. If they have long leaves with less hair and flat rosettes, they grow better the usual way. 

Can Air Plants Grow in Low Light?

Dimly lit areas won’t nurture your air plants as they need about 5-6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day to thrive indoors. However, if they are well hydrated, you can keep them in direct sun during winters for more prolonged exposure, preferably from October through March. 

Your air plants can dry out pretty quickly if they are exposed to too much light. 

Can Air Plants Grow in Artificial Light?

Although natural light is better for air plants, they can also grow under fluorescent light. Air plants should be at least 6-35 inches from the fluorescent tubes, and you MUST not give your air plants more than 12 hours of fluorescent light per day. It’s better to set an automatic timer to prevent the air plants from soaking excessive light.  

Are Air Plants Fast Growers?

Air plants are not fast growers when compared to other plants. If you grow them from seeds, they will take around 1-2 months to germinate. Moreover, It will take 4-8 years for the air plant to become a mature plant. 

While most air plants are tiny, the heights usually range from 2" to 12". However, the growth also depends on the type of air plant you have. Air plants or Tillandsias are often categorized as either Xeric or Mesic.  

Xeric Tillandsias vs. Mesic Tillandsias

The Mesic Tillandsias grow faster and have more color in their leaves, while the Xeric Tillandsias take much longer to grow and have duller shades of green or brown. Since Xeric plants grow in dry, arid climates, they have larger and denser trichomes to take in more water. Xeric Tillandsias grow slower than Mesic ones because they spend more energy keeping their cells hydrated and less energy growing new leaves, which helps them survive in dry environments. 

On the other hand, Mesic air plants thrive in humid areas with their less prominent trichomes. As a result, they don’t have to survive the harsh hot climate and therefore grow faster.

Are Air Plants Easy to Grow?

Air plants are fascinating, low-maintenance, and very easy to grow. They require little more than a space with indirect light, water every week, and proper air ventilation for drying out. 

These guys are tough as nails and will happily thrive in any environment - even the tiniest nook of your home! Be sure to use air plant fertilizer once or twice a month. It helps with blooming and reproduction, so your plants can stay healthy and fresh!


Air plants are an excellent way to add life and beauty to your space without the need for soil or a pot.

A little water now and then, along with some indirect light from the sun every day, will keep your air plants happy for years!

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