You probably remember these interesting plants from your gran’s garden in the 80’s? They hang from a tree branch and survive on very little other than air, and make a pretty show of pinky and purple flowers in the summer. You may have a spray of them in your tree that you have never really taken much notice of before, put there by a previous owner many years ago. Well they are cool again and on trend right now! Let’s see what all the fuss is about and how to care for them.


Clean lines and shapes and minimalist planting make this a dramatic garden!

Tillandisa varieties from left: harisii, xerographica and juncifolia


What are airplants?

Tillandsia or airplants, are a genus of around 650 species of evergreen, perennial flowering plants in the family Bromeliaceae, native to the forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America, the southern United States and the West Indies. It is a type of plant called an Epiphyte, which means that it does not need soil to grow, but rather absorbs almost everything it needs through its leaves, leaving the root-like parts of these plants for anchoring them into their location, usually in the crack between tree branches, or on a rocky cliff face.

Low maintenance

The fact that these plants can be grown with no soil, and with relatively very little attention, is what has recently made them ultra-cool again. They are virtually bomb-proof little plants, that any gardening novice can successfully grow at home indoors, and outdoors. They literally only need 3 things:

A beautiful roof garden for night-time entertainment is dramatic and low maintenance.

Inside or outside, Tillandsia require good light, but not harsh sunlight


Ideally in a medium to high lit area with some filtered sunlight in the day. Not direct sun as they do scorch especially in hot summer months. A sunny North facing windowsill or in the dappled light of trees is perfect for them.


A regular misting every 2 weeks with a spray bottle of water (or collected rainwater ideally!) is all these tough little plants need. If you are growing them indoors and the air is dry (like in an air-conditioned office or flat), you will need (at minimum) to submerge the plant in water for 2-3 hours about every two weeks. Outdoors you may never need to water Tillandsias hanging in a tree if you live in a temperate climate with some humidity. Indoors, the hotter and drier the air, the more you need to water. If the plant is in a shell or has a husk around the base of the leaves, be sure to empty the water out if it collects in there after watering. Tillandsias will not survive in standing water and can rot and die very quickly if overwatered. Under-watering is evidenced by an exaggeration of the natural concave curve of each leaf. After wetting your plants thoroughly, turn them upside down and gently shake them out.

Edgy rusty steel retaining and hardy succulent planting around a circular lawn

Water bathing every 2-3 weeks is of great benefit to indoor Tillandsias

Air circulation

Following each watering, Tillandsias should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in 4 hours or less. Do not keep plants constantly wet or moist and ensure that if grown in a terrarium that there are air vents for fresh air to come in and hot air to escape.

Optional extra fertilising

They really do thrive even without this, but fertilize by adding a few drops of Bromeliad or Orchid fertilizer to your mister/spray bottle.

How to display airplants

There are huge variety of airplants available at the nursery these days. They are beautiful plants to be really creative with and can be strung, pinned, mounted, clustered, enclosed and grouped for awesome effects. Have a look here on Pinterest at all the amazing ways one can display them in your home or on your desk.

Green walls, glass, steel and architectural styling are elements in the contemporary garden

Some creative Tillandsia displays that are easy and cheap to create yourself

Source credits:


Image credits:

Rodale’s Organic Life

Marley Majcher