Airing it Out

Tue., Jan. 11, 2022

By Rob Dzurec, Horticulturist

Tillandsias are one of the great low maintenance house plants.  Also known as air plants, these plants are native to tropical areas of the Americas. They are epiphytic plants which means they grow on other plants, usually trees. The roots they do have are used to hold themselves onto other plants or structures.  The water and nutrients they need are absorbed by the leaves. 

While they are low maintenance, they do require some specific care.

Watering – Tillandsia leaves are specialized for collecting water. Depending on humidity levels, they should be spritzed with water several times a week.  Additionally, they should be given a water bath every 1-2 weeks.  Fill a container big enough to submerge the plant with tap water.  Allow the water to sit for several hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate from it.  Soak the entire plant for about 30 minutes.  Remove the plant and place it upside down to allow excess water to drain off.  It can then be returned to its normal display.

Light – Plants should be near bright light but not in direct sunshine as it will dry out or even scorch leaves. 

Fertilizing – not strictly necessary but will help overall health of plants and promote blooming. Dilute general-purpose, water-soluble plant food to ¼ strength and spritz on plants once a month. 

Display – Since they don’t require a pot or soil, air plants can be in placed all kinds of creative ways.  Use florist wire to secure them to anything you would like to give a creative accent to. Terrariums and glass globes are also possibilities.  Just keep in mind the need to remove them for watering.

If you would like more inspiration, come look at some of our tillandsia on display in our Costa Rica Biome.

Rob Dzurec

Rob Dzurec


Dzurec has been with the Cleveland Botanical Garden since 2013 and oversees various gardens including the Gateway garden, East Boulevard garden and Potager garden. Dzurec earned his BS from Miami University and an associate degree in Horticulture from Kent State University.


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