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Air plants: types, names and care

Air plants: types, names and care

Air plants or tillandsias are one of the most curious types of plants, and every day they are more used in gardening and decoration thanks to the fact that, despite the fact that many of them are not demanding at all in their care, they tend to have very striking shapes and aesthetic. At EcologíaVerde we recommend that, if you want to acquire one for your home or to give as a gift, go to the tillandsias shop in Spain and that you continue reading this article in which we are going to try to learn a little more about the types, names and care of air plants or tillandsias.

To begin with, an air plant is a type of plant whose roots are exposed and not buried in the ground, so they germinate wherever the seed falls, regardless of whether it is on the surface of a rock or the bark of a tree. There, they anchor themselves with their small roots and live off the ambient humidity and the nutrients they collect from the air through their leaves. Keep reading to discover much more!

types of air plants

There are several types of air plants depending on the surfaces they tend to anchor to or the color of their leaves.

epiphytic air plants

These types of air plants tend to grow on the surface of other trees and plants or at least using your support. Since aerial plants are not parasitic, it is not usual for them to cause any damage to the health of the plant that supports them.

In this other EcologíaVerde article we talk in detail about epiphytic plants: what they are, types and examples.

lithophytic air plants

Lithophytic air plants differ from epiphytes in that, instead of rooting on other special larger plants, they tend to do so on rocks, stones or walls of some kind. These plants can absorb nutrients and substances from the support to which they have been attached.

green air plants

These are, as their name indicates, those that have the green leaves. They are characterized by not having trichomes, which are a kind of tiny short-lived hairs that help the plant to absorb moisture from the air, so they require more favorable and humid climates.

gray air plants

Gray air plants do possess trichomeswho are the ones who give the gray coloring to its leaves and stems. Thanks to them, they are more resistant species that can obtain water and nutrients from the air, being able to adapt to a broader spectrum of climates and conditions.

Air plants: types, names and care - Types of air plants

Air Plant Names

There are a large number of plants of this type. This is one list of air plantsbut they are only some of them:

  • Tillandsia usneoides or Spanish moss
  • Tillandsia ionantha or sky plant
  • Tillandsia gardneri
  • Tillandsia fuchsii v. gracilis
  • Tillandsia Andreana
  • Tillandsia caput-medusae or Medusa Head
  • Tillandsia didisticha
  • Tillandsia capitata peach
  • Tillandsia cotton candy or Tillandsia houston
  • maximum tillandsia
  • bulbous tillandsia
  • Tillandsia cyanea or pink feather
  • Tillandsia carnation of the air
Air Plants: Types, Names and Care - Air Plant Names

Air Plant Care

This is one practical guide to caring for air plants:

light for air plants

Like all plants, air plants need a good light source. However, many of them do not tolerate the direct incidence of sunlight, so it is recommended to have them in a lighted semi-shade area. Outdoors, make sure they are protected from the hours when the sun is harshest, and indoors, put them near a window, but in such a way that the sun does not fall on them.


When it comes to watering, most of them will appreciate being sprayed once or twice a week. This may be enough for gray-leaved species, but green-leaved species will need higher incidence watering to hydrate properly.

Also, if the plant is close to a heat source or air conditioners, it will dehydrate much faster and will need more frequent watering.

Air Plant Nutrition

Since these plants do not have roots to sink into the ground to obtain their nutrients, many of these have to reach them through the air. This requires the plant to be in a location with good circulation of clean air. This last detail is very important, because if the air that reaches the plant is contaminated from any source, it is very likely that it will end up making you sick.


The usual range of suitable temperatures for these plants goes from 10ºC to 32ºC, but in any case, it is better that you find out what temperature your specific species requires.

Leaf and root care

In addition, these plants will appreciate that you carefully remove the dry leaves that accumulate naturally, as well as that you fertilize them once a month during the growing season, although with half the recommended dose.

Finally, if you see that its roots are growing too much, you can cut them without problems, since they only have the function of fixing the plant to its support surface.

To expand this information a little more, we recommend this other post on Air carnation care.

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