Do Air Plants Need Sun?

Last Updated on February 2, 2023 by Derek

Air plants indoors like indirect light
Air Plants can survive a certain amount of direct sun

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Scientifically known by their biological name Tillandsia, air plants can survive literally anywhere without soil. All they need is enough water, enough light and plenty of air.

Can air plants grow without sun?

These plants from the bromeliad family need sun, but not a lot of it: Excess sunlight can cause the leaves to wilt. In the wild, air plants can survive under direct sunlight since they have enough moisture in the air to absorb, as well as rain water.

But in your homes, make sure you place them in the north or south direction, so it gets indirect light. You can also set it down under artificial lights like incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lamps.

Do Air Plants Need Water?

Air plants don’t need much water to thrive.

They have specific kinds of cells, called trichomes, which specialize in absorbing water that gets collected in their leaves. These plants also grow in high humidity areas to collect the extra moisture.

In fact, the excess water might get trapped in the bulbous base of the plant, decaying the plant from the inside. Thus, it’s much better to mist these plants using a spray bottle or dunk them in a water bucket for a while.

This is all it needs to be done to meet their water requirements.

How Long Do Air Plants Live?

There are about 650 different varieties of air plants, found in parts of South America, Central America, southern United States and even the Caribbean. They are perennial, evergreen plants and live up to 2 years in the wild.

Depending on the right amount of care, an air plant can live anywhere between a couple of months to a couple of years in your home.

Do Air Plants Grow?

Air plants can be big or small
Different varieties of air plants grow to different sizes

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Like all other plants, air plants also grow. Different baby air plants grow to different sizes ranging from a few inches to a few feet.

Different varieties of Tillandsia ionantha grow up to 1-2 inches, Tillandsia funckiana grows up to 3-5 inches, while a growing Tillandsia butzii can range from 2-8 inches. Some of the varieties that can grow big are Tillandsia xerographica that can grow up to 2 feet, while Tillandsia bulbosa grows up to 1.5 feet.

What Are Air Plants Good for?

Air plants are good for people who like having them, but can’t put in a lot of effort in taking care of them. All that these plants need, is an ideal location for sufficient indirect sunlight and good air circulation, along with some tap water.

They also make great display pieces for your homes. They are not very heavy and do not require soil, so you can put them in anything, ranging from simple ceramic pots to different types of glass globes.

Taking care of air plants is very rewarding for their owners, because even with minimal effort, they look beautiful.

Which Air Plants Should Not Be Soaked?

Most, if not all air plants are xeric plants, which have adapted to survive in low moisture habitats. So unlike most mesic green plants, they don’t need to be soaked regularly.

Because of the presence of their fuzzy leaves, Tillandsia tectorum absorb enough moisture from the air. The best way to water this air plant is to spray water on them.

Similarly, Tillandsia xerographica can survive with less water because of their xeric adaptation. So instead of soaking, you should dunk them in a bucket, and let it dry out for some time to prevent water retention.

It’s better to mist air plants with straggly leaves like T. andreana or T. fuchsii, instead of dunking them because the thin leaves don’t need much water.

How to Display Air Plants

Air plants need a creative diaply to show them off
An air plant displayed in an ornamental glass bowl

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You can display your air plants in a variety of ways.

You can never go wrong with simple pots, made of ceramic, concrete or glass – They look classic, and don’t take much space, so you can place them anywhere. A variation of this is the wooden display tray, which is simple in design, yet looks elegant.

Nowadays, people like to go for more stylish displays though. If you are one of them, sculpture displays are available in various, styles, shapes and sizes for you to choose from.

If you have a lot of space, you can get bigger metal frames or display shelves for your house plants.

Something that has been gaining popularity with owners is the gemstone holder, usually made of amethyst. It not only functions as a display case for your plants, but also a stylish piece of décor for your homes.

How to Hang Air Plants

Probably the most popular way of displaying air plants among owners is to hang them. Hanging air plants look great because of their long, dangling, fuzzy leaves.

There are a variety of ways you can hang air plants. Some of them are listed below:

  • Teardrop Terrarium – Terrarium is a glass container for air plants. Keeping them close to a window is a great place for air plants to absorb sunlight or artificial lighting much better because of the heat trapped by the glass terrariums.
  • Ceramic Holder – Ceramic holders are like ceramic pots, which you can hang on the wall or by the ceiling using a rope. Ceramic holders are popular because they are available in many colors, sizes and shapes.
  • Wood Stump Wall Mount – If you don’t want to hang your air plant container by a rope, since you’re afraid of them falling, wall mounts are what you’re looking for. They are more stable, easy to fix on a wall and looks great.
  • Macrame Rope Hanger – If you want to go for a Bohemian chic vibe, get yourselves a hammock-inspired knitted hanger for your air plants. But remember that they can’t hold the bigger air plants, but are perfect for small air plants.
  • Hanging Shelf/Pots – The classic way to hang your air plants is in a shelf or pot which you can hang by a rope to the ceiling or on the wall. Longer air plants like Spanish moss, looks great in this setup.

How to Care for Air Plants

Here are some ways to take care of your air plants. Remember, they need less water, indirect sunlight and plenty of air, and they will thrive.

  • Unlike many plants however, they don’t need a lot of sunlight, so make sure they get a good 3-4 hours of artificial light or indirect sunlight every day.
  • They also don’t need a good soak like most other plants do, so misting them or dunking them in tap water is enough to meet their water requirements. Don’t use distilled water, as they remove the good minerals necessary for a plant’s growth.
  • Air plants, as the name suggests, needs a lot of air though. So make sure whichever room you place your air plants in, is well-ventilated.
  • Occasionally, during your air plant’s growing season you can spray some bromeliad fertilizer on them too. But avoid using too much fertilizer.
  • During it’s life cycle, air plants grow within the first 4-6 months and then die within the next year. If you want your plant to never die, you can pluck a baby pup from the mother plant, when the pup is a third of the size of its mother.

FAQ Relating to Do Air Plants Need Sun?

Indoor air plants should be away from a bright window
Air plants don’t much sun and so are perfect for growing indoors

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Are you someone who would like to have plants in their home, but doesn’t have enough time to take care of them?

We have some good news for you : indoor air plants are what you are looking for. They are low-maintenance plants, and there’s about 650 different species of them for you to choose from.

In this article, we’ve provided you with suitable information about taking care of them. Here are some other frequently asked questions about air plants:

How Much Sun Does an Air Plant Need?

Air plants don’t need a lot of sun. You can place them under indirect sunlight or under an artificial light source.

However, in very humid conditions, you can put them under direct sunlight. Since the extra moisture the leaves will collect, will not let the leaves wilt under direct sunlight.

Can Air Plants Grow Without Sun?

Yes, air plants can grow without the sun. Air plants will wither under direct sunlight, so they don’t require much sunlight.

All they need is some light, from any light source, and they will grow well. So, artificial light like fluorescent lights work perfectly fine as well.

Can Air Plants Survive in the Dark?

If you want your air plants to flourish, make sure they are not kept in a dimly lit area. Like any plant, they will not survive in the dark, so move them to a well-lit room or some place that gets enough indirect sunlight.

How Long Can Air Plants Go Without Light?

At most, air plants can up to 14-15 days without light. It depends on how much light the plants usually get.

If they are not used to too much light, they can survive for longer without light. But, if they are used to getting a healthy dose of sunlight regularly, they might start withering faster.

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