Tillandsia: The House Plant for People Who Kill House Plants

You may not recognize this plant by the formal name of “tillandsia,” as it’s more popularly known as the “air plant,” the “tilly,” or the “airplant.” If you despair of ever successfully having happy, flourishing indoor plants, despair no longer. The adaptable and resilient air plant has come to your rescue. Even if you fancy yourself as someone with a green thumb, tillandsias are exotic-looking and exciting plants that you’ll love having around, and their beginner difficulty level means you won’t have to think of them when you don’t want to.


Air What?

Tillandsia is a specific genus of over 730 species of evergreen, perennial flowering plants. These plants are native to Central and South America, the West Indies, and the southern portions of the United States. The tillandsia species are aerophytes (also called epiphytes), meaning that they normally grow without soil, but while attached to other plants. Yep, you heard that right. These plants don’t need soil to grow. This is part of why they’re so darn easy to take care of, and why they sport such amazing shapes and formations. These air plants gather their nutrients and moisture from the air through their leaves without ever needing to…put down roots.


What Can I Do with It?

Anything and everything. Tillandsias are wildly versatile in that they can be quite literally glued to another material and left there as decor. But, yes, it’s a plant. And a spunky-looking one, at that. Today it’s popular to decorate your home with tillandsias in glass globes or spheres with spritzes of marbles or other ornamental accents. You can put tillandsias in pet terrariums, in vases, or anywhere else that strikes your fancy. They’re hardy little plants that couldn’t care less where you store them, as long as it’s not too frosty.


How Do I Care for It?

If you have your tillandsia in a place where you can take it out by itself, it will happily take a thorough soaking in water overnight every one-and-a-half weeks. Otherwise, you can mist your tillandsia with water about every four to five days. As with any plant, you’ll have to adjust according to the season and to how warm the area is that you keep your tillandsia in. You don’t need soil for these plants, which means they also don’t need pots. If you’re a minimalist, keep your tillandsia out in the open completely by itself. It won’t mind.

A “Growing” Trend

Tillandsia plants have surged in popularity alongside of succulents. However, while succulent plants need proper soil and nutrition, tillandsias are infinitely hardier and can take a much more impressive beating. You can also stick them just about anywhere without a peep of complaint. If you tend to kill house plants more than you tend to keep them around, try out a tillandsia. You might just find you have a green thumb after all.