Are you an air plant beginner? Wondering what air plants you should start your collection with? Well, the good thing about air plants is that they pretty hardy and forgiving, and most are relatively easy to take care of, so really any air plant that you choose will be likely be easier to take care of than many other plants you might have tried your hand at.
First, what is an air plant? An air plant (Tillandsia) is an epiphyte which means that they grow in and among trees and rocks and get their nutrients and water from the air by using their trichomes (little fuzzy hairs) to absorb these nutrients. There are over 500 varieties and they are very versatile which makes them a favorite among plant collectors! And because they don't require soil, they can be displayed in endless ways and in spaces that normally wouldn't lend themselves to potted plants.
Below we have compiled a list of our top 5 beginner air plants and some information on their care. Of course, the air plant that is right for you will depend largely on your environment. As always, if you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we're always happy to help you select the right Tillandsia for your space.
#1. Tillandsia ionantha air plant: These are generally smaller air plants that require minimal care. The best part? You can choose from a variety of types: Ionantha mexican, Ionantha guatemala, Ionantha Rubra, Ionantha fuego, and Ionantha vanhyningii are a few of our favorites. (Learn more about these little guys in our blog post all about ionanthas!). These guys love plentiful indirect sunlight, and will even eventually bloom a beautiful purple flower. These little guys are also big propagators, so you’ll soon have little baby air plants withe proper care - or leave them attached to form a clump! Learn more about air plant propagation. The other great thing about these little guys is that they are relatively inexpensive so you can select a few of them for a pretty air plant display that won't break the bank.
#2. Tillandsia aeranthos air plant (and aeranthos hybrid): The Tillandsia aeranthos is one of the more common air plants. It is the perfect size for terrariums and is fun to use in decorating. Aeranthos air plants are a very hardy variety with stiff leaves and are perfect for beginning air plant enthusiasts and veteran Tillandsia collectors alike. These medium sized air plants will blush a light purple and bloom bright pink blooms. There are also many hybrids of this popular air plant, and we recommend the aeranthos major for its beautiful shape, and easy care. Read more about the T. aeranthos air plant.
#3. Tillandsia stricta air plant: Another hardy stiff leaved variety, Tillandsia Stricta air plants are a favorite of air plant collectors. They can thrive on a variety of surfaces, so you can place them on wood, rocks, seashells, ceramics and anything else you can think of! One of the more popular air plants, these medium air plants make a statement without requiring crazy amounts of care! They bloom a beautiful pink bloom and will eventually grow offsets from the base. Read more about the Tillandsia stricta air plant.
#4. Tillandsia xerographica air plant: Known as the Queen of the Air Plants, the stately Tillandsia xerographica is definitely a favorite among both air plant collectors and novices, as well as in event design and staging. These plants are very hardy and are considered “xeric” plants meaning that they thrive in drier conditions and love more sunlight (these are one of the few Tillandsia that can handle a bit of direct sun). Perfect for those busy air plant lovers or those who *gasp* forget to water their plants for a week or so, these guys will generally be ok with a slight lack of water. The amount of water they get and way they are displayed will affect their overall shape. Less water will cause the T. xerographica’s leaves to be more tightly curled, whereas more frequent waterings will cause the leaves to loosen a bit for a fuller shape. These can be hung and left to grow and often create a stunning cascading display with their leaves. Read more about the xerographica air plant.
#5. Tillandsia harrisii air plant: The T. harrisii air plant is another more xeric variety which will be a bit more tolerant to less frequent waterings. These air plants will still want a soak every week or so (depending on your environment) but can be a bit more forgiving if you miss a week. Characterized by their wide silver leaves, these striking air plants are beautiful displayed on their own or with a selection of other Tillandsia. Due to their abundance of trichomes, they will be able to handle a bit more sunlight than some of the deeper green air plant species and will want plentiful, bright indirect sunlight. Read more about the Tillandsia harrisii here.
Another great option if you're just starting your air plant collection is our Air Plant Starter Kit, which comes with a variety of beautiful Tillandsia (air plants) and an Air Plant Fertilizer to encourage growth and blooming.
Ready to start building your air plant collection? What are you waiting for? Shop air plants now or select from one of our terrarium kits that has all you need to create a beautiful air plant display.
And be sure to read all about air plant care to determine the right plants for your environment.