Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra Air Plant Clump

Air Plant Propagation: Clumps!

by Jamie Beck

Have you seen those neat balls of air plants hanging in a greenhouse and ever wondered what they were? These are actually air plant clumps that are formed from multiple offsets (pups) that are growing together! Or maybe you want to grow a clump of your own. Read on for some tips on growing an air plant clump, and some photos of some pretty impressive air plant clumps that we have had over the years! 


Tillandsia ionantha air plant clump in bloom

This lovely T. ionantha clump is mounted to a piece of driftwood. It is attached by the plant's roots!

Let’s start from the beginning. To summarize, an air plant’s life cycle is at its pinnacle when it blooms, and will soon send its energy to creating pups or as we like to call them air plant babies. Learn more about the blooming process and air plant propagation in these blog posts. 
So the first rule of thumb with propagation is to continue caring for your air plant as you normally would, giving your plant adequate sunlight and water. This is also a good time to fertilize. Normally we would recommend removing the pup when it is about a third of the size of the parent plant, but in this case, leave it. Some plants produce more than one pup at a time.


Tillandsia air plant clumps

It can take a while to form a clump so be patient. As the pups begin to grow, they too will flower and eventually produce pups. If left to grow naturally in this way, they will form a clump.
Tillandsia ionantha clump on driftwood
Some plants are more prolific clump producers than others, including the ionantha, ionantha vanhyningii, schiedeana, houston enano, and stricta, among others. 


Tillandsia air plant clumps

Some plant clumps lend well to being hung by wire which encourages them to grow in a spherical shape, but they can also be mounted to a piece of wood, or left to grow unmounted. We have had great success in growing T. ionantha clumps on wires. 


Tillandsia ionantha rubra air plant on a wire

A Tillandsia ionantha rubra clump hanging from a wire 


Blooming ionantha air plant clump

A stunning T. ionantha clump in bloom 


So to get your air plants to begin growing towards a clump
  • Continue caring for your plant as normal
  • Fertilize once a month (We have fertilizer available in our shop)
  • Allow pups to grow instead of removing them 
  • Use wire to hang the clump to promote a spherical shape


Tillandsia air plant clumps

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