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Air Plants: The Soil-Free Wonders for Your Apartment

A grouping of four small air plants on a display board. Image credit: Liudmila Chernetska

February 2024


We love it when our Elmwood Manor residents add plants to their apartments and townhomes. It’s a great way to decorate, they improve air quality, and brighten the mood. But have you ever heard of plants that don’t need soil to grow? Yes, you read that right – no soil at all! Meet air plants, the charming and magical plants that are perfect for those who love greenery but might not have a green thumb.

What Are Air Plants?

Air plants, scientifically known as Tillandsia, are a type of bromeliad and are native to the forests, mountains, and deserts of Central and South America. What makes them unique is their ability to grow without soil. They have specialized leaves that absorb water and nutrients from the air, which is how they got their name. With over 650 different species, air plants come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them a delightful addition to any indoor space.

Why You Might Want Air Plants in Your Apartment or Townhome?

Low maintenance. Air plants are the epitome of low-maintenance gardening. They don’t need soil, so there’s no mess or fuss. They’re perfect for busy individuals or those who want a touch of greenery without the commitment of traditional gardening.

Versatile décor. Their soil-free nature means you can place them almost anywhere – in terrariums, on driftwood, in ceramic sculptures, or even hanging from the ceiling. They add a unique, living element to your home decor.

Air purification. Like many houseplants, air plants help purify the air. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, improving the air quality in your apartment.

Therapeutic benefits. Having and caring for plants, including air plants, can be therapeutic. They help reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being, which is always a plus in today’s busy world.

How to Grow and Care for Air Plants

Growing air plants is surprisingly easy. They love bright, indirect light. A spot near a window that gets plenty of natural but filtered light is ideal. If you’re placing them in a room with less natural light, consider using artificial grow lights.

To water your air plants, soak them in a bowl of water for about 20-30 minutes every week or two. After soaking, shake off any excess water and let them dry completely before returning them to their spot. Overwatering or letting them stay wet for too long can lead to rot.

Good air circulation is crucial for air plants. They need to dry out between waterings, so ensure they’re in a spot where air can flow freely around them. Air plants prefer a temperate climate – typical room temperatures are usually fine. They thrive in temperatures between 50-90°F. While not absolutely necessary, giving your air plants a monthly dose of fertilizer formulated for bromeliads or air plants can promote growth and flowering.

When it comes to displaying your air plants, there are lots of options specifically designed for them that you can purchase. But this is also an opportunity to get creative! Since they don’t need soil, you can place them in a variety of containers and settings. Just make sure wherever they are, they get enough light and air circulation.

Common Issues and Solutions

  • Browning tips can be a sign of under-watering. Increase your watering frequency slightly.
  • Rotting base is usually due to overwatering or poor air circulation. Make sure to shake off excess water and let the plant dry fully.
  • Lack of growth can be a sign that your plant needs more light or a bit of fertilizer.

So, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance and unique plant option for your apartment or townhome, consider the air plant. By following the simple care tips outlined above, you can enjoy their beauty, benefits, and – dare we say – magic!