Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tillandsia Care Part II: Light and Air

Tillandsias need water, light, air, and some light feeding. They don't need dirt or darkness. Those principals are all you really need to grow beautiful Tillies, but I'm going into the specifics because I think more and more people are fascinated and ready to grow airplants indoors. They've been a popular outdoor plant in the tropics and subtropics since forever, but I get questions every day about how to grow them inside the house. Since they don't need dirt, and grow slowly, they make ideal houseplants. No dirt, no bugs, no mold, no muss, no fuss.
Outdoor Tillandsias, Doing Their Own Thing

T. magnusiana, Indoors
Tilladsias require varying degrees of light, as different species grow in different environments, from mountain heights to jungle valleys. But I find that all of mine have done well in bright, filtered light. They face east, and I've also tried northern windows (unfiltered). Both directions have worked well, though east is the best. West and south, the light would have to be more muted. However, if you live closer to the Poles than I do, a south or west-facing window might well be ideal. Hot afternoon sun is not so good for Tillies, and because they cannot sit in cooling, damp earth, they can "cook" more quickly in hot sun than other denizens of your indoor garden.

Tillies also need a lot of air circulation, just like Lithops and other mesembs. They are very pest-resistant but some species, like T. caput medusae and T. paucifolia, can rot at the base if they don't have fresh air.
Tillandsia caput medusae can easily rot at the base.

I have found that CD housing works beautifully for Tillies. I just make sure that, if the CD rack is metal, it's been sealed, as zinc and copper are toxic to Tillies. They are in a large, airy room with ceiling fans, next to an eastern window that can be screened if it gets too hot or bright.
A Tillandsia High-Rise Apartment Building.

So plenty of air, plenty of light, and you're all set! The next Tillie Care post will be about specific housings/mounts for Tillandsias, what works and what doesn't. See you then!


  1. Thank you so much for this tillandsia care series. It's very helpful and informative, please continue!

  2. I'm so glad you find it helpful! I will certainly continue.