Easiest Air Plants to Grow for Beginners

Air plants are unique and beautiful. Which ones should you consider growing if you’re a beginner?

Many people like air plants because of their easy-going nature. Most of the time, they tolerate it if you forget to water them, and they don’t need to be repotted every couple of years. Not all air plants are easy to care for, so if you’re looking for one that is simple, here are twelve great options!

12 Great Air Plants for Beginners

Tillandsia aeranthos

The Tillandsia aeranthos is the perfect size for terrariums and decorating purposes. They are a very hardy group of plants, making them popular with beginning plant enthusiasts and experts alike. Stiff green stems grow upward, and once they mature a beautiful pink bud develops that will open to display deep purple flowers. 

pink and purple flowers of an aeranthos plant

Tillandsia butzii

Tillandsia butzii air plants are quirky with wispy, tentacle-like leaves that look more like something you’d find living in the ocean than growing on a tree. They quickly reach 8-10” in size and have stunning red blooms. As they mature, butzii produce pups that form a gorgeous clump if they aren’t separated.  

A butzii air plant held by wooden man figure

Tillandsia capitata

Tillandsia capitata is easy to find in stores and grows to be a bit bigger than many other types of air plants. The light green leaves grow in a rosette shape and are larger and soft, with their ample trichomes giving the plant a velvety appearance. Plants put out multiple greenish-yellow inflorescences that open to purple blooms.

Unlike some other types, Tillandsia capitata like a lot of moisture. In the summertime, soak or dunk your plant for fifteen minutes a couple of times, and mist them heavily in the winter at least once or twice a week.

A person holding a capitata air plant

Tillandsia caput-medusae

Also called an octopus plant, the Tillandsia caput-medusae is popular for its unique snake-shaped leaves. The bulbous shape means you can stick to misting these plants instead of soaking or dunking them when they need water. Mist three times a week through the summer, twice a week in spring and fall, and once a week during the winter. 

One of the fascinating things about the T. caput-medusae is plants are agotropic, which means they always grow straight, no matter which way you mount them. Most plants twist and turn their stems to grow upwards towards the light, but this one doesn’t. 

A single tillandsia medusa air plant in a white vase

Tillandsia fuchsii

Tillandsia fuchsii looks like it has a crazy case of bedhead! Tuft-like, silvery narrow leaf blades extend outwards from a circular base. These thin leaves mean your plant needs to be watered slightly more often because there is less room to store moisture. Dried, brown leaf tips indicate your plants need to be soaked or misted between watering sessions.  

Tillandsia fuchsii plants on the table

Tillandsia harrisii

Tillandsia harrisii belongs to the xeric group of air plants from hotter parts of the world, so it doesn’t need frequent watering. These slow-growing plants can reach over 8” tall with soft, fuzzy silvery leaves that grow in a rosette shape. They’ll display a stunning red inflorescence that opens into purple flowers when they are a year or two old. 

small air plant sitting on a swirled wire

Tillandsia ionantha

Tillandsia ionantha air plants are some of the most commonly grown because of their beautiful, vivid coloration and smaller size. Most varieties have fuzzy leaves due to their trichomes, making them more drought-tolerant. Plants love bright, indirect light and will be fine without dunking if you mist them a few times a week.

ionantha flowers very decorative in the garden

Tillandsia streptophylla

If you’re looking for an easy to care for yet larger air plant, the Tillandsia streptophylla is an excellent choice. This attractive air plant needs one to two hours of direct sun every day and will develop a pinkish tint to its leaves when it gets lots of light. Plants are bulbous, so they do better with misting versus dunking.

The word “streptophylla” comes from a combination of Greek adjectives: “streptos” means twisted or contorted, and “phyllon” means leaves. When the conditions are drier, this plant gets curlier, with its leaves curling into tight ringlets.

a hand holding a curly tillandsia

Tillandsia stricta

Tillandsia stricta has beautiful, densely packed green leaves, and once mature, plants produce a beautiful white flower spike that opens to reveal blue, purple, or yellow blooms. Unfortunately, blooms only last a day, but bright leaves below it can last almost three months. Soak plants 15-30 minutes two to three times a week in summer and once a week in winter.

tillandsia plant on a scrap tree part

Tillandsia tectorum

The Tillandsia tectorum is an adorable, slow-growing, fuzzy air plant. The whitish leaves have many trichomes for water absorption, making them very drought-tolerant and giving them their fuzzy look. Because of its drought tolerance, it is super easy to grow. Plants don’t need dunking or soaking. Just mist them three to five times a week when it’s hot.

In the spring, fall, and winter, cut back on misting and only spray them two or three times a week.

closeup picture of a tillandsia tectorum air plant

Tillandsia tenuifolia

Also commonly called the “narrowleaf air plant,” Tillandsia tenuifolia has beautiful, rigid green leaves that make it look like a tiny, spiked evergreen bush. Over time the leaves start curling a little, and the plant puts out a beautiful bright neon pink flower. In areas with high light, leaves will be brighter green, and in lower light, they darken.

tillandsia tenuifolia growing on the trunk of a tree

Tillandsia xerographica

The Tillandsia xerographica is characterized by a stunning spherical shape. As plants grow, pale silver leaves spiral from the center and curl down around the plant to create a beautiful form. You can change the look of your plant by adjusting how much you water it. Less water causes the leaves to curl tighter, and frequent waterings loosen the leaves.

The xerographica is also known as “xeros,” getting its name from the Greek language. Xeros means “dry,” and graphia means “writing.” 

Xeros are hardy air plants and need less water than many other types. They prefer to be sprayed or misted versus prolonged soaks but will tolerate a quick dunk in water. 

xerographica air plant on a hanging metal container
Carley Miller
Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at Bustling Nest. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.
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