Air Plant Varieties

Discover the hidden beauty of exotic and easy to care for air plants.
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Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III/ Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Paul T. Isley III / Rainforest Flora, Inc.

Tillandsia lorentziana

One way air plants reproduce is by producing offsets or pups, small plants that form alongside the mother plant. Tillandsia lorentziana, native to Bolivia and Brazil, quickly reproduces by forming a clump. White leaves are almost velvety to the touch.

Tillandsia tricolor

Many air plants boast colorful leaves. Tillandsia tricolor has bright green leaves with dark bases. High light coaxes red tints from foliage, as does flowering.

Tillandsia ‘Houston’

Silvery leaves hint at the fact that Tillandsia ‘Houston’ (stricta X recurvifolia) is a more drought-tolerant air plant that can take brighter light.

Tillandsia abdita

Some air plants produce a flower spike; others nestle blooms within the rosette of leaves. Like many tillandsias, Tillandsia abdita leaves turn a striking color when plants are blooming.

Tillandsia abdita

A Mexican native, this air plant typically grows soft leaves that vary from light green to light red. Leaves darken to a bright red when plants flower.

Tillandsia myosura

In Latin, the word “myosura” means mouse tail, which describes the thin, curving leaves of this air plant. Tillandsia myosura is easy to grow, thriving in bright light and quickly forming clumps.

Tillandsia caliginosa

Native to Bolivia and Argentina, this air plant opens yellow-tone, fragrant blooms. The flowers contrast nicely with the white leaves. A slow grower, it takes several growing seasons for Tillandsia caliginosa plants to form clumps.

Tillandsia huamelula

Leaves often don a salmon tint on Tillandsia huamelula, even when plants aren’t in flower. It’s not uncommon to purchase air plants in a 2- to 3-inch tall range, like this plant.

Tillandsia neglecta

Light green leaves with purple bases are eye-catching on this Brazilian native. Flower stalks sport blooms in coral and blue. Air plants typically flower when grown in ideal conditions. Many flower from late winter through midsummer.

Tillandsia bergeri

If you want an air plant that produces a happy clump, Tillandsia bergeri is for you. Most air plants form pups only during a certain time of year; T. bergeri forms them year-round. Grow it suspended to allow a round clump to develop freely. Plants prefer high humidity.

Tillandsia setacea

The needle-leaf air plant is native to Florida. Leaves in the clumps of this tillandsia stand upright like knitting needles. Leaf shape is a clue that this air plant likes air movement—just like it would experience in one of its native settings at Rocky Point Hammock along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Tillandsia minasgeraisensis

A thick layer of trichomes gives the leaves of this air plant a silvery sheen. Even blossom spikes bear the frosting. This rare tillandsia forms nice clumps and is native to Brazil.

Tillandsia igneciae

Hailing from Mexico, this small tillandsia’s narrow leaves are a clue that it appreciates good air movement. Plants grow well when placed on their sides or even upside down. Tillandsia igneciae is a rare air plant and a good candidate for displaying on a rock or branch.

Tillandsia arhiza

Curling, twisting leaves give Tillandsia arhiza a sculptural appearance. The stiff leaves have an attractive silver hue. Flowers on this tillandsia are fragrant.

Tillandsia secunda

Most tillandsias boast a modest profile, but Tillandsia secunda reaches larger sizes. This is one air plant that will grow in a pot, as long as it’s tucked into a fast-draining soil mix. Or you can grow it as a traditional air plant, mounted on a branch or slab. The flower lasts a long time, with new plants appearing on the spent bloom.