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Do Air Plants Need Sunlight? Yes!

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give your air plants the right light

let there be light

Some people wonder: Do air plants need sun? The answer is Yes! They do! It’s important to know the right-light sweet spot is for your air plants. The short answer is bright, indirect light.

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Of course, that answer can be fine tuned. I’m sure you have noticed the silvery sheen or whitish fuzz on your air plants. Sometimes it is more visible on the underside of the leaf. On some air plants the sheen is highly visible, on others, not so much. The silvery sheen or fuzz has a name: trichomes.

Perfect - now my air plants get the light they need

Trichomes serve many purposes. Like a sponge they absorb water for the air plant. That’s why soaking is the best way to water air plants. Soaking gives the trichomes time to reach maximum water capacity. But, trichomes are more than sponges.

Soak air plants in water

Soaking your air plants in gives the trichomes a chance to absorb water and prevents dehydration.

Trichomes are serve as sun shields protecting the leaves from intense sunlight. The more trichomes an air plant has the more sun they can handle. Give the more silvery air plants the most very most light possible. Keep in mind that because our homes are so much darker than the outdoors, give your air plants the best indirect light that your home has to offer.

T. aeranthos basks in indirect light

Perched atop a bit of driftwood, this Tillandsia aeranthos basks in bright, indirect light. Although the trichomes are difficult to see, be assured that they are there.

You may be thinking: I know my side table is dark, but that is exactly where I want to place my air plant display. My answer is: Go right ahead and put your air plants wherever you want. This may mean that your plants won’t last as long as they would have in a more sunny location. But there is an alternative.

Play musical air plants. Watering day is the perfect time to take the air plants from their less than ideal locations and place them in the very best light location your home has to offer. Then take the air plants from their ideal location and place them on your side table. Or, wherever makes you happy to see them. Just remember that a weekend stay in prime light is not enough to compensate for primary residence on the dark bookcase.

Play musical air plants to give air plants enough light

Because my home has wide eaves, I know my air plants will never get enough light hanging out in my living room. By playing musical air plants they can take a short turn in the less than optimal lighting without any long-term harm as long as I don’t let them sit there for too many days before returning them bright, indirect light.

Remember when I said that indirect light is ideal for your air plants? Now I am going to modify that advice. A bit of direct light can actually be beneficial and can bring out more color in your plants. That said, watch for sunburn on the plant’s leaves and make sure they are adequately hydrated and ventilated. Weather permitting,cracking a window will add more air circulation for your air plants.

Pull up your blinds, throw open your curtains and let in the sunshine!

  1. Gayle Fiford says:

    Hi Anna.
    Thank you for sharing your great tips. Really making me understand about my air. My air plants have never produced flowers?
    Thank you.

    1. Anna says:

      Thanks for reaching out to me. Here are a couple of things you can do to promote flowering:
      First, give your air plants more light. It takes a lot of energy (in the form of light) for them to produce flowers.
      Second, fertilize your air plants, but do so sparingly.

      The bad news is that air plants bloom only once, so if your air plant bloomed before you got it, you’re out of luck.

      My first course of action would be to give your air plants more light – be patient.

      Thank you for your thoughtful question,

  2. Cari says:

    Very helpful plant tips! Thank you. Also using a grow light in my 55 gallon aquarium turned air plant terrarium. Any hints & comments will be apreciated. Thank you

    1. Anna says:

      Ooooh! Sounds beautiful. My only tips would be to dry the air plants thoroughly after watering before returning to the terrarium and to not add a lid to the terrarium for optimum air flow.
      Have a great day,

  3. Robyn says:

    These tips are great. I’m learning all about the reasons my previous air plants have not had a very long life. And will try no to make those mistakes again. Will a grow light i have on my fish tank, also be beneficial for my air plants, if i set them under the lamp for an hour every day? I live in a cold climate, and do plan to move them to the kitchen window but there is a bit of a draft there in the winter months and will worry they will get cold there.

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I haven’t grown air plants under lights I would love to hear how it goes. I have orchids under lights that do very well – but my air plants are doing great without artificial lights. PLEASE, let me know how it goes.

  4. Stacy says:

    Great article! My new addiction.

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you! The great part about an air plant addiction is that it’s a healthy addiction. Think how clean your air is with all those air plants!

  5. Violet says:

    Hi Anna, Thanks for all tips and advice. Since I accidentally deleted tip #3, I am kindly asking you to resend it please if that is possible. Thanks much.

    1. Anna says:

      Hey Violet,
      Check your inbox. I just sent you tip #3. Let me know if you didn’t get it.
      I’m glad you’re enjoying the tips!

  6. Jenn says:

    I’ve had my airplants for a couple years now with no deaths yet. I keep them in the front of a window that gets full evening sun. They do great but no offshoots yet, that’s my #1 wish. I soak them once a week. Love reading your article!

    1. Anna says:

      Congratulations on your air plants! That is kind of puzzling that your air plants haven’t produced any pups. Watch for your plants to change color- become more red or orange, starting in the center. That is a signal that they are about to bloom–and produce a pup for you.
      I really want you to get some air plant babies!

  7. Mario says:

    Thanks Ana … I am fascinated with the discovery of the world of air plants and think that I had them nearby, additional complement with the decoration……In my city (Quito) there is only one variety … I plan to travel around the country to find more varieties.

    1. Anna says:

      What an exciting journey of discovery lies ahead for your! I’m jealous!

  8. sandra carr says:

    i really learned a lot about my airplants thx so much

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you Sandra! I am glad you found my site helpful.
      Please, let me know if you have any questions about air plants that I can answer!

  9. Chris says:

    Can Air Plants survive being outside?

    1. Anna says:

      Yes they can. Keep your air plants above 40-50 degrees F and water frequently and provide some shade if temperatures reach above 100 degrees F.
      Have fun growing air plants outdoors!

  10. Caroline says:

    I have been going over your steps on Air plants and I have to say looking at so many “Growers” sites and listening to their advice etc.. I get confuse! Your steps however, are very easy to understand and very helpful. I have been taking notes and feel confident in giving my presentation next week.. THANK YOU so much..

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you Caroline. I am so glad that you find my information helpful and easy to understand!
      You’ll do great on your presentation!

  11. Joy kelley says:

    Great advice thanks so much joy

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you Joy!
      I’m so glad I could help!

  12. Nancy says:

    Thanks for the great advice. Now I know how to show off my air plants and also keep than happy and healthy!

    1. Anna says:

      Thanks Nancy!

  13. Dave says:

    Great info!

    1. annaw says:

      Glad you like it!?

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