assorted tillandsia air plants in bloom

Caring for a Blooming Air Plant

by Jamie Beck

Whether you’ve meticulously watered, fertilized, and babied your air plant for years or just happen to be fortunate enough to receive a blooming Tillandsia, the vibrant inflorescence that emerges from these plants is a sight to behold! However, caring for a blooming air plant requires a slightly different approach than caring for a non-blooming one. Since Tillandsia will only bloom once in their lifetime, it is important to ensure that your blooming air plant stays healthy and continues to delight you with its stunning flowers for as long as possible.

blushing and blooming tillandsia ionantha fuego air plant

Watering and Fertilization

Depending on the size and species of the air plant, blooms can last from a couple of days to several months. Normally, the larger the air plant, the larger and longer lasting the blooms will be. The Xerographica air plant, for example, will commonly have a blooming process of an entire year! During this blooming period, it is critical to provide the plant with proper hydration and necessary nutrients. Extra watering and the use of Tillandsia fertilizer may be necessary as the plant will be exerting all of its energy into the bloom and pup formation – shop our Ready-to-Use spray fertilizer and Grow More powder fertilizer. To prevent wilting and prolong the life of the flowers, be careful not to submerge the bloom stalk while soaking the plant. A light mist will suffice for this area.

Maintaining Spent Blooms

Once your air plant has finished dazzling you with its bright bracts and delicate flowers, you have the option to leave the plant in its natural state or maintain the spent bloom stalk. The dead flowers can be plucked from the inflorescence and once the bloom stalk has dried and lost its colors, it can be gently snipped and removed near the base. Just like practices for other plant varieties, this will help the plant focus its energy on creating offspring known as pups. These new growths can emerge before, during, or after the bloom. Sometimes pup formation takes several months so be sure to have patience and continue with the plant’s regular watering routine. Eventually, you will see the pups growing near the base of the plant or between the bottom leaves. Once they have grown to be about 1/3 the size of the mother plant, they can be separated to live on their own. Usually, a gentle pull will do the trick but small scissors or a knife can be used to cut the pup from the mother plant. For further pup removal tips and instructions, click here to read our blog about dividing air plant pups!

Have an air plant that has yet to flower? Check out our article about Getting an Air Plant to Bloom.

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