three geometric containers with assorted tillandsia air plants in a windowsill

Bright Sunlight and Air Plants: How Much Light Exposure Does Your Plant Need?

3 comments by Jamie Beck

Sun Exposure Varies by Plant Species 

air plant tillandsia sunlight
Generally speaking, it's best to keep your air plants out of direct sunlight when possible. Each plant is unique, though, so different species of air plants might cause some variations in the care they need. A common cause of an unsightly air plants is too much sun exposure.

Luckily, there are ways to determine how much sunlight your plant needs! If your plant has thin, wispy leaves, it likely comes from a naturally shady environment, meaning it won’t fare well in direct sunlight. Thick, full leaves indicate that your plant can retain more moisture than others, so it might appreciate a little more sunlight. Some air plants, like Xerographica, have silver leaves that indicate it can handle direct sunlight. 

tillandsia harrisii air plants in a wooden bowl

Indoor vs. Outdoor Plants 

Indoor plants will likely do best near a window that offers some shade from a tree or any other barrier that can prevent direct sunlight. Another great option is to keep your plant in an office with indirect sunlight or bright fluorescent lighting. Plant owners that prefer to keep their air plants outdoors should be sure they are in an area that won’t experience direct sunlight for more than a couple hours per day. A completely shaded outdoor spot under a tree or on a porch would be an even better alternative. Another consideration is the strength and angle of the sun during the year. If your air plants live outside and you live in the American South or Southwest, tillandsias will tolerate a lot more winter sun than summer sun. Same goes for plants that are kept indoors in the north, they will also tolerate more direct winter sun than summer sun. The general rule to follow is that direct, midday sun, is bad. Morning and evening sun is well tolerated.

Signs of Sun Damage 

Some signs that your plant has received too much sunlight are dried out patches on its leaves or a splotchy appearance when the leaves are wet. If your plant starts to show these signs, don’t worry yet! Move your plant from its current location and gently pull off any leaves that appear to be damaged. If the leaves don’t pull easily, scissors should work to remove them. After the damaged leaves are removed, soak your air plant in some water and find a shadier location for it to live. Avoid fertilizing your plant until it appears to be healthy again- lightly misting (but not completely soaking) your plant between its regular watering schedule will help revive it. Taking care of these plants is generally low-maintenance, so with some extra care and patience, your plant will make a quick return to good health!

Ready to become a plant owner? Check out Air Plant Shop’s selection here


  • Carla Caparrelli

    I have had very good luck with my air plants. They are so healthy. When I purchased mine I also ordered their fertilizer. My air plants are a joy for me to grow. Everyone loves them I get many compliments when I have company. I like this company.

  • Wanda R Forrest

    I find your articles easy to understand and very benificial.. I have tried air plants in the past but they only lasted a few months.. Im trying again!!

  • Chris Hadley

    My transaction with Air Plant Shop has been excellent! I appreciate the prompt attention and solution to a problem I had and highly recommend this company. Also, the bonus of their charity program is a wonderful venture.

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