Flowering Air Plants

Updated February 21, 2017

Air plants (Tillandsias) are completely epiphytic, or "air-growing," due to their ability to extract vital nutrients and moisture through their system of trichomes, which are fine hairs on their leaves. The trichomes give the plants their common silver velvety appearance. These plants grow on branches, cacti, bark, rock, sand and leaf litter found on forest floors. Some air plants produce flowers that bloom in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours.

Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish Moss)

Tillandsia usneoides, abbreviated as T. usneoides and referred to as Spanish moss, is a flowering air plant that grows on trees in a variety of tropical and subtropical climates. It does best in moist environments but can live in dry habitats as well. T. usneoides absorbs its water and nutrients from the surrounding atmosphere. Many flowering air plants are sensitive to frost, but T. usneoides can withstand nighttime frosts. It blooms pink, red or blue flowers.

Tillandsia ionantha (Blushing Bride)

Tillandsia ionantha (blushing bride), sometimes called T. ionantha, is a colourful flowering air plant. It is smaller than most, averaging only an inch or two tall at maturity. It produces a spiked purple flower surrounded by a blush of deep red leaves. The plant produces about three flowers, and each flower lasts for only a day or two. The plant does best in full sun and requires little watering.

Tillandsia arhiza

Tillandsia arhiza, or T. arhiza, is a flowering air plant that produces pink or purple flowers on the ends of thin stems that grow from the base of spirally arranged leaves. It grows best in tropical climates and is found growing naturally in tropical America, Africa and parts of China. It is also one of the few flowering air plants that produce fragrant flowers.

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About the Author

Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.