How To Propagate Tillandsia (Air Plants)?

Do you know an excellent plant that would be a great addition to your collection of office or houseplants? The answer to this question is tillandsias, popularly known as air plants. Tillandsias are unique plants to keep at home because of their uniquely beautiful appearance and the minimal maintenance to flourish.

There are ways to propagate tillandsias, such as Offsets or Pups, which take less time and effort and have higher success rates. Seeds a great but take long periods to grow; they are recommended when you don’t have an existing tillandsia.

Plant propagation is a process that works towards creating new plants. When your plants mature and bring new babies (pups), you can take advantage of this by removing and growing them separately.

From purifying the air in the surrounding areas to making you feel calmer and more creative, in addition to a wealth of health benefits, tillandsias are nothing short of amazing. And when you already have a small family of air plants, wouldn’t creating an even more prominent family be better? This highly informative article will educate you on how to propagate air plants.

How to Propagate Air Plants from Offsets

Propagation of tillandsias (Air Plants) from offsets or pups is the best way to go about it because this method takes less time and effort and has higher success rates. As your air plant grows, you will notice that offsets will begin to spring from it, and this is an excellent chance to leverage to create new tillandsias so that the generation continues to live.

As part of the bromeliad family, tillandsias naturally take a considerably long time to mature. When nurturing tillandsias, you might only see the offsets after the first bloom that might happen after six months. But please note that other tillandsias might take a little longer to bloom.

Usually, you would find numerous offsets growing from the parent plant. And they would appear as tiny nodes at the base of the plant.

Alternatives are still available if you have no mature air plants to source the pups from. We know you will be happy to learn that you can buy a mature air plant from the local nursery or gardening center near you to provide a ready source of offsets to work within your propagation process. Now that the source of pups is available, let’s explore how to remove them from the mother plant and start propagation.

The materials you will need for the process are:            

Here is how to remove the offsets from the mother plant and propagate:

  • If you have displayed your air plants by mounting them, remove them from this location using wire cutters or pliers.
  • The next step is to place your air plants in a bowl of water for at least two hours for hydration, making it easy to work on them.
  • You will then remove your tillandsias from the water and place them on your work surface. Carefully spread your plants to see the pups at the bottom of the plant. Check for where the pups are connected to the mother plant. Ensure they are at least a quarter to one inch in size before cutting them.
  • Now, proceed to cut the offsets from the plant simply. Be careful in this process to avoid harming the offsets or the mother plant. Place your offsets in a water bowl as you remove them from the plant.
  • Thank your mother plant for the pups by returning it to where it was initially displayed. Ensure the parent air plants get good air circulation and bright indirect sunlight.
  • It’s time to tend to the newly acquired offsets. Grow them the same way you would have done with a full-sized air plant. Make sure you place them in a spot with bright indirect light.
  • Pay attention to the nurturing process to ensure your offsets mature into healthy plants. Mist them at least once a week so they can continue to grow. You can also soak them once in two weeks for better moisturization. The best time to give them water is in the morning or early afternoon. This will enable them to have enough time to dry before nighttime. Remember, their respiration process takes place at night. If the leaves are covered with water, they may have problems absorbing the much-needed carbon dioxide.
  • Fertilizing your new tillandsia at least once a month is also a good idea for healthier growth. Feed them with bromeliad food or an orchid plant food.
  • And when your new tillandsias grow into a desirable size, it’s time to display them. You can display them beautifully in a glass terrarium or recreate their natural habitat by attaching them with glue to a grapevine or driftwood. The display method is purely a matter of choice. Explore the options available for showcasing the beautiful air plants in your space.

How to Propagate Air Plants from Seeds

Propagation of air plants from seeds is yet another option available for you. However, the major downside of this process is that it will take you a very long time to get your air plant to the desired size. Tillandsias grow slowly and take over nine months to reach their full size. Nonetheless, it is still worth trying.

To propagate air plants from seeds, you will need the following:

Here are the steps you will follow for this propagation method:

  • If you plan to collect the seeds from the air plants you have at home, check the surface of a blooming tillandsia. You will find some wisps of cotton on the tips of the plant, the seeds you will be working with. The other option is to have ready seeds purchased from a nursery.
  • Once your seeds are ready, place them in a bowl or container. Add some water to this container to soak your seeds. You must soak them for at least three weeks but not longer than four weeks. Place the soaked seeds in an area within your eyesight to avoid forgetting about them.
  • After soaking your seeds, you must observe them through the days as you wait for them to swell and expand in size. You will know your seeds have started germinating when they appear light green and have a rice-grain size.
  • At the dawn of germination, you will remove your seeds from the container they were in and spread them evenly on a cheesecloth. Ensure you have placed this cheesecloth in an area that receives a lot of indirect sunlight. But if you need to place it inside, ensure they are close to a southern or eastern-facing window.
  • Now, it’s time to fill your spray bottle with water. Use this water to mist your plants at least once a week. You can also soak them in a water-filled bowl for about 20 minutes. After this watering process, it is important to turn the plant upside down to drain off excess water that could cause it to rot. Remember, your young plants need adequate watering to stay healthy.
  • Another thing that your seedlings need to flourish is fertilizer. Consult with the attendants at your gardening center for the best liquid fertilizer that is made specifically for tillandsias. Once you get this fertilizer, utilize the instructions on its container to mix up what you will use on your seedlings. You can use the same spray bottle to water your plants to fertilize them. The best recommendation is to fertilize your plant at least once a month.
  • Here comes the time you’ve been waiting for; once your plants are grown enough, like a few inches tall, you can take them to a new location. Pick an ideal spot in your home that is well-lit and dry since too much water can spoil your plant. Decide on a display method that works best for you. You can place them in a decorative glass container or attach them to natural surfaces like rocks.
  • And with these few detailed steps, you will certainly achieve the results you hope for with propagating tillandsias from seeds.

Click 12 Air Plants Easy to Take Care of to know what air plants are for you.

How To Care for Your Newly Acquired Air Plants

As we mentioned earlier, tillandsias are relatively low-maintenance houseplants. Once you get a few conditions right, you have an assurance that your plants will thrive. Here are a few tips for caring for your new tillandsias:

  • Give them adequate indirect sunlight. If they are in a room that doesn’t receive sunlight, you can expose them to a full-spectrum fluorescent light for at least 12 hours a day.
  • The ideal temperature for your plants is 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t want to freeze or fry your tillandsias.
  • Maintain a consistent watering schedule incorporating misting and soaking at least once weekly.
  • Air plant fertilizer is good for the health of your plants; fertilize them once every month.

If you want to know 20 Awesome Air Plants to Grow at Home for Beginners, you can click the link provided.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is unique about air plants?

Air plants are named as such because they are epiphytes, meaning they live in trees instead of anchoring their roots in the ground. Instead, they absorb rainwater and nutrients through their leaves and small roots.

How long do Tillandsia flowers last?

If you have a Tillandsia, the bloom will often last 2 to 3 weeks. Unfortunately, getting the flower wet will shorten the bloom length – so only submerge the flowering tillandsia halfway during this period.

Do air plants purify the air?

Studies have shown that houseplants can help purify the air indoors in minimal amounts, which is usually negligible in a realistic domestic setting.

Do air plants get bigger?

As they get bigger, they grow a little faster after the first few years. While seed-grown plants develop significantly slower than offset-grown plants, they tend to be larger and better specimens. Be patient when a little air plant might take years to grow and bloom.

How do I know if my air plant is healthy?

Check your plants’ leaves for clues on whether they are thirsty. Dry curl leaves and a healthy white fuzz mean your plant is healthy, not necessarily drying out. Brown leaf tips and a general shriveled appearance are other clues you are under-watering.


Air plants have an estimated lifespan of two to five years. Propagation is a great way to ensure you consistently have this precious plant in your home. Tillandsias are relatively low-maintenance houseplants. Once you get a few conditions right, you have an assurance that your plants will thrive.

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