5 Types of Air Plant Varieties

There is a reason air plants have become so popular. They're super cool to look at and they're super hardy. Does it get any better than that in the plant world? Even the most inexperienced plant parent can have a beautiful array and not worry about spending gazillions of hours tending or stressing about them.

For those that are new to the air plant world, let's back up some and start at the beginning. Air plants, as the name suggests, are plants that grow feeding on the nutrients in the air. They don't need soil and have tiny if any, real roots. In nature, they attach themselves to trees, shrubs, rocks, and branches for support. Traditionally, they grow in warmer climates like in the southern United States, and Central and South America.

Scientifically known as tillandsias, air plants have special cells in their leaves that allow them to soak up the nutrition they need from water and nutrients in the air. There are over 600 varieties of air plants which makes it hard to pick favorites! However, I did manage to narrow down a few exceptional air plants and I'm happy to share my top choices with you now.

Tillandsia Caput-Medusae

Did you catch the reference in the name? This air plant has leaves that spread out like the venomous snakes on Medusa's head. It is a bizarre show-stopper that will have all your house guests in awe. Though, hopefully, it won't turn any of them to stone!

This air plant looks fuzzy on the surface and is most often a silver-green color with touches of purple throughout. In its natural habitat, it grows on bright, sunny spots, attached to tree branches.

Another fun bit about this air plant is that it basically defies gravity. Tillandsia Caput-Medusae is ageotropic, which means that no matter how you mount it, it will grow straight up.

Tillandsia Caput-Medusae

Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima

These intriguing air plants change from green to blushing coral red when they get sufficient sunlight. They bloom a bright purple flower and may even produce more than one flower at a time. It is like having a living art installment in your home. If you need some splashes of color in your life, maybe at your desk at work to keep you feeling alive and motivated, this little air plant is a top choice. Who knows, maybe this diminutive plant will inspire your next brilliant idea.

Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima

Tillandsia Funckiana

You really have to appreciate whoever named these air plants! This one is funky to be sure. Unlike other air plants that grow outwards branching away from their stems, this one grows upwards along its stem. It looks like a broken off piece of a pine branch and the leaves even feel like soft pine needles. It is elongated and often has twists in its stem for an even more unique look. The tips of the leaves turn reddish when it begins to bloom and then a brilliant red tubular
flower appears. This bloom is not to be missed.

Tillandsia Funckiana

Tillandsia Bulbosa (v. Belize & v. Guatemala)

This air plant is wild-looking, even among air plants. The base of these plants looks like bulbs with leaves stretching out from them like tentacles except contorted and twisting without rhyme or reason. The leaves are green until the plant matures, then they turn reddish purple. Bright yellow and red blooms give off purple flowers and turn this air plant into a rainbow display of colors. A cool feature of this plant is that new starts, or pups, can form right at the base and turn
a single plant into a clump of wonderful, colorful plants.

Tillandsia Bulbosa

Tillandsia Chiapensis

Growing like a small curious octopus exploring its surroundings, this air plants' pinkish-gray leaves look subtly stunning next to other more common green air plants. It has a velvet-like appearance and spreads to form a beautiful open rosette. It blooms red and pink and adds allure to any air plant display. This isn't as showy as some of my other favorites, however, not all plants have to be show-stoppers to be stunning.

The scope of air plants that are available to grace your house, office, and life is as diverse and special as you are. They are easy to add to existing plant displays or used to create a design all to their own. Either way, they are sure to inspire, encourage, and impress.

Tillandsia Chiapensis

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