Air Plants and Their Once in a Lifetime Bloom


There’s something truly unique and interesting about air plants. Aside from not needing soil and living on another plant without being parasitic, air plants has another fascinating characteristic – they only bloom once in their lifespan.

Let’s get to know this aspect of an air plant’s growth further.

Inflorescence. An air plant’s “flower” is called an inflorescence. Air plants produce different types of flowers and they’re regarded for their unique form and color variety. The inflorescence is not the usual petal-adorned flower silhouette that we all know. It’s a stiff “stem” that shoots out from the center of the plant. 

These flowers that bloom directly from an air plant’s center come in various shapes, colors, forms.  Some air plants have an inflorescence where even more clusters of flowers bloom from its bracts. Others bloom with a single flower on a bud or short stem. Others have multiple blooms sticking out from their center and these bloom all at once.

How long it takes for an air plant to produce a flower depends on its species. Smaller air plants tend to have a shorter life cycle so they’ll bloom faster than larger, slow-growing air plants. The blooming period also varies and can take days to several weeks, to month. Air plants die after flowering and their death will signal the growth of “pups” or offsets.

Want to see an air plant blossom? There are things you can do to encourage an air plant to bloom. Increase the amount of light it gets but make sure you give only bright filtered light. One to three hours of direct morning sun is enough. It’s best to avoid direct midday sunlight. Giving fertilizer twice a month isn’t necessary but will be extremely helpful in encouraging an air plant to bloom.

How can you tell it’s blooming? Watch the color change. Most air plants turn a brighter color or “blush” when they’re blooming. Look at the center of the plant to see if an inflorescence begins.

Which air plants have the showiest blooms, you ask? Here are our favorites:

The T. aeranthos produce stunning blooms from its elongated inflorescence. The flowers are tiny, blue-purple in color, and have a similar appearance to fuchsia flowers. 

The T. bulbosa offers an interesting bloom. When flowering, the upper tentacle-like leaves turn red and from the central base grows a small red bract with purple-petal blossom.

The xeric T.concolor noted for the leaves’ firmness produce a red-and-green quill-like spike as its inflorescence. Magenta blooms sprout from this colored center.

Another xeric type of air plant that we adore is T.funckiana. Truly funky in appearance, this air plant features a light green cluster of needle-thin leaves. It produces a long tubular blossom in red and it emerges gracefully from the tip of the narrow leaves.

There’s also the xeric T.ionantha that starts as silver-green in hue and changes to pink-red at bloom time. Tubular purple flowers burst from this air plant’s red center.

The charming air plant has a lot more to enchant you. Full of personality and truly unlike any other, air plants are fun to collect and take care of. It may bloom only once but the blossom it will give you is definitely worth the wait. 


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