How to Grow Tillandsia Kolbii

These air plants require no soil

Tillandsia kolbii close up with purple bloom

James Ho / wikimedia commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

In This Article

No potting soil? No problem. You don’t need soil to keep your home full of gorgeous houseplants. Meet Tillandsia kolbii, a variety of air plant.

These plants actual absorb nutrients and water through their leaves, not their roots. Because of this, they don’t have big root systems like the usual houseplant. These plants can be set wherever you’d like a little greenery, no pot needed. In fact, you can even hang them.

The Tillandsia kolbii has compact, fuzzy leaves that are a soft green color. With proper care, they may also produce beautiful, unique blooms in red, orange, or purple.

Botanical Name Tillandsia kolbii
Common Name Air plant
Plant Type Houseplant or annual
Mature Size 1 to 3 inches
Sun Exposure Bright, indirect light
Soil Type Not applicable
Soil pH Not applicable
Bloom Time Once, when fully matured
Flower Color Red, orange, or purple
Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, USA
Native Area Mexico and Guatemala

Tillandsia Kolbii Care

Caring for these plants is a breeze. Choose an area with bright, indirect lighting and good airflow to keep your Tillandsia kolbii the happiest. The biggest thing they require is regular watering. How do you water a plant with no soil, you may ask? Regular misting is a wonderful way to keep your plants humid.

With proper attention and care, your Tillandsia kolbii may even bloom. These amazing little plants only bloom once in their lifetime, and the process may take years.

Once they are mature, they will produce pups. These are new little air plants that will pop out of the base of the mother plant. You can either leave these attached so they slowly grow a huge connected colony of air plants, or remove them to create more plants to spread around. Occasionally, mealybugs and scale may pose pest problems.

Light

Tillandsia kolbii, like most air plants, loves bright, indirect lighting. Despite being native to Mexico and Guatemala, too much sunshine can actually harm or burn the plant. Signs of too much sun include burn marks or red-tipped leaves. The red coloring is caused by stress.

Soil

The name “air plants” has become a popular way to describe plants belonging to the Tillandsia family because they don't need to be grown in soil.

Instead, just set your Tillandsia kolbii wherever you’d like to add a little greenery. Whether that be your desk, atop a decorative piece of driftwood, or even in a hanging terrarium. In warm areas, these plants can even be grown outside and make a wonderful addition to your porch décor.

Water

Unlike most houseplants, the Tillandsia kolbii cannot be watered in the usual fashion. To give your air plant the water it needs, soak it in a bowl of water for 10 to 30 minutes every week or two. If your air plant is blooming, be sure to keep the delicate flower above the water during a soak to avoid damaging it.

Once you remove your air plant from the water, tip it upside-down to let the excess water drain from its foliage, and then return it to its display area. Let your air plant dry completely before the next soaking session. This will help avoid problems with rot.

Make sure to use clean water, like spring or filtered water. If you must use tap water, let it sit for at least 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate.

Temperature and Humidity

Tillandsia kolbii loves humidity. Regularly misting it will provide the humidity and moisture that it needs. In drier areas, you may need to mist your air plant daily. In more humid areas, you may only need to mist it every three days or so.

These plants also love warmer temperatures. However, avoid placing them near heating or AC units. Too much heat or cold can damage the plants. Placing them in a well-ventilated area with bright indirect sunlight is ideal.

Fertilizer

Because air plants do not have soil, you will need to fertilize during their monthly soak by adding it to the water. Using a fertilizer designed for air plants is best.

However, fertilizer is not a huge need for these little plants. They will grow wonderfully even without additional feeding. Too much fertilizer can even kill your Tillandsia kolbii.

Propagating Tillandsia kolbii

Propagating an air plant is fun and easy. In fact, your air plant will tell you when. These plants create what are known as “pups” once they are mature. These pups are new air plants. Once your Tillandsia kolbii is mature and producing pups, here is how to remove them.

1. Wait until your pup is at least a third of the size of the mother plant.

2. Locate the base of the pup.

3. Gently pop the pup off the mother plant. Be sure to grip the pup at its base leaves so no tearing occurs on its top leaves. If the pup does not easily pop off, a sharp knife or pair of snips may be needed to trim the pup from the mother.

4. Once the pup is detached, place it in a well ventilated, bright spot of its own.

Before you know it, you’ll have a whole family of air plants. Don’t be discouraged if you do not see pups for some time, though. Air plants can take years to bloom and produce pups. Patience is key.