If you don’t have the time or space for traditional plants, air plants might be exactly what you need. Here are five reasons why they’re perfect for anyone—even serial plant killers.
1. Air plants are low-maintenance and need no soil.
Their preferred climate is humid (they’re native to Central and South America, the West Indies, and the Southern US), meaning they thrive in the DC area’s higher-than-average humidity during warmer seasons. Indoors, they’ll do well in steamy bathrooms.
They require minimal light and water, and grow by taking nutrients from the air, not soil—hence their name. If your home environment doesn’t offer enough humidity, you can soak the plants in water every couple of weeks.
Soil and potting can be messy, but these guys can simply sit atop a countertop, offering a no-mess solution for bringing nature inside.
2. They’re great for people of all ages and backgrounds.
While air plants may seem as though they were made for millennials and their stereotypically short attention spans, their easy upkeep and varying sizes make them “one size fits all.”
Nicole Laemers, director of experience and visual merchandising for Salt & Sundry and Little Leaf, says air plants are particularly good for beginners. “We even have some little 8-year-old kids come in to buy their first plants,” she says. “Their parents let them take care of an air plant, and it’s super adorable.”
Another adorable aspect of the plants is that they produce “pups.” You can remove them from the source plant so they can grow separately and sprout their own families.
3. They’ll add a unique aesthetic to your home.
Busy city dwellers in the District can spruce up their tight quarters or yardless abodes with a multitude of air plant species. Among the most popular are xerographica, Spanish moss, and bulbosa.
Hang them from the ceiling in little circular terrariums, make them the centerpiece of your dining room table, even use Spanish moss in place of a bathroom curtain, as Laemers says one of her clients has done. They’re living decor for all the lifeless spaces you can think of.
According to Andrea Neal and Jym Wilson, lawn and garden associates at Annie’s Ace Hardware in Petworth, house stagers have also taken to purchasing air plants as a quick way to liven up real estate.
4. They travel well.
The plants are easy to take from one location to the next without the worry of them dying on the way—which is particularly good for students and 20-somethings with less-than-permanent addresses.
Urban Jungle owner Cody Alexander says air plants are perfect for people who live in DC because of the transient nature of the city.
“Everybody here is always on the go,” Alexander says. “If you move, you can take them with you—it’s not like you’re trying to haul a palm tree.”
5. They can live for a decade.
Don’t worry: You won’t necessarily kill an air plant if you occasionally forget it exists. They can live for weeks without water, and once you remember to give it attention, a good 20- to 30-minute soak will replenish it. Some species can survive for 10 years or more. There are hundreds of variations within the air plant genus, so whether you’re looking for a short-term or long-term commitment, you’re bound to find one that’s best for your living situation.