Propagating Air Plants

Propagating Air Plants is a fun way to expand your collection and share plants with friends and family. The small offset plantlets produced by a mother plant are called pups. Many varieties of Air Plant will begin to die after they have produced pups and flowered. The death can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, allowing the new plants to grow big enough to survive when separated. Even the most inexperienced houseplant gardener can divide mother plants from their pups.


Methods To Propagate Air Plants

Although Air Plants will flower, oftentimes they do not set seed when grown as houseplants. Therefore seed propagation is not a recommended method for propagating Tillandsia. Instead, dividing the pups that grow from the mother plant is reliable and provides small plants that are genetically identical. 

Best Rooting Media To Propagate Air Plants

Air Plants do not grow in any kind of soil and will only grow in loose sand as a way to anchor themselves. The small pups that develop gather all of their nutrients and moisture from the air like the mother plant and can be grown in a new display or be left attached to the mother to create a larger display of plants.


Steps To Propagate Air Plants

Step 1 - Fertilizing Air Plants monthly with either a water-soluble Bromeliad or Orchid food will encourage plants to produce pups for propagation.

Step 2 - The pups will be produced at the base of the mother plant and may grow quite slowly. Use caution in the early stages while watering or handling the mother plant so as not to damage the pup.

Step 3 - Allow the pup to reach one-third the size of the mother before removing.

Step 4 - Simply cut the pup away from the mother with a sharp, sterilized knife. Cut cleanly down the division between plants, separating both plant bases.

Step 5 - Attach the new plant using wires, fishing line, or any other display method desired. 

Caring For Air Plant Cuttings

The pups of Air Plants are able to survive on their own once divided from the mother. No extra care will be needed. Normal watering and fertilizing can continue for the new plants.

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 Author Robbin Small - Published 3-22-2023