Most air plants are part of the genus Tillandsia, with the majority of varieties being part of the Bromeliaceae family (Bromeliaceae), just like the pineapple.
These tropical plants typically grow in humid regions, such as rainforests, in many parts of the world. Air plants can be found in Central and South America, as well as the West Indies, Mexico, and even parts of the southern United States. In the wild, you can find them growing in trees and crevices, as well as on rocks and cliffs.
Most air plants are epiphytes, meaning they depend on hard surfaces for stability but don’t need soil for nutrients. Indeed, “their leaves are covered with tiny hair-like structures called trichomes that help them absorb nutrients and moisture from the air,” says Lindsay Pangborn, gardening expert at Bloomscape.
Despite their name, these plants do not live on air alone. When you keep them as houseplants, you will also need to water them.