The Air Plant Life Cycle

Blooming I. Rubra Tillandsia by PASiNGA
Blooming I. Rubra Tillandsia


Tillandsias or Air Plants are tropical plants that usually live for several years however will bloom and produce flowers only one time during their lifetime.

The flowers are striking and brilliantly colored, and the bloom period will last from several days to many months, depending on the species. Take the Rubra on the left for example, we are about 2 months in and the blue flower is not fully grown yet. Have a look below and find it a bit further along. The C. Medusae, 2nd picture below, is about 4 months into the process and the dark blue to purple flowers have yet to grow out of the pink capsules. Different species bloom at different times, also depending on their care and environment. Although I have seen it happening all year around it is said that a plant will most likely go into bloom sometime between mid-winter and mid-summer.

Tillandisa I. Rubra Pups by PASiNGA
I. Rubra Babys

Each pup will follow the lifecycle by growing into a parent plant, blooming and producing pups of it's own.

If you require pups for your project please feel invited to get in touch as I will often be able to help. 




Air Plants will produce offshoots, or "pups." You'll notice the pups have a separate and distinct center of their own, distinguishing them from the other leaves. Once the pup reaches at least one-third of the size of their parent plant, the pup can be removed by gently pulling it apart from the parent. Some recommend to use knifes, however I found the pulling apart after the plant has been watered was the kindest method for the parent and pup plant to be separated. Hold both the parent and the pup at their bases and gently twist in a downward motion. 

Tillandsia C. Medusae Pups by PASiNGA
C. Medusae Pups


Tillandsia I. Rubra Clump by PASiNGA
I. Rubra Clump

Well, if you leave the pups to grow on the parent plant the Air Plant will create a clump. The alternative and often faster way to create a clump is by wiring multiple plants together. They will begin to grow into and around each other.

Often clumping is also found on permanently mounted Air Plants. You can mount Air Plants to almost any surface for display as they do not require soil to grow and thrive. 


C. Medusae growing pups by PASiNGA
C. Medusae growing pups

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Comments: 2
  • #1

    B (Thursday, 07 November 2019 16:32)

    If a plant bears seeds, does that happen before or after pups form, following bloom?

  • #2

    Antje PASiNGA (Wednesday, 29 January 2020 17:34)

    Hello B - the pups grow usually before and during blooming. An Air Plant often dies after it has also grown seeds and opened its capsule.
    I hope that helps, best wishes!