tillandsia xerographica air plant on piece of wood with dark background

Do Air Plants Need Direct Sunlight: How Much & Best Placement.

Air plants are an easy and fun way to bring a touch of greenery into your home.

Air plants have been one of the biggest horticultural trends in recent years but they are sometimes known as being tricky to care for. 

Many of our customers often ask us, ‘do air plants need direct sunlight?’ 

So today in our helpful article we will answer that question once and for all. 

Generally, the best place to keep air plants thriving is where they have access to indirect sunlight or under a bright home or office lighting.

"Short periods of direct sunlight won't harm air plants but too much direct sunlight causes moisture depletion so misting them will help keep them hydrated."

Now we have a brief answer, so we can better understand whether air plants need direct sunlight. Let's discover a little more about these fascinating plants.

a variety of air plants sitting on flat wooden surface

What Are Air Plants? 

According to experts, air plants are  members of the Tillandsia family. 

There are a staggering 650 different species of Tillandsia. Air plants are an evergreen perennial plant native to Northern Mexico, Mesoamerica, south-eastern United States, the Caribbean, and through to Argentina. 

Their leaves contain specialized cells, scientifically known as trichomes, and are capable of rapidly absorbing water that gathers on them.

Air plants come in an array of beautiful colors, shades, and hues. Although a gorgeous pale green air plant is the ultimate in style, you can choose other colors to compliment your decor.

Where Do Air Plants Like To Grow?

Just because you might live in a different climate, doesn’t mean you can’t have air plants that will thrive. But here’s where they thrive natively, which gives you an idea of what sunlight conditions they’re used to.

variety of air plants growing on rock in natural setting

Air Plants In Their Native Environment 

As we’ve just seen, air plants live in warmer sub-tropical climates and are known as ‘air plants’ because they can live anywhere without the need for soil.

When growing in their native environment they cling on to a variety of natural and man-made elements such as: 

  • Bare rock 
  • Telephone wires 
  • Branches of trees 
  • Bark

Air Plants In Homes & Other Spaces

You can style air plants in an array of decorative air plant holders. 

They love to live in miniature terrariums, these wall mounted plant shelves shown below, or even on crystals, which can help brighten up blank wall space, home office, or garden room. 

air plants styled in wall mounted plant hangers above bed

Air plants are a perfect way to incorporate an element of nature and a splash color into any living or working space.

As we’ve seen, in their native environments air plants tend to live in hot or sub-tropical areas including deserts, so it’s not surprising that many of us wonder, do air plants need direct sunlight to survive. 

First, let’s find out whether it’s possible to grow them in the shade. 

Can Air Plants Live In The Shade? 

Although air plants thrive best in humid conditions, it is possible to have a healthy air plant in your home, commercial spaces, or indeed anywhere else in the shade. 

One of our best tips for promoting the health of your air plant is to submerge it in water completely for around half an hour, every other week or so. We have some additional air plant care tips here.

As long as they get some light, either indirectly from a window source, or artificially from fluorescent lights in an office or home environment they will thrive.

So you might also be wondering if there are any varieties of air plants that do stay healthy in direct sunlight, let’s find out below. 

Which Air Plants Survive In Direct Sunlight?

Although as we’ve discovered air plants stay healthier away from direct sunlight, there are some exceptions as with most rules!

Air plants of the silver-leafed variety are able to handle more direct sunlight. These air plants typically have thicker more hearty leaves.

For instance, the great Xerographica air plant is one of the few tillandsias that are able to tolerate full or direct sun. 

xerographica air plant on wooden branch with black background

It’s important to remember that they will be less able to tolerate full summer sun, but winter sun is ok.

Do also keep in mind you may need to water more frequently during its exposure to direct sunlight.

 "Air plants of the silver-leafed variety are able to handle more direct sunlight."

What Are The Best Conditions For Air Plants?

Although all plants need light and sun to survive, air plants will stay healthy for longer if you follow a few tips.

  • Bright but filtered light is best for air plants from April to October
  • Direct sun for certain varieties only during November - March.

As we’ve mentioned previously you will need to be cautious during the hotter summer months.

Along with sunlight, if you have air plants you will need to consider humidity.

If you keep your air plant outside, then there are other factors to take into consideration, such as reflections from light-colored buildings or metal fences.

It’s important to be mindful of windy conditions too. Warm or even hot winds can very quickly dehydrate the plants and cause more heat damage.

How Many Hours Of Sunlight Do Air Plants Need?

Air plants thrive and are happiest with at least a few hours of bright, indirect sun daily.

Placement within 1 to 3 feet of an east- or west-facing window, or within a foot or two of an artificial light source is ideal. If you keep them well watered, they can tolerate hotter, more direct sun, and longer exposure. Avoid dimly lit locations.

"Air plants thrive and are happiest with at least a few hours of bright, indirect sun daily."

Places To Put Air Plants

Did you know that air plants aren't only an uber-stylish way to bring some greenery into your home or office space, but they are also good for your health!

air plant styled in wall mounted air plant holder with cutting board and kettle below
Shop The Braid & Wood Plant Shelf

Air plants reduce carbon dioxide and increase levels of oxygen. They are a perfect plant to own if you, your family, or coworkers have an allergen.

So where is the best place to put your air plant so it avoids too much direct sunlight? 

It's important to keep them at temperatures you find comfortable without a sweater. Around 60 degrees and warmer is generally the best place for your air plant.

"Try to avoid placing them close to air conditioner vents and cold winter windows."

And Finally…

So we hope you have your answer as to whether your air plant will thrive, survive and keep healthy in direct sunlight! 

Don’t forget to check out our blog for more helpful articles and discover contemporary hanging shelves, beautiful suspended plant hangers, and more in our store.

Here at BRAID & WOOD Design Studio, we specialize in creating modern indoor plant hangers.

We are also proud of our award winning V-Hanger, best product in the category of Handmade Designer Maker for Summer 2021 NY NOW Awards, adjudicated by a well respected panel of industry leaders and pioneers.

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