What Are Aerial Plants? Complete Guide!

Most aerial plants grow in tropical and equatorial regions of our world. Some people call aerial plants “air plants” mostly because they absorb water and nutrients through the small hairs that are on their leaves from fog, rain, and even dust. But the real question is what are aerial plants?

Aerial plants are a type of plant that lives in the air or within the wind, the wind they live in provides them with water. Their roots are above the ground, and they use their roots to anchor to trees, rocks, sand, cacti, and wires however, they don’t need roots to survive.

Aerial plants grow on things that don’t hold water for very long or places that don’t have toxic substances that can affect them such as copper. They need soft water which means water that has less calcium in it and they live off a very little amount of nutrients. They thrive when there is good air movement and sunlight, to learn more about what aerial plants are keep reading below.

What Is an Example of an Aerial Plant?

Aerial plants are usually found in rainforests where they have to compete for sunlight and food which has led to their evolution. Some examples of aerial plants include:

  • Stag-horn fern
  • Mangrove trees
  • Green moss mushroom
  • Spanish moss
  • Ivy
  • Bromeliads
  • Pand
  • Banyan trees

Where are Aerial Plants Found?

Some Bromeliads are terrestrial, they grow in the ground or on the bark of trees. They absorb rainwater from the vase or in the case of the species Tillandsia they can absorb water through scurfy leaf surfaces. You can find aerial plants in garden centers such as Guzmania, Vriesia, Neoregelia, and other species that usually grow on the trees in the plant’s native region.

They come in pots of soil that drain really well. They can be found in the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Do Aerial Plants Have Roots?

Usually, when you buy aerial plants from commercial outlets they will cut the roots off of them before selling them to people. I’m not sure why they do this but they do have roots, they just have a very different function than the roots of other plants. Their roots are used to grab onto a host plant not using the host plant to absorb nutrients or water.

Their leaves have these specialized scales which are known as trichomes, they absorb water and nutrients to help keep the plant alive. These trichomes can either be smooth or hairy. Even though when you first purchase an aerial plant and its roots have been trimmed off, they will eventually grow back over time.


How Do Aerial Plants Grow?

Aerial plants are epiphytes, which means they are plants that have to attach themselves to other plants like trees for overall support but they don’t rely on the host to survive. They simply absorb the nutrients and water they need out of the air through their leaves.

How to Water Aerial Plants?

If you have aerial plants within your home you should know that they will need to be watered. Unlike the rainforest, your home’s environment is probably flooded with artificial heat and air conditioning so there isn’t a lot of water in the air for them to absorb. You can, however, bathe them by soaking them in a bowl of water that is room temperature for up to 6-12 hours.

If you do decide to bath your aerial plants make sure you only used filtered water or you can use tap water if you let the tap water sit for at least 24 hours so the chlorine in the water can dissipate. Refrain from using distilled water, it will likely kill the plants. Once you’ve watered your aerial plants you need to turn them upside down and shake off the excess water.

Then you should lay them on a towel in a sunlit area of your home, it should also be an area that has pretty good air circulation that way they can dry fully.

Read more: Can Air Plants Hang Upside Down? Explained for Beginners

What Are The Aerial Parts of Plants?

Aerial parts refer to the parts of the plants that are completely exposed to the air. No one can say whether or not a plant part is always aerial because it varies from plant to plant. Since leaves need to be able to form chlorophyll by absorbing sunlight they are always aerial.

Are Aerial Plants Easy to Take Care of?

Aerial plants are actually quite easy to take care of, mostly because they don’t require soil and they don’t have pests. You shouldn’t keep your aerial plant inside of a small glass globe or any kind of small enclosed space, they need to be exposed to the air.

You should know that aerial plants when kept indoors need to be spritzed with water a couple of times a week and you need to bathe them at least once a week for hours, just make sure you put them in a sunlit area so they can dry fully. If the base of the aerial plant stays wet for too long it will eventually begin to rot away and it will kill the plant.

How Much Light Do Aerial Plants Need?

You want to give them enough sunlight so that they bloom flowers. Just a few hours in the morning sunlight should be plenty enough light for them to thrive. Or if you put them outside in the summertime in the dappled shade they will also thrive because they love humidity. Just make sure you don’t expose them to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower temperatures.

In Summary

Now you should know what an aerial plant is and how to go about taking care of it. As long as you provide adequate sunlight, water, and air to your aerial plants they will thrive and stand out like the beautiful unique plants that they are. If you ask me aerial plants are one of the best kinds of plants to keep in the home. They are easy to take care of and they just look so neat you’re bound to get compliments on them.

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