Air Plants and their Origins

Ionantha Air PlantsGrowing up on a ranch in south Florida I was captivated by the beautiful air plants decorating the  oak and cypress hammocks. Like many people I assumed these air plants were found only in the South. I am now aware they can be found far and wide from the Southern U.S. to South America and everywhere in between.

Air Plants or Tillandsia include approximately 540 species and many more hybrid varieties. Air plants can be found in the swamps of Florida, the jungles of Costa Rica, arid deserts of South America and the high mountain regions of the Andes.

Most air plants can tolerate temperatures from the forties to the nineties and thus are found from sea level to high in the mountains. Tillandsia Usneoides or Spanish Moss can tolerate an even wider temperature range and withstand frost from freezing temps. Xerographica can withstand temperatures over one hundred degrees and needs less water than most air plants.

Air Plants of South America

Xerographica is endemic to Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala
Bulbosa air plants are associated with Belize and Guatemala
Spanish Moss inspires visions of Oak trees in the southern U.S. but also ranges far and wide through Mexico, Central and South America.
Most of the Ionantha air plants are native to Central America and Mexico.
Bergeri, Juncea and Stricta varieties are found in Brazil.
Funckiana and Paucifolia are natives of Venezuela.
Aeranthos, the “Carnation in Air”, can be found in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

With well over 500 species, air plants can be found far and wide in the New World. From sea level to high mountains they have adapted to many environments and climates. On your next trip to Latin America you may want to plan a hike to try to spot a few of these unique and exotic air plants in the wild.

For a more complete list of air plants and their origins you can refer to Wikipedia and their “List of Tillandsia Species” or the Bromeliad Society International at BSI.Org.

Our Air Plants Grab Bag page offers air plant collections from South America, Central America and Mexico.

Visit our Air Plants page to see our entire collection of air plants.

The Air Plants Gift page provides beautiful air plant display options & home decor.

plants are exotic, unique and easy to care for. They don’t require dirt
so the display options are almost endless. Air plants enjoy indirect
sunlight, need only occasional watering, get much of their nutrients
from the air and will help clean the air in your home.