I absolutely love Air Plants, but the Tillandsia xerographicas are my favorite by far! They can get quite large, up to 3’ across, and can live upwards of 40+ years! Fun fact! The ones we buy in the store are already around 5 years old!
The common name Air Plants can lead to a bit of confusion as to how to care for Tillandsias. Many people assume that they don’t need watering at all and get what they need from the air. In their native environments that would definitely be the case! But in our homes we gotta help them get what they need. Air plants in general are a bit different from your standard indoor plants. The biggest difference being the lack of roots and not needing soil or a pot. But like our other indoor plants they have similar care in some ways.
Light: Tillandsia like all other plants needs light, and xerographica likes more light than other airplants. I find mine to be happiest near a east facing window where they get some direct sun in the mornings.
Water: Watering your xerographicas will be a bit different from how you water your other houseplants, but like your other plants they definitely need to be watered! I water mine every 1-2 weeks by tossing them all into my sink for a 20-30 minute soak. If you are on city water you may want to use filtered water, use a aquarium conditioner, or even just toss them in your fish tank if you have one. After soaking it is very important to shake out as much of the extra water as possible to avoid rot. When you have shaken out all the water you can, place them upside down in a well ventilated area until they are fully dry, usually about 1-3 hours. Once dry you can place them back in their spot. If you feel your air is really dry you can mist them a couple times a week between waterings.
Fertilizing: You will want to find a air plant specific fertilizer since they are sensitive to certain ingredients. I found one on amazon that is meant for weekly use, so I have just been misting mine with it when they get done with their soak.
Propagation: xeros like all air plants produce offsets called pups in order to propagate themselves. Tillandsias will each bloom only once in their life cycle. That blooming means your plant will start the process of creating copies of itself in the form of pups before dying. Once your xero blooms just keep taking care of it while it forms it’s pups, which can take 6 months to 2 years after it blooms. Once the pups are of a good size use a sharp knife to remove them from the mother plant.
Toxicity: Tillandsia xerographica is not toxic to humans or pets. So no worries if you cat takes off with yours.