Air Plants in Bathrooms: The Perfect Place for Tillandsia?

Bathrooms get hot and steamy, not the healthiest environment for many houseplants. But not air plants; these unique and fascinating plants thrive in moderate to high humidity conditions. Bathrooms aren’t just a good place to show off your collection of air plants; they are probably the BEST place for them.

Use air plants to create an oasis of calm or a rain forest theme in your home. Combine them with other humidity-loving plants such as bamboo, succulents, English ivy, and aloe vera for jaw-dropping, lush interior design.

Encourage everyone to shower and bathe often; the steam created quenches thirsty plants.

What are Air Plants?

Air plant is the common name for the genus Tillandsia, part of the Bromeliad family.

They are native to Mexico, South-East United States, Meso-America, parts of the Caribbean, and Argentina. They thrive in forest, desert, and mountain regions.

One thing most of these regions have in common is moderate to high humidity.

There are 650+ species, none of which need soil to grow. They get nutrition and water by absorbing it through their leaves. A series of hair-like cells called trichomes cover every leaf; each is a minute reservoir to hold the moisture until the plant needs it.

They also help to deflect intense sunlight to protect the plant.

These epiphytic plants anchor themselves to trees, rocks, and cliffs; however, they are not parasitic and drain nothing from their host.

Air Plants in Bathrooms

air plants in bathrooms

We have established that an air plant’s native climate is often humid; there is no other room in the house that assimilates these conditions better than the bathroom.

The steam emanating from hot showers and baths creates prime conditions for Tillandsia. They absorb and store much more moisture than they would from any other room in the house.

Most bathrooms are relatively small rooms with frosted windows. Not only does the glass provide privacy, but it also diffuses the sunlight. All air plants need light to grow; most thrive in indirect light.

Bathrooms also provide a perfect habitat for those humidity-loving air plants that require less air circulation and lower light conditions. They are usually the species that grown in the shade of tree canopies.

Air Plants Species That do Best in Bathrooms

Of the 650+ species of air plants, almost all thrive in bathrooms. Any room that gets hot and steamy satisfies the needs of most Tillandsias.

The types that fair best of all come from the most humid regions of South America and Mexico.

Tillandsia Andreana

The andreana air plant loves the high humidity created by a hot and steamy bathroom.

It also needs bright light, but it has to be indirect. Ideal spots are near a windowsill with frosted glass or in a room where the light is on for long periods.

They are very striking air plants; they have a spiky pom-pom form. As their leaves grow, they get more chaotic and curly.

Tillandsia Recurvata

tillandsia recurvata
T. recurvata growing outdoors

The recurvata is commonly known as ball moss due to the somewhat spherical shape it takes on.

It is native to Argentina and Chile, where it grows contentedly in the shade of the rainforests beneath the canopy of the trees.

Bathrooms replicate these conditions well, especially if they have little natural light and poor airflow.

Use the shower frequently to keep the humidity levels high as the plant is very thirsty and needs lots of water.

Tillandsia Bulbosa

tillandsia bulbosa

Not only do bulbosa air plants love the atmosphere in a bathroom, but they look like they belong there. They are compact; rarely grow bigger than 4-inches. Their long, curly tendrils make them look like sea creatures, perfect for themed rooms.

They don’t need massive airflow and suit smaller bathrooms; however, they enjoy plenty of indirect sunlight. Situate them near a frosted glass window to see them thrive.

They bloom in magnificent shades of violet, red, and plum before reproducing several pups.

They suit terrariums and bottled gardens but must be removed to dry out after a thorough soaking. Any Tillandsia species with a bulbous core can hold onto stagnant water and rot if left wet.

Ideas for Displaying Air Plants in Bathrooms

Anyone can put an air plant on a windowsill in a bathroom and wait for it to grow. With some thought and ingenuity, you can turn the small plants into a design feature, the envy of all who see them.

  1. Create a frame. Using scrap wood, form a frame around mesh or chicken wire. Paint the wood to complement the bathroom’s color scheme, and tuck the air plants in the sections, leaving a little space for them to grow. Mount it to a wall to bring a tropical paradise into your home. Ready-made Tillandsia frames are available and relatively inexpensive.
  1. Suspend them from the ceiling. Group several air plants and use nylon fishing wire to hang them at different intervals. You can also hang small pots, vases, shells, etc., and glue the air plants to them. Tillandsias with clumps of pups look spectacular displayed this way.
  1. Wall suction cups work well on tiled surfaces. Either bond the plant directly to the hook or use it to attach small vases, corks, marbles, or containers to dot air plants all around the space.
  1. Use bottled gardens and small terrariums to display your humidity-loving air plants. Ensure they are not in contact with direct sunlight.
  1. Be creative and make mirror and picture frames with a selection of air plants. If the bathroom is themed, use the plants to enhance it. Shells, sand, pebbles, cacti, and rocks suit jungle, beach, or desert themes.

Watering and Fertilizing Bathroom Air Plants – Is it Necessary?

air plant fertilizer

Air plants need more than air to survive; they need light, warmth, food, and water. Tillandsias in the wild get most of their survival needs from the humidity in the air.

Indoors, we replace that with frequent misting, dunking, and soaking in water to supplement their needs.

Bathrooms have significantly higher humidity levels than the rest of the house, so air plants kept there receive more water and are, therefore, easier to maintain.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate additional deep watering sessions from time to time. Air plants tell their owners if they’re dehydrated; their leaves turn brown and brittle. In many species, they become much curlier.

Always ensure air plants are fully dried before returning them to their display; pooling water is one of the biggest killers. Place them in a colander or on paper towels in a well-aerated room for a few hours.

Tillandsias displayed in steamy bathrooms enjoy a booster feed occasionally. Specialist Bromeliad food is readily available. Mist the plants once a month to encourage blooming and reproduction.

Final Thoughts

Air plants in bathrooms are the dream team. There is no soil to create any mess, they require less upkeep, and they turn a dull room into a tropical oasis.

If you have ailing air plants, move them into the bathroom for a few days to aid their recovery; you may never take them out again when you see how they flourish.

Anthony Marsh
Anthony Marsh is a writer with deep roots in the soil of western New Hampshire. His first experiences with gardening were at the age of 10 where his parents allowed him to plant and cultivate his first vegetable garden. Twenty years later he’s continued with his passion for gardening and actively rescues abandoned plant life.