How to Care for Tillandsia Bulbosa: 7 Points Addressed

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant that’s sure to turn heads, look no further than Tillandsia bulbosa! This spiky little bulbous air plant may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to personality. Whether you’re a green thumb or a plant killer, Tillandsia bulbosa is easy to care for and can thrive with minimal attention.

This flexible plant is a real survivor – it can handle a range of temperatures, light conditions, and humidity levels. In fact, it’s so tough that it could survive a nuclear winter! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Tillandsia bulbosa is an epiphytic plant and doesn’t need soil to survive, which means you can get creative with how you display it. Hang it from the ceiling, perch it on a bookshelf, or tuck it into a decorative bowl – the possibilities are endless. Just don’t forget to give it a spritz of water every now and then to keep it hydrated.

I was feeling adventurous and tried propagating Tillandsia bulbosa to create a whole army of little spiky soldiers. It’s as easy as pie – just divide the air plant, sow some seeds, or take a cutting and let it root. Before I knew it, I had more Tillandsia bulbosas than I knew what to do with!

tillandsia bulbosa

Table of Contents

What Light Does It Require?

The bulbosa air plant requires bright indirect light to maintain its stunning appearance. Tillandsia bulbosa is native to tropical regions and is adapted to grow in the dappled light of forest canopies, which makes it well-suited for indoor environments with filtered sunlight.

If you notice your Tillandsia bulbosa leaves are looking a little scorched, it’s probably because the harsh rays of the sun have hit them. Try moving it to a new location where it receives ample shade or filtered light.

Consider placing the Tillandsia bulbosa near a bright window or under a grow light. East-facing windows are a good choice as they provide gentle morning light. When growing the air plant outdoors, choose a location that is covered. For example, a patio or shady spot under a tree. Remember that this is a tropical plant, so try to protect it from any cold spells.

colorful tillandsia bulbosa on wooden table

Does It Need Water?

As an air plant, the Tillandsia bulbosa has unique water features that differ from those of traditional potted plants. While it doesn’t need soil to grow, it does need regular moisture to survive.

One of the most important things to remember when watering the Tillandsia bulbosa is to avoid getting water on the leaves. This can lead to rot and damage to the plant. Instead, it’s best to mist the air plant or soak it in water for 20-30 minutes once a week- depending on the humidity levels in your home.

To soak the air plant, simply place it in a container of water deep enough to cover the base of the plant but not the leaves. First, allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes. Then remove it from the water and gently shake off any excess. Finally, allow the plant to completely dry before returning it to its display location.

If you prefer the misting method, then you can simply fill a spray bottle with room-temperature water and mist the plant’s roots several times a week. It’s important to ensure that the leaves are dry shortly after to prevent the risk of rot.

During the warmer months, the air plant may need to be watered more frequently. While in the cooler or more humid months on the other hand, it may require less water.

tillandsia bulbosa in sand on display

Can I Use Soil?

Because the Tillandsia bulbosa doesn’t require soil to grow, planting it in the soil can actually cause harm to this air plant. This is because it traps moisture and leads to rot. Tillandsia bulbosa obtains its nutrients and moisture through its leaves.

So how do you plant it? You may be wondering.

Well, you can mount it onto a piece of driftwood using a fishing line. Or alternatively place it in a special air plant holder that provides it with support and allows proper air circulation.

I have displayed my air plants on an old photo frame with chicken wire and combined them with shells and other natural findings to make a 3-dimensional collage.

If you do go down the mounting route, avoid using any adhesives that contain nasty chemicals or solvents that can harm the air plant. Despite its hardy appearance, it is a living being!

person holding tillandsia bulbosa in fingers

What’s the Best Temperature?

Tillandsia bulbosa is generally happy in the same temperature ranges as humans, between 60F (15C) and 80F (27C). However, it’s essential to keep the bulbous air plant away from drafts and sudden temperature changes, as it can be sensitive to cold temperatures.

Some places to avoid are those near air conditioning vents, heat sources, or drafty entrances or windows.

If you’re growing your air plant outdoors and experiencing cold winters, bring it indoors during this time. I protect it by covering it with a protective layer of clear plastic to prevent damage from freezing temperatures.

Is High Humidity Necessary?

Humidity is an essential aspect of Tillandsia bulbosa’s natural environment. In order for the plant to thrive, it needs a humid environment with enough moisture to keep its leaves from drying out.

pink tillandsia bulbosa growing on tree outside

In general, this plant prefers a humidity level of 50-80%. However, it can tolerate lower humidity levels as long as it is given regular misting or soaking to keep it hydrated. There are several things you can do to increase humidity around the plant:

  • Misting: Mist the plant regularly with a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water. This helps to keep the leaves moist and increases humidity around the plant.
  • Humidifier: Use a humidifier to increase the humidity levels in the room where the plant is located. This is particularly important in dry climates or during the winter months when indoor heating can cause the air to become dry.
  • Grouping: Place Tillandsia bulbosa near other plants or group it with a few air plants. This can help to create a more humid microclimate around the plant.
  • Tray of water: Place a tray of water near the plant to increase humidity levels. As the water evaporates, it helps to increase the moisture content of the surrounding air.

Should I Fertilize It?

While bulbosa air plants can survive without fertilization, occasional fertilization can help to promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage. Here are some tips to consider when fertilizing Tillandsia bulbosa:

  • Use a fertilizer specifically designed for air plants: Regular plant fertilizers can be too harsh for Tillandsia bulbosa and can damage its leaves. Look for a fertilizer specifically designed for air plants, which is formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients without harming the plant.
  • Dilute the fertilizer: Even with an air plant fertilizer, it’s important to dilute it to avoid over-fertilizing the plant. Mix the fertilizer with water at a ratio of 1:1 or even 1:2. Then use a spray bottle to mist the plant’s leaves.
  • Fertilize sparingly: Tillandsia bulbosa doesn’t require frequent fertilization. Apply the fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) and reduce or stop fertilization during the dormant period (fall and winter).
  • Apply the fertilizer correctly: To apply the fertilizer, mist the plant’s leaves with the diluted fertilizer solution until the leaves are lightly coated. Avoid spraying the fertilizer on the base of the plant, as this can lead to rot.

tillandsia bulbosa on black background

How Do You Propagate It?

The bulbous air plant can be propagated in several ways, including seed propagation and vegetative propagation. Here are some methods for propagating Tillandsia bulbosa:

Seed Propagation

Tillandsia bulbosa produces seeds that can be harvested and planted to grow new plants. To propagate using seeds, wait until the plant produces a flower. Then harvest the seeds once the flower has wilted. Sow the seeds in a well-draining soilless medium, cover them lightly with the medium. Finally keep them moist until they germinate.


Mature bulbosa air plants can be divided into smaller plants. To divide the plant, initially gently separate the pups from the mother plant once they are big enough to survive on their own. Plant the pups in a well-draining soilless medium, and keep them moist until they establish a root system.

Cutting Propagation

The bulbosa air plant can also be propagated by taking cuttings. To propagate using cuttings, first take a sharp, sterile knife and cut off a small section of the stem with leaves attached. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and plant the cutting in a well-draining soilless medium. Ensure to keep the cutting moist and warm until it establishes roots.

Propagating can be a delicate process. It’s important to handle the Tillandsia bulbosa with care to avoid damaging it. With proper care and attention, Tillandsia bulbosa can be propagated successfully and can produce many new plants for your collection.

tillandsia bulbosa's growing on wood on display

About Tillandsia Bulbosa

Tillandsia bulbosa is native to the tropical wet region of Central and South America and typically grows to be about 6 inches (15 cm) tall and 4 inches (10 cm) wide. However, it can vary in size depending on its growing conditions.

Tillandsia bulbosa is primarily used as a decorative plant. It can be displayed in a variety of ways, such as hanging from the ceiling or perched on a shelf. It can also be used in terrariums or other indoor garden displays.

This plant that looks like a sea creature is a member of the Bromeliaceae family. Itis an epiphytic plant, meaning it grows without soil. It has long, narrow tentacle leaves that curve inward to form a bulbous shape at the base. The leaves are green and may have a slight silvery sheen. When in bloom, Tillandsia bulbosa produces a vibrant pink or purple flower spike. Its unique shape and colorful flowers make it a popular choice among plant enthusiasts.


How do you take care of Tillandsia bulbosa?

By providing your tillandsia with the correct bright indirect lighting, temperatures ranging from 60 °F (15 °C) to 80 °F (27 °C), humidity levels of 50-80%, and water, you will ensure it has a happy, healthy life.

Is Tillandsia an indoor plant?

The tillandsia can be grown indoors or outdoors. If you are growing the tillandsia outdoors, it needs to be in a shaded spot where it is protected from the harsh sun’s rays.

Do air plants only bloom once?

Air plants only bloom once in their lifetime and once the flower spike finished blooming, you should remove it from the base of the plant to encourage new growth of pups (baby tillandsia plants).

How long does a Tillandsia plant live?

Tillandsia can generally live from 2-8 years, depending on the cultivar, environment, propagation methods, and care.

Should you mist air plants?

Misting air plants will ensure they have enough moisture in the air to survive. You can mist your air plants once every other day or more often during hot, dry conditions. Misting alone is not enough to hydrate your air plants, and they will benefit more from their roots being soaked in a bath of water.

Tillandsia Bulbosa: A Plant That Is a Cut Above the Rest

This fascinating and unique species is sure to capture the attention of any plant enthusiast. It’s the bulbous shape and colorful flowers that make it a standout addition to any indoor garden or open terrarium. 

Despite its exotic appearance, this plant requires little maintenance and is easy to care for, making it a great choice for both novice and experienced gardeners. Whether you choose to hang it from the ceiling or perch it on a shelf, the Tillandsia is a versatile plant that can be displayed in a variety of creative ways. 

So why not add one (or a few) to your collection and see for yourself what makes this little plant so special?

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Photo of author
Alex Tinsman
An avid plant and flower lover! Ever since he was little, plants, flowers, and shrubbery of all kinds filled his life. Alex credits this fascination with nature's beauty to his mother and grandmother who were - and still are - dedicated gardeners. It's now Alex's mission to pass that same love for plants onto others and show them it's as easy as pie to bring nature inside.

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