How to Care for Tillandsia Stricta – 3 Easy Ways To Propagate

The Tillandsia stricta is a bit of a rebel in the house plant world. It is not known to sit in a pot on your window sill; it’s a kind of plant that prefers to hang out in unexpected places. alls or even other plants! This little guy can survive without soil, making it an excellent plant for those who struggle to keep greenery alive.

different colors of tillandsia stricta in the garden

One of the most significant aspects of being a horticulturist is exposure to some of nature’s most wonderful creations like this beauty. When I got my hands on the Tillandsia stricta for the first time, I knew it would be a keeper! The soil-less living arrangement sparked creativity when deciding to display it, and now it’s grouped with my other air plants in an upcycled photo frame.

Whether you’ve heard of the Tillandsia stricta before or are scratching your head wondering what I’m talking about, buckle up as we dive into the world of this fascinating, versatile air plant.

Tillandsia stricta

Table of Contents

How Much Light Should I Give It?

sun shining on tillandsia stricta

As with most air plants, the Tillandsia stricta prefers bright indirect sunlight for 6-8 hours daily. Obviously, this can vary depending on the time of year, lighting in your home, etc. The best place to position your Tillandsia stricta is by a window where a sheer curtain or drape where it will receive bright filtered light. This will take the edge off the sun’s rays and prevent the leaves from scorching.

If you are still trying to figure out where to position it, you can try out a few areas to find its sweet spot. If you notice the leaves turn brown or yellow, it can indicate that it is receiving too much bright light. On the other hand, if the leaves start to turn pale and stretch, this can be due to a lack of sunlight. Suppose you have a collection of plants that need the same light; you could consider moving into a terrarium under a full spectrum of incandescent artificial light.

Terrariums look super cute, like a mini-functioning ecosystem. I recently upcycled an old fish tank that serves my plants well.

green background with tillandsia stricta flower

How Do I Water the Tillandsia Stricta?

Watering the Tillandsia stricta is a little bit different from watering most plants that are grown in soil. These plants get most of their nutrients and moisture from the air. That said, you can either mist it lightly a few times a week or give the roots a bath in water for about an hour once a week.

You don’t want to drown your Tillandsia stricta so make sure you shake off any excess water and let it air dry before placing it back in its pot. Avoid letting it sit in a water reservoir to prevent waterlogging, which will rot the roots.

When bathing the roots, ensure you use room temperature bottled water- not too hot or cold to avoid shocking the plant. Most air plants can tolerate two weeks without water. However, if left any longer, you run the risk of drought, which in turn will stress the plant.

Here’s a rundown on how to water your Tillandsia stricta:

  1. Firstly fill a basin or bowl with room-temperature bottled water- ensure it is deep enough to cover the root system. Bottled water is better than tap water as it prevents any compounds from building up on the plant.
  2. Then soak the root system for 60 minutes
  3. After removing, gently shake off any excess water
  4. Turn your Tillandsia stricta upside down and place it on a paper towel or kitchen towel.  Finally, let them drain and air out for an hour or two until they are completely dry.

side view of tillandsia stricta outside

Is Soil Necessary?

As the Tillandsia stricta is an evergreen air plant, it doesn’t need soil to grow- in fact, the soil will do it more harm than good. However, some substrates can be used to help position the plant in a pot or hanging basket.

You can opt for sphagnum moss, peat moss, coconut coir, or cork bark to help anchor the plant and retain moisture. If you opt for one of these substrates, make sure it is not soaking wet and avoid covering the base where the leaves meet the roots. This will allow the roots to breathe and gain oxygen.

My collection of air plants is displayed on an upcycled picture frame. I used fishing line and chicken wire to keep them in place. They thrive because they are surrounded by other plants, which help to keep the moisture in the air (more on that later).

What’s the Best Temperature for the Tillandsia Stricta?

Temperature is an important aspect to consider when keeping a tillandsia stricta. Aim to keep the Tillandsia stricta in a spot where the temperatures range from 60-80F (15-27C).

As the Tillandsia stricta is a tropical plant, temperature fluctuation can stress it out. Some signs that the temperatures are too cold are the leaves will blacken, turn brown, or it will stunt the plant’s growth.

Ideally, avoid placing it near drafty windows, air conditioning units, or entries where the cool air comes in for instance.

a bed of tillandsia stricta

What Humidity Is Necessary?

Native to the muggy tropical regions of South America, it’s no wonder this plant thrives in humid environments. Aim for a 50-60% humidity level to keep your air plants happy. This is a manageable challenge to achieve as most homes will be an average of 30-40% anyways.

The only challenge I have encountered with humidity is in the winter months- indoor heating can affect good airflow and dry the air out a bit.

I found some ways to combat this problem, and you can give them a go too:

  • Install a humidifier- these are cost-effective. Not only does it keep your plants happy, but they also provide us with excellent health benefits!
  • Misting- use a spray bottle with filtered water to mist the plants. This is effective in the short term, so you may need to do it often. Ensure you use filtered water to avoid any chlorine stains on the leaves.
  • Pebble Tray- you can place your Tillandsia stricta on a pebble tray with a small amount of water in it. The water will transpire and give moisture to the immediate area.
  • Terrarium-create a terrarium; naturally, these environments use a grouping method to create a microclimate for your indoor plants. The enclosed container traps moisture and creates a mini greenhouse effect.

leaves with one tillandsia stricta flower

Keep an eye on the leaves of the Tillandsia stricta; if they start to dry out, it can be a sign of low humidity levels. On the other hand, if the plant is too moist, it will cause the leaves to become mushy and rot.

Once you’ve got the levels right, it’s pretty easy. I use a humidifier in my home during the winter. It’s been a godsend for my plants and adds a little therapy for me too!

What Fertilizer Is Best?

Even though the Tillandsia stricta plants absorb nutrients from the air, providing them with a little feed up now and then can promote healthy growth and blooming. Use a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium); you can find a fertilizer specifically for air plants at your local gardening store or online.

Tillandsia species can be a bit sensitive to fertilizer, so it is important not to overdo it. Over-fertilizing them will cause leaf burn, root damage, and stunted growth. To avoid these problems, always follow the recommendations on the pack, and if in doubt, use half its strength to see how your plant reacts. If you notice any of the signs of over-fertilizing, such as brown or dried-out leaves, you can rinse the plant to remove the excess fertilizer.

When I fertilize my air plants, I remove them from the frame they are mounted on, and at the same time, as they need watering, I spray 4 sprays into their water that they soak in once a month. Most air plant fertilizers will come in a spray bottle, and you can spray their leaves once a month.

What Is the Best Way to Propagate?

hand holding a blooming tillandsia stricta

Propagating plants is a priceless skill, and you can create so many more green babies to share around! Tillandsias can be propagated by following a few different methods, including seed propagation, division, and pups (word for babies).

My favorite method of propagating is taking the pups from the mother plant. Root division is a delicate job for my heavy hands, and seed propagation is time-consuming for me.

I will go through the methods of each with you so you can make the decision to suit:


You can do this if the Tillandsia stricta has developed a clump of multiple plants from the base.

Firstly, you need to take a sterile sharp knife. Secondly, gently separate the roots by pulling them apart.

After that, use the knife to cut a healthy root system and leaves from the mother plant.

Finally, you have a separate baby air plant. You can plant it in a new container; just be sure to give it the same care and attention as the mother plant for it to thrive.

Offsets/ Pups

Tillandsia stricta plants are similar to cacti as they also produce new air plants called pups from the base of the parent plant. This is my preferred propagation method as it doesn’t risk interfering with the healthy root system.

Pup removal can be done when they have grown to about a third of the size of the mother plant.

Use a sharp pair of scissors or knife and cut the pup off the mother plant. You need to cut as close to the base as possible.

Sometimes pups can remove themselves, and they are pretty easy to detach. No stress if the pup doesn’t have its own root system. Over time, you will notice roots emerge from the base as the baby plant looks for air and humidity.

up close view of tillandsia stricta flower

Seed Propagation

Propagating Tillandsia from seed is a test of patience, really- it can take up to 5 years to get a fully mature plant! When the Tillandsia stricta flowers bloom, you will need to pollinate them using a fine artist’s paintbrush to shake the pollen around the flower. After a few months, the flower will produce seeds you can collect.

Alternatively, you can buy a pack of seeds online or at your garden store. To sow the seeds, you must soak them overnight to help them germinate.

After you have soaked them, place them on a layer of peat moss. Ensure the seeds are not touching so they have good air circulation to germinate.

Then mist the seeds using a spray bottle and keep them in the same condition as the mother plant. They can take up to a month to germinate, so patience is the key!

Tillandsias are slow growers, so the new plants can take some time. But having a collection of these beauties will be worth it in the long run!

tillandsia stricta outside in the garden

What Are Some Pests That Can Occur?

One of the main pests that attack the Tillandsia stricta is mealybugs, who tend to feed by sucking the sap out of the plant. You can use an insecticidal spray or neem oil solution to combat a mealybug infestation.

Mix a teaspoon of neem oil with four drops of dishwashing soap and 1 liter of water. Spray the Tillandsia stricta once weekly; the numbers will reduce and eventually disappear.

Air plants are usually susceptible to pests and diseases when kept in the dark or consistently damp. Ensuring the Tillandsia stricta is kept in the proper environmental conditions will prevent any pest risk.

Are They Toxic?

The great news is that Tillandsia stricta is non-toxic to pets and humans. So, if you witness your furry friends take a nibble on your air plant, there is no need to panic. That said, you don’t want to harm your plant, so keep it out of the way to avoid it becoming a snack!

tillandsia stricta on tiles

About Tillandsia Stricta

This hardy air plant originates from the areas of Northern Argentina, where it can be seen growing on sand dunes and in trees. It belongs to the Bromeliacae family, which has over 3000 species. That makes the Tillandsia stricta a cousin of the pineapple!

Tillandsia stricta isn’t just easy to care for; it also displays eye-catching beauty! The long slender leaves come in shades of green, yellow, and pink and grow in an arching pattern that curls at the tips. Let’s not forget about the Tillandsia stricta blooms, vibrant pink or purple flowers that add a pop of color to any room. The air plant (common name) can reach 15cm high and 10cm across when matured. It’s a small plant but cleverly compact enough to make a statement.

FAQ Tillandsia Stricta

How do you take care of Stricta Tillandsia?

Take care of the stricta Tillandsia by providing a temperature range of 60-80F (15.5-26 C). Keep your stricta tillandsia in bright indirect light with 50-60% humidity. Water the air plant once a week in a bath of room temperature water and apply a balanced fertilizer once a month.

How often should Tillandsia be watered?

Water your Tillandsia once a week by soaking the roots in a bath of room-temperature filtered water.

What happens to Tillandsia after flowering?

Flowering signifies the end of the Tillandsia stricta lifecycle. Unfortunately, the air plant will die after blooming, but any new pups that have developed will continue to mature.

What is the lifespan of Tillandsia?

The average lifespan of the Tillandsia is between two and five years, depending on the growing conditions and propagation method.

Can Tillandsia survive winter?

Because Tillandsia is a tropical plant, they prefer temperatures of 60-80F (15-26C). They can withstand temperatures as low as 45F (7C) but should be protected from frost and consistently low temperatures. 

Tillandsia Stricta: The Perfect Houseplant for the Busy, Yet Stylish Plant Lover

All in all, the Tillandsia stricta plant is a real showstopper. With its eye-catching green and silver foliage and delicate, tubular flowers, it’s sure to be a conversation starter wherever you place it. 

Plus, this air plant is a breeze to care for – just give it a mist or a soak once a week, and it will thrive. 

This little beauty is just the ticket if you want to add a touch of tropical flair to your home or office. So why not give it a go? You won’t regret it!

Are You Feeling Green-Fingered but Stuck in a Concrete Jungle?

Let us know your thoughts and feedback – here. We love to discuss anything plant related!

Branch out and embrace your inner air plant parent! Our site is blooming with a variety of plant info that will help you take care of the plants in your office or home. We won’t leaf you high and dry- we will guide you through every step of the way to keep your plants looking perfect. 

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.

Make Your Leafy Dreams Come True :)

If you want to start your plant journey on the right foot, you need the best quality plants, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. Check out the most popular and unique plants available from Léon & George, the most reputable folks in the plant world. Click below! 

Leave a Comment