Tillandsia air plant species can range from the size of a dime to a basketball. Their varying shapes and versatile uses makes decorating with them a unique, fun and easy experience! Although all air plants will grow from either a seed or a pup, certain species will remain only a few inches tall for the remainder of their life cycle. The species described in this article are perfect for those looking for plants to display in small globe or teardrop terrariums or any mini decorative vessels. When picking out air plants, it is important to note the description sizes listed on all product pages! While some listings may have “small” or “large” in their title, the size is relative to the species themselves. For example, a large Ionantha will still be much smaller than a small Xerographica.
Possibly the most popular family of small air plants is the Ionantha species. These plants are about 1 to 3 inches tall with soft but pointed leaves. Indigenous to Mexico, Central and South America, the Ionantha species are prolific pup-producers and, when left to naturally multiply, will create clumps of multiple plants! Although similar in appearance, variation amongst the Ionantha species is typically due to elevation, climate and conditions in their various native regions.
1. Tillandsia Ionantha Mexican – Height: 1-2 inches
Small yet hardy, the Ionantha Mexican are known for their vivid red and orange blooms. Perfect for the busy air plant lover who can sometimes be forgetful with the care routine. Just give them a good soak and they will almost always bounce back! Leave the pups to multiply into tight-forming clusters.
2. Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra – Height: 1-2 Inches
The Ionantha Rubra present elegant and symmetrical rosettes with curving leaves. While in bloom, the plants show off shades of light pink and produce purple, crocus-like flowers.
3. Tillandsia Ionantha Scaposa – Height: 1-3 Inches
This Ionantha Scaposa – also known as 'Kolbii' – boasts an appealing mint green color. The leaf structure is more vertical and sometimes crescent-shaped. The Scaposa is a perfect fit for our funky wine magnets.
4. Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemalan – Height: 1-3 Inches
5. Tillandsia Ionantha Fuego – Height: About 1 Inch
These Ionantha are the most popular of the species probably because they blush a fiery red color that can last for several weeks. It’s no wonder how the plants get their name which means fire in Spanish! The Fuego are an ideal plant for small displays, namely the teardrop terrariums.
6. Tillandsia Argentea Thin – Height: 2-3 Inches
Our non-Ionantha plants start here! The Argentea Thin have wispy, needle-point foliage of a silvery, mint green color. Their unique structure consists of light, thin leaves which sprout from a round base. These small plants can be admired from all angles in clear, round terrariums.
7. Tillandsia Funckiana – Height: 3-5 Inches
Funckiana air plants have spiky leaves that grow from a woody base – almost like a mini pine tree. Bright red blooms appear on the ends of these twisting and curving, funky Tillandsia.
8. Tillandsia Tenuifolia – Height: 2-3 Inches
The Tenuifolia is another hardy favorite from Central America. This bushy air plant will alert you when it is thirsty by curling its leaves to protect against moisture loss. No need to worry! Once hydrated, the leaves will flatten out again showing off their bronze to beige-green color.
9. Tillandsia Filifolia – Height: 2-4 Inches
With a similar body shape to the Argentea Thin, the Filifolia also produce long, thin leaves with a darker base and forest green color. They too are wonderful glass terrarium plants.
10. Tillandsia Butzii – Height: Varies, can range from 2 to 10 inches tall
Our final small plant is different from all the others on the list! The Butzii have long, thin arms with a base of only about half an inch across. It can fit into small or narrow, open-top vessels or larger displays. This Mesic plant is one of a kind!
Want to learn more about the Ionantha species? Check out or Air Plant Highlight: Tillandsia Ionantha!
Can't decide which small air plant to order? Try our popular Air Plant Combination of 10 Plants – 5 Ionanthas and 5 Small Plants or Ionantha Small Plant Combination – Set of 5 Plants!