Most microorganisms of the phyllosphere are nonculturable in commonly used media and culture conditions, as are those in other natural environments. This review queries the reasons for their ‘noncultivability’ and assesses developments in phyllospere microbiology that have been achieved cultivation independently over the last 4 years. Analyses of total microbial communities have revealed a comprehensive microbial diversity. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and metagenomic sequencing were applied to investigate plant species, location and season as variables affecting the composition of these communities. In continuation to culture-based enzymatic and metabolic studies with individual isolates, metaproteogenomic approaches reveal a great potential to study the physiology of microbial communities in situ. Culture-independent microbiological technologies as well advances in plant genetics and biochemistry provide methodological preconditions for exploring the interactions between plants and their microbiome in the phyllosphere. Improving and combining cultivation and culture-independent techniques can contribute to a better understanding of the phyllosphere ecology. This is essential, for example, to avoid human–pathogenic bacteria in plant food.