Tillandsia, also known as “air plants”, are fun and easy to grow. They don’t require soil, and since their leaves absorb water and nutrients from the air, they can be mounted on a wide variety of objects. Seashells, driftwood, corkbark, branches, rocks, hanging glass globes, magnets, and clay pottery, to name a few. The possibilities are endless.
The term ‘Air Plant’ is the common name for bromeliad species belonging to the Tillandsia species. They are native to the southern United States down through South America and can be found hanging to rocks, tree branches, and cliffs, in diverse environments such as deserts, forests, mountain ridges, and jungles.
Here are some easy care instructions to get you started:
Find a unique object to mount or place your air plant on. Once you’ve found your ideal container, simply attach your air plant by wiring the base of your plant with fishing line or thin coated wire, or by gluing with a non-toxic glue. The adhesive should be applied off-centre to the base of the plant so it doesn’t interfere with emerging roots. Over time, new roots may anchor themselves to rough surfaces. If you are using driftwood to mount your air plant on, it must be completely salt free, and be sure to use only bare, not treated wood.
Place your air plant indoors in a location with bright, filtered light and good air circulation. Indirect sunlight through a south or east facing window is ideal. If grown in a glass terrarium, the plants are susceptible to sun damage, so avoid direct sunlight and ensure there are holes for good air circulation.
Air plants can also be grown outdoors in a shady location during the warm summer months, but make sure you bring them in before it gets cool.
Watering your air plants is easy. Simply mist once or twice a week. If possible, soak your plant in lukewarm water for 15 minutes once per month. Water well, but don’t keep them damp. In dryer climates, more frequent watering may be necessary. If plants begin to look dehydrated, soak them in water for a couple of hours.
Tillandsias don’t need a lot of nutrients and fertilizers are not necessary for survival. Fertilizing, will, however, increase the growth of your plants. Once per month, you can apply orchid fertilizer or a general purpose fertilizer by spray or by soaking the plants in fertilized water. Use no more than ¼ teaspoon per gallon of water or ¼ the strength on the fertilizer container (whatever is less). When in doubt, use an organic fertilizer. Always use fertilizers sparingly.
An air plant only blooms once, and then slowly fades away after flowering. When this happens, an offset, or miniature plant, can develop off the main plant. They usually form around the base of the main plant when it has finished blooming. Simply break off the offset at the roots to form new plants, which will mature in about a year. The new shoots don’t have to be separated – they can simply be left intact and will eventually form into a beautiful cluster of plants.
For More Information
Interested in growing your own air plants? These unique and unusual plants are a delight to display in your home with minimal care. Come visit Art's Nursery to see our selection and talk to our knowledgeable staff. If you’re making a special trip, please call ahead to confirm availability: 604.882.1201.
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