There are 450 different varieties of air plants (Tillandsia), which are exceedingly unusual. Because they fall under the bromeliad family, which includes 3,475 primarily tropical plant species, air plants are linked to pineapples. They reside in various parts of the world, from the southern US to the top of Argentina. Xeric and mesic air plants are the two primary varieties. Compared to its tropical cousins, Xeric Tillandsia can survive in desert climates with less water and more sunlight (mesic Tillandsia).
In order to collect water that collects at their base, air plants attach their roots to other plants, rocks, and trees. For instance, in a tropical environment, they reside in the trees where they absorb water from the humidity and water that accumulates on the branches of the trees. They enjoy temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit because they are accustomed to the rainforest and warm desert climate (1032 C). While xeric Tillandsia favour dry air, mesic Tillandsia prefer humid air. There are techniques to recreate that atmosphere, and air plants are fairly hardy, so don’t worry if you don’t live in a region with their ideal circumstances.
They are available in a wide range of colours and sizes. Sizes of different air plant species range from two inches to seven feet. The sizes of the types that are often found in stores range from two to five inches. There are certain types that produce blooms, but this typically means that the plant’s life cycle is about to come to an end. Before they pass away, air plants discharge pups, which are young air plants that develop into identical adults. To find out more about growing additional air plants from the original seedling, see the propagation section.
How high can air plants get?
Despite having an alien appearance, air plants are indigenous to the Americas and can be found from southern United States to Argentina. In the wild, they hang from tree bark using their roots to feed on bird droppings and rainwater that they have absorbed through their leaves. The air plant, commonly known as a Tillandsia, is one of more than 600 species and variations.
They typically feature rosette-shaped leaves that resemble straps, with new growth emerging from the plant’s centre. Some plants have flowers that are red, pink, or purple and endure for a few days to a few months. The leaves can be silver, green, prickly, or fuzzy. The majority of air plants are small, growing 2″ to 12″ tall.
How many years can air plants live?
Perennial plants are tillandsias, also referred to as air plants. According to the source, they have a lifespan of between two and five years, which indicates that they normally survive longer than two years.
The type of air plant and the growing conditions have an impact on how long they live, though. They reside in deserts, on various surfaces, and on tree branches in their natural habitat (other surfaces they can grow on).
Air plants only experience one flowering during their existence, which marks the culmination of their development and maturity.
Depending on the species, the flowers might remain in bloom for a number of months. However, the air plant will begin to die when the blossoms start to wilt and fade. Air plants develop pups or offsets before they die to carry on the same growth cycle.
Despite the mother plant dying, you can take the pups out and raise them separately. Separating the pups from the mother is referred to as “division is a method of air plant propagation.
As an alternative, you might leave those puppies grouped together ” (also known as “tillandsia balls).
What is the growth rate of air plants?
Air plants can be divided into two categories: mesic and xeric. These classifications distinguish tillandsias from two quite different types of habitats. Xeric tillandsias often develop more slowly than air plants from the mesic group.
Tillandsias that are xeric grow in hot, dry conditions naturally. They appear fuzzy because they have more trichomes, which are holes on leaves that absorb water.
Since there is less water available in hotter settings, larger and denser trichomes enable them to absorb more water. They shield against the damaging effects of direct sunlight as well. These factors contribute to the slower metabolism and slower growth of xeric air plants.
On the other hand, mesic tillandsias are native to regions with regular rainfall and generally high humidity. They lack the silver/white fuzz, have less noticeable trichomes, and have a greener appearance.
Tillandsias from xeric regions have adapted to survive under these conditions. They require a lot of indirect sunlight at home (some may survive a few hours of direct morning or afternoon sunshine every day), as well as regular watering. Mesic tillandsias, however, require more frequent watering. They often develop more quickly than air plants in the xeric group.
Reason #2: Air plants are slow growers
Air plants develop slowly; in fact, they are among the slowest growing plants. It takes at least a month or two for air plant seeds to germinate, and another four to eight years for them to grow into full plants. For the first two to three years or so, their growth will be very sluggish.
Most people use pups to propagate air plants, however even pups take 2-4 years to develop. When you purchase medium-sized air plants, they frequently grow for a short time before giving birth to puppies (offsets). Pups eventually grow into independent plants and can be cut off from the parent plant when they are half as big.
The parent plant will blossom for the first (and only) time at this time, and then it will start to produce pups. Your tillandsia will be ready to reproduce at this point. The parent plant begins to deteriorate after producing pups.
If you keep the parent plant and don’t separate the pups from it, it will eventually grow into a lovely cluster. Just consider the fact that after a few years of growing, plants only ever bloom once. The parent plant then gives birth to pups, at which point its existence is done.
It will take between 12 and 16 months for a newly purchased plant to show noticeable growth. You should notice blossoming in one to three years.
Spring through mid-summer, followed by early fall through late autumn, are the warmest times for air plant growth. During the winter and the height of the summer, they won’t grow much if at all.
Reason #3: Lack of care
Despite their hardiness and low maintenance needs, air plants still need to be cared for. They need a lot of direct and indirect light, as well as watering (yes, tillandsias love water and cannot thrive without it). Additionally, your air plant won’t grow or thrive at all without adequate air exchange, hydration, and light.
A lot of light is needed for air plants, most often filtered light. Avoid subjecting them to intense direct sun for more than a couple of hours each day; doing so will burn the plant.
Air exchange is crucial as well.
Ensure that the room is ventilated once every day. If you’d like, you can also take your plants outside for a few hours each day (or at least few times a week). But don’t leave them in the air conditioning.
Watering is yet another crucial component. Watering air plants frequently is necessary. Less irrigation is needed for xeric air plants compared to mesic air plants.
During the warmer months, deep water your plants for an hour once every 10 days for xeric plants and once a week for mesic plants. Because they are prone to decay, certain plants don’t require deep watering (such as t. tectorum).
Running a lot of water over the plants for a short period of time under a shower or sink will also water them more frequently and less intensively. For mesic air plants, do this three times each week, and for xeric air plants, once per week.
Air plants won’t get enough water from misting alone. Every two to three days, you can spritz your air plants. However, at least once a week, you should soak or submerge them for extra deep watering sessions. Shake off any extra water consistently (you can even leave your air plant to dry upside down).
While this is a broad suggestion, the best course of action is to learn what each species of tillandsia requires.
Tip #1: Promote rooting
The beautiful thing about air plants is that you can exhibit them nearly anywhere by just arranging them on top of different things.
However, roots will be encouraged if you secure your air plants to fixtures that they ordinarily cling to in their natural habitat. Better roots will therefore encourage more rapid and superior growth overall.
To achieve this, you must secure your air plant to items like driftwood, wood, tree fern slabs, bark chips, and trees, among others. By encasing the base in moss, you can attach your air plants to those items.
After that, secure by wrapping the plant around the mounting device with some floral wire, as shown. You might need to do this by drilling holes through the display for the wire.
Tip #2: Fertilization
Fertilizing your air plant might assist if it’s not growing. Although air plants can survive without fertiliser, fertilising your tillandsias is strongly advised.
By doing this, you dramatically increase the lifespan of your plant. Your air plant won’t thrive if you don’t fertilise it. Your air plants’ growth and colouring will both be enhanced by fertilising.
In the wild, they actually take in nutrients from the nearby sources and decaying stuff (such airborne debris, dead leaves, and bugs). Through the trichomes on their leaves, they take in water-soluble nutrients.
We must use specially prepared tillandsia/orchid fertilizer/food because we don’t give our indoor air plants with natural sources of fertilising at home. Fertilizers for air plants, like this weekly spray, frequently contain additional nitrogen and potassium for foliage development (new tab).
Tip #3: Provide favorable conditions
Make careful to offer your air plants the best conditions for growth and success. This includes plenty of filtered strong light (a terrarium cannot have more than one hour of direct unfiltered sunshine), excellent air exchange, and regular watering.
Make sure there isn’t a draught, but if it is near a window, ventilate the space once daily or move the plant outside for some fresh air (they love it).
To assist them tolerate more heat in the summer, deeply hydrate your air plants and lightly mist them in between. Your air plants won’t last very long if you keep them in showers or gloomy areas.
Do air plants ever get bigger?
There are many different varieties of air plants (Tillandsias). One of its most distinctive qualities is their range in size. In our greenhouse, we’ve seen Xerographicas the size of beach balls, Ionantha Mexican plants the size of your thumbnail, and everything in between. This list is for people who are looking for tiny plants. The following little air plants are ideal for use in tiny containers such as teardrop terrariums and globe terrariums. On our page for little air plants, you can find them all.
It’s vital to remember that all air plants are seedlings or pups, which are offsets at the base of the mother plant that appear after blooming. The plants mentioned below are likely to remain small and compact during their whole lives, nevertheless. Of course, there aren’t many air plants that are too big for a household atmosphere. On our website, we refer to size in terms like “little” or “big,” but these terms are all relative to the species in question. For instance, a large Ionantha Rubra will still be smaller than a little Xerographica.
One of the first air plants you will likely come across in your hunt for small plants is the Ionanthas, a particular variety of Tillandsia. Typically 1-3 inch tall plants with spiky foliage, Tillandsia ionanthas. They produce a lot of pups and, if let to spontaneously multiply, will form clusters. They naturally occur in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Elevation, climate, and conditions in each Ionantha’s native region account for the majority of the differences between them.
Where should air plants be placed?
All air plants are native to tropical regions where freezing temperatures never occur. It’s crucial to keep them at a reasonable temperature without a sweater, right? typically from the 1960s or earlier. Keep them away from windows that are cold in the winter and air conditioner vents.
At least a few hours of bright, indirect sun each day are necessary for air plants to thrive. The optimal placement is between one and three feet from an east or west-facing window, or around two feet from a source of artificial light. They can be exposed to hotter, more direct sun for longer periods of time if you maintain them well-hydrated. Avoid areas that are poorly lit.
Do air plants need to be pruned?
Like any other plant, air plants occasionally require upkeep and maintenance. Even healthy air plants require pruning; trimming is not just for sick plants.
Trim air plants, especially the brown and dead leaves so that new ones can grow. Cut off the dry leaf tips, any leaves that are damaged or ill, and any dead blooms. The plant won’t suffer if the roots are cut off. You are also responsible for removing the grown pups of the air plant.
You will learn when and how to prune your air plants after reading this article. If you are not ready, you risk over-trimming and damaging your plant.
Does the air plant flower?
Beginning as slow-growing plants, air plants require time, love, and care to blossom.
You might now be wondering, “How can I get them to bloom? ” or “Is there a proper technique to care for these air plants? Or perhaps you’re just impatiently waiting for your Tillandsia to flower and wondering whether there’s anything you can do to speed up the process.
Let’s start by reviewing some background information on the air plant blooming process. They bloom at the beginning of their reproductive cycle, just like all flowering plants do. An interesting truth about air plants is that they only ever bloom once in their lifetime. Depending on the species, they also produce a variety of flowers. The majority of these plants produce lovely flowers in a variety of hues, including pink, red, yellow, and purple.
You’ll undoubtedly encounter several blooming styles in the realm of air plants. For instance, the Capitata peach begins to blossom when it is a light pink colour with blooms coming from the centre. Small buds often start to appear from the core of the aeranthos and stricta, get larger, and release flowers when they open. Some species’ flowering only lasts a few days, while others may last for several weeks.
Larger air plants like the xerographica and caput-medusae have a longer flowering cycle. They frequently produce huge “inflorescences,” which for some species can surprisingly reach heights of one foot or more. The entire flower tracts are present in the inflorescence, which gradually opens up to allow the flowers to emerge. Some air plants can produce flower stalks that endure for more than a year.
After your air plants have finished blooming, you may notice “new growth” coming from the sides, the base, or leaves that are starting to fall off. [Be careful when cutting your plants.] These are young plants known as “pups,” which develop into adult air plants and reproduce the growth cycle.
You can carefully clip off the flower stalk that emerged from the air plant to speed the offset stage, which would then hasten the growth stage after blooming. Depending on the species, air plants would often produce one to three offsets or pups after blooming. You can choose to remove the offsets once they are about 1/3 the size of the adult plant (at which point they would clump together) or let them.
Even if they would bloom when they were healthy, Tillandsia still require attention and a certain amount of sunlight exposure in order to blossom. Additionally, you could use diluted fertilisers to expedite offset or pup development as well as the blooming phase.
Is there a proper technique to care for these air plants? Is that your million dollar question? Don’t ever stop watering your air plants, first and foremost! Since more energy is required for the flower and the development of offsets or pups, it makes sense that your blooming air plants would require a little more water than usual. However, when watering, you must be careful not to soak the blossom as well. Why? Considering that soaking the flower in water could cause it to decay or wilt
Therefore, you can sprinkle your air plant with a spray bottle or hold it under barely flowing water to damp only the necessary portions instead of completely submerging it while it is in bloom.
You should take good care of your air plants if you want them to stay vibrant and healthy.
Relax and take in the scenery; your air plants are still stunning to behold even if they haven’t yet begun to bloom.