Air plants are one of nature’s many wonders and by far one of the most unusual plant species. We will discuss what they are, how to best care for them, how to display them, and our top three favorites in this journal.
A Brief Overview
Tillandsia, the Latin word for air plants, are indigenous to South and Central America’s mountains, deserts, and woods, and certain varieties can even be found in the southern United States. Air plants grow on and around trees because they are epiphytic, but they are not parasitic. Instead, they absorb nutrients from the air and sporadic rainfall through their leaves. Their leaves have layers of trichomes, which are small, hair-like structures that are silver in color and help the plants easily absorb water. Unexpectedly, the tiny roots that air plants have serve to hold the plant to a surface rather than to absorb nutrition. It’s normal practice to trim the roots off of plants before bringing them indoors for a cleaner appearance.
Air plants have a predictable life cycle, in contrast to many other tropical indoor plants. Years after reaching maturity, the air plant will blossom, with the majority of the blooms featuring extremely strong violets, pinks, reds, and oranges. After they have blossomed, the mother air plant will gradually start to generate offshoots known as “pups.” You can carefully remove these pups, which will grow into new, healthy air plants once they are roughly one-third the size of the mother plant. Following this stage, the mother plant will gradually start to die, leaving behind a sizable number of baby air plants, and the cycle will then begin again.
You can be sure that air plants don’t require (or even particularly appreciate) that kind of harsh, direct sunlight, despite the fact that some of them may resemble succulents, cacti, and other light-loving plants in appearance. Since air plants typically grow around the shady canopies of trees in their natural habitat, they enjoy bright indirect light when housed indoors [find out more about lighting here].
Contrary to popular belief, air plants do need water to survive and can’t thrive on air alone.
Once a week, immerse your air plant in water for about an hour. After giving the air plant its weekly wash, gently shake it out to get rid of any extra water that may have gotten between its leaves. Before returning your air plant to its normal position, turn it upside down for a couple of hours to let any remaining water drain from the plant. By doing this, your air plant’s risk of developing rot is significantly reduced. Your air plant will have a longer, happier life if you follow these maintenance advice.
Ways to Display
Because air plants don’t require soil (i.e., a container) to survive, one of its most intriguing characteristics is that they may be placed almost anyplace. They can be displayed in a transparent glass container with pea gravel to support them or left alone on a desk or countertop to give off a more natural appearance. There are countless options.
This tiny T. tectorum specimen resembles a fuzzy snowball. Because of the abundance of its silvery trichomes, it can tolerate extreme heat and drought.
T. xerogrpahica: These air plants, sometimes known as the queen of the air plants, can grow to be quite large. They form a rosette and have long, silvery-green leaves that spiral around one another.
T. streptophylla: This air plant, which is bulbous and has ringlet-like leaves, curls more tightly the longer it goes without water.
I hope this post has helped you learn a little bit more about air plants. They are wonderful plants that everyone ought to use. Please feel free to ask any more questions regarding them in the section below.
What should you do after purchasing an air plant?
Although air plants can be placed anywhere in the house, they prefer direct, strong sunlight. They may tolerate brief periods of direct sunshine, but prolonged exposure to hot heat will dehydrate the plants.
Which air plants are the best?
Most Popular Air Plants in the Top 10
- Xerographica. This huge, slowly growing plant, which also grows naturally in Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador, is a favorite among gardeners.
- Ionantha. The T. rex is one of the most well-liked air plants for terrarium design.
- Bulbosa (Belize and Guatemala)
- Mediocre Medusa.
How long are air plants alive for?
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).
Succulents: Are they air plants?
Succulents and air plants have become perennial favorites for gardeners. They are quite unique due to their odd appearance, which also lends an enticing tone to any interior design. Additionally, they require little upkeep to survive, making them perfect for people without green thumbs. But a lot of people confuse the two kinds.
Succulents and air plants are not the same. While air plants are a particular kind of plants with spiky leaves, succulents are plants with puffed or juicy portions. The main distinction is that while succulents rely on the soil to live and grow, air plants get their nutrients from the air and are watered by spraying.
Do you soak air plants with their tops up?
It is best to provide air plants with water that is rich in minerals and nutrients because they obtain many of their nutrients directly from the water. The best water is rainwater, although spring water is a close second if you don’t have a convenient way to collect rainwater. Alternatively, you might utilize well, lake, or creek water. Never use filtered or distilled water. Less minerals and nutrients are present in distilled and filtered water. Many municipal water systems include fewer minerals and nutrients and more contaminants. If you are concerned about your pH level, air plants enjoy slightly acidic water. The ideal range for alkalinity is between 5.5 and 6.0. Most frequently, tap water from the city is higher than this range, making it unsuitable for air plants. Do not worry yourself too much about PH levels. Any good, pure water would do.
After watering your air plants, thoroughly drying them off is the second most crucial step. To ensure that your air plants completely dry, put them down on a dish towel on their side or upside down. For the larger species like Xerographica, Streptophylla, and Sparkler, this is especially crucial. Within two hours of their bath, they should be completely dry to the touch. Wait until your air plants are completely dry before putting them back in terrariums and vases. If you water your plants and then put them in an enclosure right away, your plant can get rot. Your air plants will be content and healthy if you follow these straightforward watering guidelines.
How frequently do I need to water my air plant?
For the best care, your plants should be watered 2-3 times each week in addition to once every week. Every 2-3 weeks, a 2-hour bath should be taken. You will need to water or mist your plants more frequently if you live in a hotter, drier region. Your plant’s leaves will start to feel heavier and more wet after watering, and they will be softer and lighter in color when they require more water. Dehydration may be indicated by leaves that are wrinkled or rolled.
Are bugs attracted to air plants?
Even the most experienced growers of air plants can encounter some challenges because they are among the easiest plants to care for. Discover some of the most typical problems that could occur when taking care of your air plants and how to prevent them!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about your specific plants; we are pleased to assist!
One of those things that could occasionally occur is air plant rot. Although it frequently results in your air plant’s demise, there are measures to prevent it. Plants that are either overwatered, underwatered, or even plants that aren’t getting enough light frequently get rot. The leading cause of rot is excessive watering. Rot is frequently to blame if the base of your air plant feels soft and mushy to the touch or if you can easily take the leaves off the base. Even air plants are capable of internal rot. You can have a plant that appears to be healthy one day, but the next it might come apart totally. Typically, internal decay is at blame. So what steps can you take to stop rot? The most important thing is to not overwater your plants. Most air plants only require weekly, and occasionally even less, watering. Never let your air plant remain on damp moss or submerge it in water for an extended amount of time in a terrarium. Shake off any extra water from your plants’ leaves after watering to prevent rot from occurring in the plants’ roots. Dry the plant upside down to allow for complete drying and for any water to seep out of the plant. On our care page, “How to Water an Air Plant,” you can find out more about watering your air plant.
Under-watering can also cause air plants to dry up or rot, which is a major problem. There is a widespread misperception that because these creatures are known as “air plants,” they don’t need much, if any, water. Online, it’s common to find inaccurate information regarding how frequently to water air plants, with many people claiming that they just require misting or monthly watering. It’s not like that at all! It’s important to water air plants at least once a week because they require enough water to live. It’s acceptable to occasionally forget to water your air plant, but avoid making it a habit. Under-watered air plants will exhibit curled leaves, browning foliage, possibly feel mushy to the touch, and may even entirely disintegrate from dry rot.
Lack of light is one of the most frequent causes of death in air plants. Since the majority of air plants are from tropical regions and some even thrive in more intense sunlight, they don’t thrive in low light environments. You may notice that the color of your air plant is fading and that it frequently becomes floppy or wilts if it isn’t receiving enough light. We advise placing your plants on display in an area that gets indirect light at least 4-6 hours a day. Frequently, you can do this outside, by a window, or even in a light room.
Your air plants’ growth, blossoming, and pup production can all be encouraged with fertilization. However, excessive fertilization will burn your air plants’ leaves and kill the plant. A excellent tip to follow is to water and fertilize your air plants at the same time once a month. And keep in mind that fertilizer is quite effective when used sparingly.
Because they love to reside in an environment with high air circulation, air plants received their name for a reason. A closed-off terrarium may make an air plant look attractive, but this could be fatal for your plant because it won’t be able to “breathe” and will die from a lack of air flow. Inadequate air flow can also lead to rot because it prevents moisture from dissipating in enclosed spaces. To make sure that your air plant receives adequate air, we advise placing it in a bowl with a sizable air hole or several air holes.
Even though air plants don’t have soil, which eliminates many pests and problems that bugs can cause, they are occasionally vulnerable to them. Mealy bugs and scale are the two most frequent pests that wreak havoc on air plants. A waxy cotton-like substance will appear on the leaves of an air plant if it is plagued by mealy bugs. Mealy bugs attack the delicate leaves of Tillandsia and Bromeliads to get at the “sap” inside, which causes damage to the leaves.
Small bumps that resemble shells can be seen on the stems or leaves of the diseased plant, which is how scale insects often attach to the undersides of leaves. These insects can also damage air plant leaves, turning them yellow until they eventually fall off. It is a good idea to be aware of the pests that can harm your air plants, even though they are uncommon for plants kept indoors. Keeping plants outside puts them at a higher risk of pest infestation, but introducing lady bugs to your garden can help ward off these infestations.
Sadly, once an air plant has scale or mealybug infestation, it must be confined and pesticide-sprayed. While we attempt to cultivate all of our plants without using pesticides, there are instances when it is necessary to do so in order for the air plants in the greenhouse to survive.
How Much Light Does an Air Plant Need?
Air plants require strong, indirect light to grow. Good possibilities are rooms with windows that face the south or east because the sun will shine brightly in these areas for the majority of the day. As long as the plant is put close to the window and the window is not covered by trees or an adjacent apartment building, rooms with North-facing windows also perform effectively. Western light typically arrives later in the day and has a tendency to be quite warm and powerful. Take care not to burn your air plant!
The air plant will generally withstand more light as the humidity level in your area increases. This means that you should plan to spritz your air plant more frequently, such as twice a week or even every day, if you’re placing it where it will get a lot of light. An air plant will thrive in a bright bathroom or bustling kitchen since the humidity from your shower or boiling water will take care of the majority of plant misting for you.
Air Plants and Artificial Light
A lot of customers ask us if they can put their air plant in a basement or office where there won’t be any windows for natural light. The answer is yes, but there are a few particular guidelines to follow to guarantee the success of your plant.
Fluorescent light must be full-spectrum. These plants can’t photosynthesize in the kind of light that regular incandescent bulbs produce. Place your Tillandsia no more than three feet from the source of light. Additionally, if you plan to use fluorescent lighting, the plants will require at least 12 hours every day.
We advise purchasing a dedicated bulb for your plant (such as a Gro-Lux, Repta-Sun, or Vita-Lite) and setting it on a 12-hour timer if you live in a basement or wish to keep an air plant in your office to ensure that it receives the proper amount of light to survive.
Sand, rocks, and dried wood arranged in a shallow dish make a wonderful air plant display.