The majority of air plants can be found growing naturally in places like the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Some can even be found there. The T. fasciculata, as well as other air plants and Bromeliads, grow natively in the wild in the Everglades here in Florida, particularly in the southern region of the state. Additionally, Spanish moss, also known as T. usneoides, which is a member of the Tillandsia family and not a moss at all, can be seen growing in trees in the southern United States.
The majority of air plants can be found in the wild in the regions and nations shown on this map.
Looking at the locations where air plants are located, we may learn a lot about how to care for them and what traits particular air plants might have. The leaves of air plants from wet areas may be greener and prefer more moisture and indirect light. These plants are categorized as “mesic.” On the other hand, plants from drier areas may have lighter grayish green leaves, show more trichomes, and be more tolerant of both sunlight and water. These are viewed as “xeric.” In our blog post “Mesic vs. Xeric Air Plants,” you can read more about mesic and xeric plants.
Consider the drought-resistant Tillandsia tectorum as an example. This fuzzy little plant has trichomes all over it, which enable it to take in nutrients from the surrounding air. T. tectorum naturally flourishes in the dry coastal deserts of Peru and Ecuador’s high Andean slopes, where rainfall is scarce. They utilize the moisture they can from low-lying clouds in the high mountains and near the shore using their profusion of fuzzy trichomes. You should consider the T. tectorum’s native environment when taking care of these plants. As they are used to in the wild, they want less water, more sunshine, and good air circulation.
Where can you find air plants in the wild?
By far one of the most unique types of plants, air plants are one of nature’s many curiosities. 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.
Can you collect wild air plants?
Did you know that xerographica air plants were on the verge of extinction less than 25 years ago? The xerographica was so widely used in home design and is a must-have for serious air plant collectors! How was this possible to happen? Since the trade in Tillandsia (air plants) was mostly unregulated in the 1980s, it was possible to harvest xerographica and other tillandsia plants for commerce directly from the wild. The T. xerographica was thankfully listed as an endangered/protected species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prevented the export of air plants from South America for several years.
Moving forward, growers in South America were permitted to start spreading the xerographica under the careful supervision of CITES inspectors and local governments. As a result of these farmed xerographica plants, we started to see a resurgence of xerographica plants on the market in the 2000s. Did you realize that the miniature xerographica plants we sell are actually seedlings that are 4-5 years old? After blooming, the slow-growing xerographica plants often only produce two to three offsets, and these can take years to develop.
Growers in Guatemala are sometimes forced to keep one out of every three puppies or offsets that produce according to CITES regulations in order to promote the regrowth of mother plants. Additionally, in order to sell xerographica plants, growers must acquire licenses certifying that their plants were raised in nurseries rather than being foraged from the wild.
Additionally, Harrisii plants are listed as endangered by CITES. Growers must adhere to the same rules as they do with the propagation and trading of xerographica plants because these slow-growing plants were also virtually poached to extinction in the wild.
Volunteers have started saving and moving endangered wild Florida Tillandsia species, like the T. utriculata (wild pine, huge air plant) and the T. fasciculata, in Southeast Florida (cardinal air plant). Due to their vivid red flowers, cardinal air plants are among the most sought-after plants that illegal collectors attempt to take from Florida swamplands in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Over the years, park rangers have detained a number of individuals who attempted to smuggle these and other plants out of the park, where they might eventually find up in backyard gardens and plant nurseries.
First, check sure the Tillandsia you purchase has been responsibly raised or cultivated and comes from a supplier that has all the necessary CITES permits. Ask if you’re unsure. Anyone conducting business ethically will be pleased to provide you with the necessary information. We make certain that all the plants we bring in from Guatemala adhere to these strict regulations and even have licenses proving that we are authorized to bring in protected species like the xerographica and harrisii. You may be confident that we make every effort to get plants that are grown sustainably and do not negatively affect Tillandsia populations in the wild.
In our greenhouse, we have many pups from different plants, such the ionantha, xerographica, funckiana, pseudobaileyi, aeranthos, concolor, schiedeana, and many more! We also allow plants to generate offsets after they have bloomed! We remove these “pups” whenever they are at least one-third the size of the mother plant, let them mature, and then ship them to one of you when you place an order!
Check out this article about air plant propagation to learn more about puppies!
In our greenhouse, a T. xerographica pup or offset was removed from a mother plant.
Second, refrain from harvesting Tillandsia in the wild. Don’t do it at all. Although it is cool to see an air plant or bromeliad tucked in a tree, we are aware that it might be rather enticing. But while it might look lovely in your home, don’t take it from the wild, leave it to grow and thrive in the wild where it belongs!
Can I raise air plants on my own?
What could be better than a cute little family of lovely air plants? a sizable group of air plant puppies and plants! Your air plants will soon begin to grow little since they wish to pass on their genes “pups at their foundation. As your family of air plants expands, these genetic copies will eventually develop into a new plant that can be removed and grown separately, saving you money!
An air plant will begin its reproductive process by developing a very small leaf after the first bloom cycle “at its base, a pup. After birth, the bloom cycle can last anywhere from six months to several years. When it comes to caring for air plants, patience is unquestionably a virtue. They appear to take their sweet time with everything. You can promote puppies in a number of ways, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
These puppies mark the beginning of a brand-new air plant that will grow, blossom, and reproduce pups of its own in the future. Pups are a simple way to expand your collection of air plants, even if they can also seed and propagate traditionally. Allow the cute little puppies to reach a size between one-third and half that of their mother. They don’t function well on their own until they have a little more maturity.
These pups would remain tethered to the mother plant until it passed away in the wild. This will result in stunning air plant clumps. It’s not necessary to remove pups if you wish to let them develop naturally. Large balls of plants are extremely sought-after and hard to come by. They look particularly nice when planted in trees and can be hung with wire or rope.
A pup is often born on Tillandsia Caput-Medusae one month after the bloom has dried up.
You will need to undertake a kind of surgery if you prefer the concept of raising your pups separately. Don’t worry; perhaps there won’t be any bloodshed. All you require is a knife or blade with a sharp edge, decent lighting, and a new location to raise the removed pups. Just sever the pup’s connection to the mother at its base. Always err on the side of cutting more from the mother than the pup and try your best to avoid hurting the pup. Actually, it’s a fairly easy technique that anyone can complete. Sometimes you can simply snap the pup off between two fingers depending on how it is positioned.
Once they are eliminated, you can cultivate them in the same manner as a regular plant. It really is that easy. Owning air plants can be a highly gratifying hobby, but one of the most exciting parts of caring for air plants is being able to propagate pups. In the comments box below, feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Tillandsia Melanocrater swiftly produces robust pups that can be gently pulled from the mother or can be easily separated from the parent with a sharp knife.
Aloe vera—is it an air plant?
In the modern world, we cannot get enough fresh air, especially when the majority of us seem to be spending more and more time indoors thanks to the fantastic British weather!
Because of contemporary synthetic materials and temperature control, indoor air can be stale, polluted, and frequently much dryer than is ideal.
Computers, synthetic furniture, and paints—to mention just a few—quietly release chemical vapors into the atmosphere, while your heating system dries out the air.
Complaints including allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, and tickly coughs may result from this.
The indoor air we breathe can be greatly improved by a simple plant. They put a lot of effort into removing these poisons from our air and reintroducing humidity.
In actuality, being close to plants has several positive health effects. Over time, general investigations have revealed that plants benefit us in the following ways:
- lessen your fatigue, cough, and headaches
- lessen the effects of allergies
- Get over the common cold more quickly
- Reduced tension
- If you work from home, be more creative and productive.
However, not every plant is the same. It’s vital to choose the proper one because some people prefer more light or heat than others, and others clean the air better.
Here are our top 10 picks for plants that will purify your air to assist you in making the proper decision:
VERA ALOE The wonderful thing about this plant is that it absorbs carbon dioxide, which we naturally make when we breathe, and emits oxygen at night. All of this results in cleaner air and a better night’s sleep.
CHLOROPHYTUM (SPIDER PLANT) The well-known Spider Plant excels in purifying the air. Keep one of these plants near your kitchen and bathrooms in particular because formaldehyde, a toxin that causes cancer, is present in common household items like adhesives, grout, and fillers.
Top Tip: If you have pets in your home, the spider plant is often regarded as a safe house plant.
The plant SANSEVERIA (SNAKE PLANT), also referred to as “the mother-in-tongue,” law’s is very effective in removing formaldehyde, which is present in many cleaning, personal care, and hygiene products.
SPATHIPHYLLUM (PEACE LILY) is a flower that embodies beauty in all of its simplicity. It has tall, graceful white blossoms and robust, dark-green foliage. Really simple to maintain, this plant aids in the removal of toxic benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde fumes. These stunning blooms emit moisture that increases a room’s humidity by up to 5%. By doing this, you can put an end to those grating dry nostrils and get a decent night’s rest.
The Spider Plant is a better option if your pet likes to nibble on indoor plants because this plant is harmful to cats and dogs.
DORCA MARGINATA (DRAGON TREE) The xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde that are dispersed in indoor air by lacquers like your hairspray, furniture polish, or furniture varnish can be removed by this plant.
PALM ARECA A very classy palm tree with delicate fronds that would look great in your living room or foyer. This attractive plant gives off a lot of moisture into the air, eliminates toxins from the environment efficiently, requires little maintenance, and is resistant to insect infestations.
BUSH FERN This plant’s profusion of lush leaves aids in removing pollutants from the air and increasing humidity in a space. It should flourish with a little regular misting and watering.
ELASTIC FICUS (RUBBER PLANT) If the room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, go with this tough-bred plant. Its architectural style makes it a favorite among designers, and its straightforward, big leaves look well almost anywhere. one of the most prevalent pollutants found in our indoor air, formaldehyde, is very effective in being removed.
Benjamin Ficus (WEEPING FIG) The Weeping Fig is ideal for filtering contaminants like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene that are frequently found in carpeting and furniture.
SCINDAPSUS It will grow in a cascade of green from a hanging basket and is another potent plant that fights formaldehyde.
Top Tip: If you live on a busy road, cover your home with this lovely, gushing foliage to keep the fumes from cars out.
These 10 plants are essential for keeping you and your family healthy by acting as natural air filters and raising the oxygen levels in your home. There are many more plants that may make your home appear and feel lovely and fresh.
is present in emissions, fixatives and disinfectants, or preservatives in consumer goods
Best Practice: Swap out your air freshener spray for a jasmine plant for lovely and wholesome-smelling air!