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 kind of air plant is the simplest to grow?
- Harris’s Tillandsia
- Caput-Medusa Tillandsia
- The Tillandsia ionantha
- fuchsii Tillandsia
- Tectorum-type Tillandsia
- Streptophylla Tillandsia
- Tillandsia aerophylla
- Capital Tillandsia
- Tillandsia spp.
- Byzantium butzii
- Twig-leaved Tillandsia
#1: Tillandsia harrisii
The air plant Tillandsia harrisii has rosette-shaped leaves that are soft and fuzzy and have a silvery color. You shouldn’t have any trouble locating them for sale, like here, as they are generally accessible. This fuzzy air plant is a member of the xeric group, which originates from hotter regions of the earth.
This would imply that T. harrisii doesn’t require a lot of watering and can survive if you neglect it occasionally. For newcomers and busy individuals, that is excellent news. Your plant needs watering if you notice that it’s less fuzzy and seems dry.
Additionally, because T. harrisii prefers bright light, you can place it close to a window or ledge where it will receive indirect light the majority of the day and bright, unfiltered light in the morning and afternoon. Use fluorescent lights similar to these in a workplace or throughout the winter (that applies for all air plants).
Where can air plants be hung most effectively?
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.
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 does an air plant 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.
Alternatively, you can leave those puppies together, so they form a cluster or clump (also known as “tillandsia balls) (also known as “tillandsia balls).
Which air plant is the most beautiful?
You must already be aware that because air plants are epiphytes, they may grow without soil. And if that wasn’t intriguing enough, these plants are even more remarkable because their roots are hidden! But hold on, read about some of the greatest Types of Air Plants on this list before you buy some of them.
One of the most well-known types of air plants, it is also referred to as the sky plant. During its final days of life, it produces vivid blossoms, and the glossy, greenish-silver leaves adds to its beauty. It thrives in a tropical climate and has short stems because it is a bromeliad.
How can a healthy air plant be chosen?
Choosing a healthy Tillandsia, sometimes referred to as an air plant, is quite similar to choosing any other type of plant.
Air plants don’t use their roots to obtain nutrients or water, contrary to the general rule that you should choose a plant with a strong root system. It doesn’t matter if an air plant has roots or not; you shouldn’t be concerned.
You can typically get a sense of the overall health of the plants when you visit a nursery. There shouldn’t be any weeds, the area should look green, and each plant should have few imperfections.
There are many distinct kinds of foliage seen on air plants. Some are bright and smooth while others may have a velvety texture. Some are green while others are more silvery green.
a few illustrations of sound air plants showing the variations between them.
Avoid any plants with yellowing or browning leaves, as well as those whose edges appear dry.
When you give the leaves a small squeeze, do they feel flexible but firm, or do they crunch? The plants should look bushy and uniform, with well-filled-out leaves that are spaced fairly evenly.
Dyes and Paints:
In an effort to increase their appeal to consumers, some people add paint and/or dye to the leaves of air plants.
We would advise you to stay away from artificially colored plants because we don’t know how hazardous these dyes and paints are.
Additionally, the paints and dyes have the potential to obstruct sunlight from reaching the leaves, which would stop photosynthesis.
Asking the shopkeeper whether the plants have been “artificially boosted” may or may not reveal the truth. The plant below is a good illustration of what not to purchase; we noticed it at a garden center operated by a major store. The following arrangement is tragic and not even close to being worth $24.98.
Before you visit the nursery, it’s a wonderful idea to become familiar with the plant you want so that you are aware of its actual color, shape, and size.
The use of a smartphone to look it up while examining the plant is quite beneficial.
Can I water my air plants with tap water?
I wanted to go into more detail about this because our Facebook Page gets a lot of questions about how to water air plants. Although tillandsia, often known as air plants, are simpler to maintain than many other plant species, they still need some care and attention, and water is crucial to their general well-being. Here are some frequently asked questions about watering air plants along with our suggestions:
This mostly relies on your climate, where you’re keeping the air plants, the Tillandsia species itself, and the environment in which it naturally grows (learn more about mesic vs. xeric air plants here). Since most of the year is humid where we live in Tampa, Florida, we don’t run the heat in our home as often as our friends in the north do (I’m not trying to pick on them, I swear!). We typically water our plants twice a week, but drier climates require more frequent watering. Depending on the season, you may discover that you need to water your plants less. Additionally, it depends on where you put them at your house or office. The plants will stay more wet in a humid bathroom, but you’ll probably need to water them more frequently if they’re close to an air vent or a heat source. (Note: We don’t advise keeping your plants close to heat sources.)
It should be noted that while humidity might slow down drying, it in and of itself is insufficient for watering.
Again, you should modify your watering practices according to your climate and the species of your air plants, but for the majority of air plants and surroundings, we advise that you immerse your plants in water at least once a week. Use something that allows you to totally submerge the air plants, like a bowl, bucket, or your sink. Give them a lengthier bath for an hour or more every other week if you live in a dry area. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes at least once a week. You might wish to shorten the soaks if you reside in a location with higher humidity or if your air plant is more xeric in nature.
You should allow the air plants to completely dry after soaking. They can either be let to dry with their leaves facing down or turned over and gently shaken. If water is allowed to sit in the leaves, the plants risk rotting. The plants should be placed in an area with sufficient airflow, and they should be able to dry entirely in less than four hours. Before bringing your plants back home, ensure sure they are entirely dry if they are in a globe or terrarium.
You will observe how open and wide the leaves are after soaking your plants, as well as how much more “happy” they seem. A well hydrated air plant should appear like this! You’ll learn over time that if the color starts to look a little dull and the leaves start to close or curl, your tillandsia are thirsty and you should give them another nice wash. Try soaking your air plant for several hours or even overnight if it is really struggling to see if you can rehydrate the plant. Always allow them to totally dry off before soaking or spraying them once more.
Between waterings, you can spray the plants. If you live in a dry region, this might be a terrific method to keep plants healthy and offer them some additional care. However, unless you have one of the few species of air plants that appreciate low moisture, such as T. tectorum (for which we only advocate misting) or T. xerographica, misting is not a replacement for a thorough soak (which we recommend dunking instead of soaking).
When it comes to water, air plants aren’t particularly finicky; most tap water is suitable, although it depends on the water quality in your location. The most nutrient-rich types of water to utilize are rainwater, aquarium water, or pond water. If utilizing one of these types of water, don’t add any more fertilizer. Allow the water to rest for several hours to allow the chlorine to dissolve if you’re using tap water (maybe 24 hours in some areas.)
Use water that is not distilled since it is too “pure” and will deprive the plants of the nutrients they require. Additionally, artificially softened water should not be used since Tillandsia cannot tolerate its high salt concentration.
We advise soaking your air plants in the morning so that they can dry completely over the day. Additionally, air plants utilize the nighttime hours to breathe carbon dioxide, so if they are wet in the evenings, they won’t be able to do so effectively. This method is known as CAM; to learn more about CAM, read our page on how air plants breathe. You can check on them before you go to night and place them back in their terrariums or displays. Some indirect sunlight will help them dry more rapidly.
These are the queries about watering air plants that we encounter the most frequently. Did we respond to yours? If not, just inquire! Need advice on caring for air plants? Visit our page on air plant care.
Regarding watering the plants with blooms, I have a query. How do you water them if, as I understand it, you don’t moisten the bottoms or the blooms? Do you bring all of your indoor air plants inside during the winter? Although it doesn’t get very cold very often where I reside in Largo, Florida, it does occasionally. Since we don’t have snow, I believe the wind to be the main issue with the cold. Please lend me any assistance you can.
I recently purchased an aquarium, and in order to ensure that my three air plants receive continuous moisture in the office, I planned to tie them to a branch and let them sit on top of the tank. Do I still need to sprinkle and soak them as usual if the water that has evaporated from the tank should be plenty for them to receive?
Our well water passes through a water softener, which I should have mentioned in my previous query. They would be set up here if they could just survive on smoke.
Since we live in north-eastern Washington, rain has not been an option for us. Instead, we use well water, which I won’t even drink. I use spring water to water my air plants because I purchase it and drink it. I haven’t had them long, but they seem to be doing fine. Is using spring water for irrigation problematic?
Due to hydration issues, I do not advise attaching air plants to driftwood. In retrospect, it sounds apparent, but I was new to air plants and lost five of my six because the wood kept too much water when I first gave them a soak.