Intriguing Air Plants
By Kerry Ann Mendez
Tillandsias, commonly known as air plants, are one of the easiest (and most interesting!) houseplants to grow. There's no need to come up with excuses on why you "killed" a plant with this survivalist! The biggest no-no is overwatering, which is no real risk for those of us who are forgetful.
No Soil, No Problem
The biggest novelty of air plants is the fact that they don't need any soil to thrive. This means they can be placed practically anywhere, which can lead to some interesting display ideas.
Simply place them bright, filtered light where temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees and your air plants will live for several years.
Do Air Plants Need Water?
While Tillandsias are extremely low maintenance, they don't live entirely on air. They hail from a hot, rainy environment and still need plenty of moisture to thrive. There are a variety of acceptable methods for watering your Tillandsias. You can give them a thorough rinsing under running water, soak them in a water bath for 20 to 30 minutes, or heavily mist them with a spray bottle – whatever is easiest for you. Be sure to shake off any excess water from the base and leaves and set them in a place with enough air circulation that will allow them to dry fully in a few hours.
This routine should take place about two to three times per week, but Tillandsias are very forgiving so don't worry about their watering schedule. They'll be totally fine for a week or more if you're going on vacation. Just give them a longer soak (about two hours) when you return.
These fascinating plants will also flower when happy. Their striking flowers can be pink, brilliant red, purple or yellow, depending on the species. Sadly, air plants only bloom once in their lifetime BUT they produce babies, called "pups", that will carry on the floral show. To encourage flowering, fertilize them once a week with Air Plant Food or an orchid fertilizer.
We look forward to introducing you to these high-impact, low-maintenance plants.