Air plants can be grown without dirt, which makes them different from the vast majority of other plants! The likes of Xerographica, Tectorum, Bulbosa, Tectorum, Ionantha Rubra and Velutina are all Air Plants – there are around 650 varieties, which fall under the true name: Tillandsia.
The reason they’re called Air Plants is that they get the majority of their nutrients from the air that surrounds them. Of course, this means that where you keep them will have a huge impact on the health of your plant!
But given that they don’t need soil to grow, you’re free to place them in a number of locations around the home!
What are they and how do you care for them?
Whether you fancy yourself as a green-fingered connoisseur or you’re an amateur when it comes to gardening, Air Plants require a degree of management. It’s important to learn how to care for them, especially if you want them to thrive.
Thankfully, these low-maintenance shrubs make perfect companions for the home or office. They’re extremely easy to care for and require very little upkeep. They’re a great addition to any room in the household, and promise to add an instant green hue to your interior space, regardless of the season.
You can also choose an Air Plant based on the place it will sit, as certain species prefer more light than others. This is an important tip to consider prior to investing in any one of these shrubs.
First things first
When you first invest in an Air Plant, you should begin by soaking it in water for 15 minutes and then allow it to dry out completely, while upside down.
The next step involves giving it a gentle shake whilst it’s still upside down. This will prevent water from becoming trapped between the leaves. This could cause the plant to deteriorate or the leaves to turn yellow.
As soon as your Air Plant is completely dry and not cool to the touch, you can flip the plant over, so it now sits the correct way up, and place it into its new home.
Don’t worry if the smaller bottom leaves of your Air Plant dry up while in motion, as this is extremely common. You can remove these if you wish, providing you are gentle with the plant while you do so.
Water and care
When watering Air Plants, take into consideration their surroundings and the weather. Mist and soak more regularly if it is hot and dry, and less often when it is dark, cold or damp. Consider both the area you live in (including the normal climate) and the environment where you intend to place the plant.
Larger varieties prefer to be soaked, whilst smaller varieties are able to thrive with a thorough misting. For best results, give your Air Plants a 15-minute soak once a week. If the weather is drier, increase this to 30 minutes per week, and once every other week for 30 minutes in the winter months.
It’s important to always allow them to dry thoroughly before placing them back into their home though, as this will prevent mold from forming.
Another tip involves avoiding placing them in soil, and direct sunlight or artificial light. It’s also important to ensure they have good air circulation.
What to look out for
There are several things you can look out for to help you care for your plant. For example, if your plant is particularly thirsty, the leaves of your Air Plant will curl inwards. This is a sign they are in need of a drink and are getting a little too dry.
Air Plant’s roots are only in place to anchor the plant as they grow, but don’t need to be maintained, and can be cut down with sharp, clean scissors. This won’t harm the plant, but you should take care not to damage the leaves when you do it.
If the tips begin to dry out, it is a sign that they might be getting too much direct sunlight or are a little dry. You can also clip the dry tips with clean scissors. If this is the case, you should move the plants out of direct sunlight or increase your watering or misting.
Where to get Air Plants from
Although air plants used to be a rare form of greenery, these hardy plants are now extremely prevalent. In fact, they have become particularly popular in the past couple of years and you can find them in almost any garden center or online.
Some can even be sourced in your local supermarket. There are also a number of online nurseries specializing in these plants, many of which will offer to deliver them directly to your door complete with care instructions.
How do Air Plants grow?
Many air plants grow complete with strap-shaped or slim triangle-shaped leaves, and most boast beautiful and striking tubular or funnel-shaped blooms.
More about air plants
Air plants come in the shape of epiphytes, which translates to plants that grow without dirt. These plants instead attach themselves to trees, rocks, shrubs, or the ground using their roots and are native to the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America.
There are several types of air plants to choose from, including variants with pretty silver foliage – these tend to be the most drought-resistant, whilst the greener plants tend to dry out faster.
Air Plant temperature requirements
It’s important to not let an air plant reside somewhere cooler than 7°C as it will die at lower temperatures. If you live in a warmer climate, you can grow an air plant outdoors all year round, providing you keep it dry during the winter months.
One thing to watch out for is flowers! An air plant is extremely happy when it blooms. Once the flowers dry out, all you need to do is snip them off and they will grow again. This pruning will both neaten the appearance of your plant and prolong its lifespan.