The Tillandsia or better known as the air plant is a tropical plant that lives without roots in the earth. The gray or green leaves of the plant have special cells that can purify water and nutrients from the air in order to survive without roots in the soil. In areas such as Mexico and America, the plants grow against rocks or trees. The plant is becoming more popular as a houseplant and is not very difficult to care for. This article will teach you the best way to take care of air plants.
There are more than six hundred different types of air plants.
The leaves are usually long and narrow and pointed, often curly. They have a light green, deep green or silver-gray color, depending on the species. Silver-gray leaves are usually also covered with felt-like hair. Some varieties have more fleshy leaves. There are even air plants with red leaves! Sometimes the leaves grow in star shape. In other species, they grow down like a waterfall. During the flowering period, small but very beautiful, brightly colored flowers appear in certain varieties. Tillandsias only flower once in their lifetime.
The Care Depends on the Appearance
The appearance can mean a lot for the care. The lighter the leaves of the plant, the more light the plant needs. The gray varieties of the air plant grow in desert-like areas and can therefore withstand full sun. The light varieties of the air plant also need less water than the green varieties of the air plant. So also consider what is better for you when buying an air plant.
If you have a spot with a lot of sun in mind, a light version is a good option. However, if your spot in front of the air plant is not very sunny, the green varieties are better suited. The amount of care you want to provide can also be taken into account when purchasing. The green varieties need a little more care than the gray varieties, because they need more water.
Best Way to Take Care of Air Plants
Place the plants in a piece of rough bark or on a whimsical branch for a rural ‘forest look’. Place them in a large (oyster) shell, on a piece of driftwood or a smooth rock (use a drop of neutral glue) for a maritime effect. Or go for sleek with a wooden block, a glass ball or one of the trendy ready-to-use holders made of metal wire, glass, or another material.
The air plants like a bright spot so that the nutrients can be converted into energy for the plant. Never place wet plants in full sun to avoid burning. Furthermore, the plant is fond of movement in the air and especially fresh air. However, watch out for drafts and cold air, because the plant can handle that less well. In the summer the plants can possibly be placed outside, but some winters are really too cold for the air plants. It is therefore best to find a place in the house.
Where it usually goes wrong with the air plant is that people think that the plant does not need any water at all because the plant purifies everything from the air. The plant does indeed get nutrients from the air, but the plant still needs water from time to time.
How to Propagate Air Plants
Tillandsias are easy to propagate. After flowering, small offsets or ‘pups’ appear at the bottom of the mother plant. You can leave those baby plants on the mother plant. They will get bigger and will have baby plants themselves. This will give you a cluster of air plants after a long time.
However, you can also remove the pup from the mother plant and breed them further as separate plants. You do this when the pup are about half the size of the mother plant. Remove them very carefully from the mother plant and give them a place of their own.
Overwintering Air Plants
If you keep the tillandsia in the apartment all year round, you basically do not have to take any special care measures during the winter months. Only the water requirement can increase, as the heating air greatly reduces the humidity. In addition, the fertilization intervals are extended to four to six weeks.
Tillandsias that have been placed in summer on the balcony are to be brought indoors in September at the latest – earlier if the weather is cooler – and wintered in a bright and well-ventilated place. However, temperatures should not drop below 15°C. In this case, there is no need for fertilization, only regular spraying is necessary.
Do air plants need fertilizer?
Air plants grow slowly and require little or no extra nutrition. There are special food sprays for Tillandsias on the market. In addition to water, they also contain extra minerals that are said to keep the plants in top condition and promote flowering.
You can also choose to add some bromeliad fertilizer to the water once every 2 to 3 months. It is possible to give nutrition, but it is not really necessary and it should always be done in moderation. You can remove brown, dried leaves on the underside and you can simply cut off brown tips on the leaves. When cutting, try to keep the pointed shape of the leaf.
How to water mounted air plants?
In the areas where the air plant originally grows, the plant also gets a lot of nutrients from the rain that falls. It is best to provide rainwater, because it contains more nutrients than tap water. About once a week, the plant can be sprayed wet with a plant sprayer or submerged in a bath of lukewarm water. Let the plant dry upside down so that the water does not remain in the leaves and the plant does not rot. Make sure the plant is completely dry before you put it back upright.
Do air plants grow bigger?
There are big differences between the species in terms of size. The size ranges from tiny, lichen-like growing tillandsia of about 6 cm to large specimens with impressive leaf rosettes of about 35 cm. For more information of the size of different Tillandsia species, read our article here.
Why is my air plant not blooming?
If your tillandsia is not in bloom, it is likely that it is simply not yet “ready to flower”. It can sometimes take many years for these interesting plants to develop their often bizarre flowers. In forums it is sometimes advised to stimulate the plants to flower with the help of an apple. Ripe apples give off ethylene, which is a gas that promotes ripening. However, this method only works if the tillandsia in question is ready for it.