Air plants


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Air plants (aka Tillandsia‘s or Tilly’s) are tropical epiphytes which means they don’t require soil and need very little maintenance. Since no soil is necessary, you can get very creative when decorating with air plants! 

Care and maintenance:

Temperature – Air plants are tropical and thus generally prefer 60 degrees F or higher

Light – In nature they can be found under tree canopies and thus an ideal location is one that gets at least a few hours of bright, indirect sunlight (e.g., within 10 feet of an east or west-facing window). Avoid dimly lit locations.

WaterPlants with fuzzy leaves with feathery, white, silvery, and dusty coatings indicate xeric types that come from sunny, dry climates, where rainfall is less frequent. Their pronounced trichomes collect maximum water when it falls and hold it for use during dry periods. These require only once or twice a week watering and can tolerate more sun.

Smooth, glossy leaves are most common on mesic types that come from shaded, moist rain and cloud forests, where water is plentiful. They have less pronounced trichomes and less protection from drying out and hot sun. These you will likely want to water more than twice a week and a location that gets more indirect sunlight would be best.

The amount of water and frequency of watering depends on several things including the type of plant, its location (e.g., amount of sunlight, the dryness of your home), and the season. Use room temperature tap or rainwater, but never softened water because the salt in it can damage your plants. Choose the most convenient watering method for you and your plants:

  • Misting is perfect for plants inside globes or displays, and for people who like daily interaction with their plants. Mist three to seven times a week, depending on the type of plant/climate/season and try to wet all surfaces.
  • Dunking is good for plants that are attached to wood or freestanding, as well as those with dense or very curly leaves that are hard to mist thoroughly. Dip the whole plant briefly into a pan of water or a freshwater fish tank, or put under a running faucet. Use this method two to four times per week for mesic types and once a week for xeric types.
  • Soaking helps revive dry plants. Submerge the whole plant for 1 to 3 hours. Use this method once a month or after a period of neglect.

After watering, shake out the excess water so that no standing water remains in the center. Let plants dry in a well-ventilated place so they don’t remain wet. Water more frequently in air conditioning, hot weather and desert climates, and less frequently in cool, cloudy weather.

Tip: When “planting” avoid tucking them into moss that stays damp, which may cause air plants to rot.

Fertilizer – Fertilize air plants once or twice a month, or as needed, with a water-soluble orchid or tillandsia fertilizer, following package instructions for dilution. Use the misting or dunking method. These special fertilizers do not contain urea nitrogen, which air plants cannot use.

Tip: If your plant is very dry, soak it first, then fertilize it the next day.