Light as Air – Tillandsias
Tillandsias, commonly known as air plants, are possibly the easiest plants to enjoy indoors. Why? They need no pot or soil and can rest anywhere, on anything! Natives of the Americas, tillandsias come to us from Central and South America, The West Indies and the Southern U.S. where they populate the rain forests, deserts, swamps, and mountains depending on the variety. If you have seen Spanish Moss hanging from those big cypress and oak trees in the American South, then you have seen air plants!
Your first question might be, how do air plants live without soil? Some anchor their roots to other plants (epiphytes) and some have no roots at all (aerophytes). However, they do have specialized leaves covered with “trichomes”, scale-like features that allow water and nutrients to be absorbed into the plant. You can become fascinated with the science of the more than 650 species of tillandsias or just enjoy the magic!
Where have we seen tillandsias growing?
Attached to a piece of driftwood – use a small dab of glue
Attached to magnets
Attached to a shell or rock
In a container set on decorative stones
Pinned to curtains
Hanging in mid-air – use fishing line to hide your work!
Sitting inside any clear container
A tillandsia will flower only once during its lifetime. The bloom itself will last anywhere from days to months depending on the species. While a plant is blooming, it will produce “pups” which will, in turn, grow, flower and produce more pups. Pups can be separated as they become adults or all the plants can be left as a clump. Once you become a fan of air plants the flowers are a bonus, but the leaves are thoroughly captivating on their own.
Keep in bright, indirect light
Submerge in water for 30 minutes once or twice a week. Airflow should be good to allow the plant to dry within 4 hours. Misting can also be done between waterings.
It’s best to use bottled or distilled water. Soft water has too much salt and hard water will eventually clog the air plant’s trichomes.