Air Plants are Epiphytic (growing on other plants without harming them), they require no soil, and they get the majority of their nutrients from the air around them.
what are air plants(Tillandsia)?
Air Plants also called Tillandsia are around 650 types species of perennial flowering plants, evergreen, in the family Bromeliaceae. Native to the forests, mountains, and deserts of northern Mexico, Central America, and South America.
The name “air plant” is actually a little misleading, not because they can thrive on air alone, but because they require no soil at all to grow, and they get the majority of their nutrients from the air around them.
most air plants are epiphytic (growing on other plants without harming them). Some are aerophytes, who have a minimal root system and can grow on shifting desert soil.
Their leaves are covered with specialized cells (trichomes) capable of rapidly absorbing water that gathers on them.
Air plants tie themselves to, trees, shrubs, rocks, or the ground with their roots.
Due to the epiphytic way of life of the plants the peculiarity arises that these bulbs do not lie in the ground, but hang in the air on branches.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance decorating house plant then Tillandsia air plants may just be the one.
I’ve never met an air plant that I didn’t think was charming!
Different types of air plants Tillandsia
How Do Air Plants Grow (Air Plant Care)?
Tillandsia is native to areas of extremely high humidity, which is why they have evolved to take in moisture directly from the air.
Air Plant grows with constant air circulation, as its name indicates. with warm temperatures and about once a week of watering—some varieties can go two weeks without being watered.
Keep an eye on them to determine what exactly your plant needs.
Light and Temperature
All air plants come from tropical climates. It’s important to keep them at warmer temperatures you find comfortable for them. Avoid placing them close to air conditioner vents and cold winter windows.
Air plants do best with at least a few hours of bright, indirect sun daily. If you keep them well watered, they can have hotter, more direct sun and longer exposure. Avoid dimly lit locations.
Watering and Fertilizing
The condition of your air plant’s leaves can give you hints about how to care for it.
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 store, maximum water when it drops and holds it for use during dry days. They need watering only once or twice a week 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 little protection from drying out and hot sun. They need more frequent watering.
The best way to water your air plant depends on the plant, its location, and your own preferences. Use room temperature tap or rainwater.
To most Air Plants the proper way to water is to actually submerge the entire plant in water and about 30 minutes or more(Trial and error).
Designed to take in water through the leaves, the plant will only absorb what it needs. No risk of overdoing it. Give it a gentle shake to remove any water left between the leaves, and you can set it back on its shelf for another week or two before another dousing.
Where Do Air Plants Come From?
Air Plants are native plants to the forests, mountains, and deserts of northern Mexico, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean to mid-Argentina, and the south-eastern the United States.
thay have the ability to thrive in the warm temperatures, despite neglect.
With over 650 species of Tillandsia, these unique plants can survive without soil and without water(using the humidity).
How Much light Do Air Plants Need?
In order to thrive tillandsias prefer bright, but indirect, filtered light.
Air plants need bright, indirect light. Rooms with southern or eastern facing windows make good candidates because these spaces will be brightly illuminated with the sun for most of the day. Rooms with north-facing windows work well, too, as long as the plant is placed close to the window, and the window isn’t blocked by trees or a neighboring apartment complex. Western light tends to come late in the day and can be very hot and intense.
be careful – not to fry your air plant!
rule of thumb, the higher the humidity in your area, the more light is tolerated by the air plant. if you’re placing your air plant where it will receive lots of light, you should plan to mist it more often – twice a week at least.
A sunny bathroom will make a great place for an air plant because the humidity from your shower will take care of most plant misting for you.
Air Plants and Artificial Light
can I place air plants in an office
Many people ask us if they can place their air plants in an office or basement room where it won’t get any natural light. The answer is yes, but there are a few specific rules to follow to ensure your plant’s success.
can I place air plants in an office
Because Air Plants need indirect light, they make great office plants as long as they get some light, either indirectly from a window source, or artificially from full-spectrum fluorescent lights.
Full-spectrum (fluorescent) light is a must. Regular incandescent bulbs don’t emit the quality of light these plants need to photosynthesize. Your Tillandsia should be placed no further than 3 feet from the light source. Also if you’re going to use fluorescent light, the plants will need, at minimum, 12 hours per day.
can I place air plants in a basement
If you live in a basement, I recommend buying a special light for your plant (such as a Gro-Lux, Repta-Sun or Vita-Lite) and setting it on a 12-hour timer, so your plant gets all the light it needs to survive.
We’ve experimented with air plants throughout our house and the ones that seem to do best are near our kitchen window, which is partially shaded by outside trees – so they get plenty of natural, filtered light.
The humidity of your surroundings will also be a factor for how much direct light air plants can handle. usually, if your air plants are living in more humid surroundings, they will be able to handle a bit more sunlight since they will not dry out as quickly. For example, air plants living outside in the humid Florida environment can often do OK with more sun.
Of course, as with anything in nature, there are exceptions. Some air plants can handle more direct sunlight. The great Xerographica air plant is one of the few tillandsias that can take full sun.
I recommend that you experiment with positioning your air plants in different lighting situations to see how they respond best.
How Do Air Plants Reproduce?
After flowering, most air plants start the reproduction cycle, your air plant will reproduce by sending out 2-8 new “Baby plants”, which typically start growing around the base of the air plant. When the “Baby plants” grow to about ⅓-½ the size of the parent, you have 2 cool options(Careful not to remove them too early, as they’re actually receiving nutrients from the mother air plant!):
1) remove the “Baby plant” and let your new plant grow, flower and reproduce again
2) leave the “Baby plant” attached, and you’ll soon have a beautiful cluster growing, which will continue to flower and produce new “Baby plants”
It’s very enjoyable to watch the growing cycle. Each species of air plant reproduces somewhat differently. if you have kids, this is very educational and fun to watch. PLUS… you are purifying the air you breathe. Air plants are one of the best natural air cleaners of all plant species.
When to Water Air Plants?
Air plants do not only live on air, while air plants do not grow in the soil, they definitely need watering. While plants can survive for long periods of drought, they will not grow or thrive and eventually die if they do not get enough water.
Follow the instructions below for watering your plants regularly and you can enjoy them for a long time.
Watering an air plant is a bit tricky (not so hard).
Some people swear by misting, others by soaking, and still, others use a combination of both misting and soaking in their air plant care regimen.
What is the best water for watering air plants?
In their natural environment, air plants get their nutrients from rainwater, dying bugs, and bird droppings.
There are several different kinds of water you can use to water air plants, regardless of whether you’re misting them or soaking them.
Here are some tips for the type of water to use when watering air plants:
Springwater or rainwater is the best choice.
If you can collect rainwater, for example with a rain barrel(also Eco-friendly and great for your garden), this would be the best option, click here to learn about rain barrel benefits, or if you have access to pond, creek, lake, or well water.
Using chlorinated water for your air plants will harm them.
tap water- City tap water tends to have fewer minerals and more chemicals.
If using tap water, allow it to sit at room temperature for 24 hours in a bowl, for the chlorine to dissipate.
Chlorine can turn the tips of the leaves brown.
How to Water an Air Plant
In my experience, watering air plants can be tricky because the needs of the plant vary dramatically with the space in which it is placed.
Evaluate your space is the first step to watering your air plant.
How much light is your plant getting? What is the temperature in your home at this specific time? Is the area very dry or is it very humid?
After you answer these questions, you can adapt the air plant watering regimen to suit your particular needs. Here’s what we recommend as a starting point:
HOW OFTEN DO I WATER MY AIR PLANTS?
Watering air plants by misting: For this method, use a spray bottle or plant mister to spritz air plants with water every day or two. After spraying the entire plant, place the damp air plant on a towel to dry for a few hours before putting it back in its decorative container or arrangement.
Another way to water air plants, This is the best method of watering air plants as it really allows the water to soak into the plants.,remove them from their place, and “drown” them in a bowl or sink full of enough water to completely cover them.
It’s ok if some of the plants will float up above the water—this is okay, just make sure that the majority of each air plant is submerged in the water.
Your plants need to be watered once per week, and 2-3 times is recommended for optimal care. It also recommended a 2-hour soak every 2-3 weeks.
If you are in a drier, hotter climate, more frequent watering or misting will be needed. You’ll begin to notice that after watering, your plant’s leaves will feel stiffer and full of water and they’ll be softer and lighter in color when they’re in need of water. Wrinkled leaves can be a sign of dehydration.
when finished soaking gently shakes excess water from your plant. Turn over the Air plant upside down and place it on a towel in a bright space. This is very important! Air plants will rot fast if they stand in excess water.
shake well to get rid of any excess water that may be pooling at the base of the inner leaves.
when soaking ends, the plant should be able to dry completely in no more than 3 hours. If your plant stays wet longer than this, it may rot. place it in a brighter area with more air circulation to help faster drying.
one to three hours is the optimal drying time for your air plant after soaking.
Once a week, mist your plant completely so that the whole surface of the plant is moistened (but not so much that there is water dripping down into the plant).
The warmer the climate and the drier(summer, early fall) the more you need to water. The cooler the climate and the more humid(winter and spring) the less water your air plant will need. Remember, though, that home heater and fireplaces dry the air!
Do all watering in the morning. Evening soaking or misting disrupts the plant’s ability to respire overnight and extends drying time.
Is My Air Plant Getting Enough Water?
Signs of under-watering your air plant include the leaf tips turning brown or crispy.
Unfortunately, if your air plant has been over-watered, it’s probably too late to save it. If the center of the plant turns brown or black, and leaves are falling out, your plant has likely succumbed to rot.
Air plants are pretty easygoing when it comes to their temperature. They do best between 50-90 degrees F. Ideally, overnight temperatures will be about 10 degrees cooler than daytime temperature.
add orchid or Bromeliad fertilizer into your watering regimen once or twice a month is a great way to keep your air plant satisfied. Just add a little to your water and continue as usual. Fertilizing your air plant helps it to blossom and reproduce.
How Do Air Plants Get Nutrients?
Air plants absorb almost everything from the moisture in the air.
The moisture in the air, as well as rainfall, give these plants what they need. when growing in nature they get everything they need from the sun, moisture in the air, and organic matter that falls their way, Air plants derive nutrients from everything but soil.
Air plants are members of the bromeliad family. They’re a large group of plants in the genus Tillandsia, of which there are hundreds of different species. Air plants are epiphytes that use their small roots to attach themselves to the branches of trees and shrubs, rather than growing in the ground. Because they don’t rob nutrients from their host plant, air plants are not considered parasites. Instead, they just use their host as an anchor and a place to live.
Epiphytes get their water and nutrients through trichomes -— small, hair-like structures often silvery in color. They open and close to get and hold water so the plant can absorb moisture and nutrients. Examples of epiphytes are bromeliads, orchids, some ferns, algae, and lichens. But today, we are focusing on Tillandsia.
Air plants use their unique leaves to gain from the air the water and nutrients they need to survive. The roots of the air plant are simply used for attaching themselves to rocks, trees, shrubs, and the ground.
It’s really quite amazing how they manage it, and in the rainforest, they are so successful that some tree branches are literally covered in these uninvited tenants.
What Are Air Plants Good For?
Air plants decrease carbon dioxide in the air during photosynthesis as well as remove chemical pollutants while adding oxygen back to help you breathe better.
Air Plant especially is excellent for those in urban settings as they’re small and do not need any soil.
those Plants will alleviate stress and help you to be more productive. They also do a great job of filtering and purifying the air you breathe, capturing harmful chemicals and toxins.
NASA houseplant’s research revealed how they really clear the air of toxins.
One study in Brazil looked at how Tillandsia could be used to clean the air of heavy metals. they used plants of the bromeliad family (Air Plants, usneoides) as sentinel species to detect and absorb mercury from the air in shops contaminated by the gold trade in the Amazon. The value of plants can be uniquely helpful in these environments where other kinds of remediation technology may be impractical or difficult to deploy, notes the study.
How Often Do Air Plants Bloom?
Tillandsias are tropical plants that normally live for several years and will bloom and produce flowers only one time throughout their lifetime.
The flowers are beautiful and brilliantly colored, and the bloom period will remain several days to many months, depending on the varieties. Different varieties bloom at various times, depending on their care and surroundings. A plant will most likely go into bloom sometime between mid-winter and mid-summer.
As with any flowering plant, the bloom marks the start of the reproductive process in an air plant’s life cycle. You may be surprised to learn that air plants only bloom once in their lifetime. Tillandsia produces different blooms depending on their species, many of them producing beautifully colored blossoms that come in a myriad of colors ranging from delicate pinks and fiery reds to bright purples and yellows.
There are many different styles of blooms within the Tillandsia world. Some plants, such as the capitata peach blush a pale pink color when it starts to bloom and flowers are emitted straight from the center of the plant. Other plants such as the aeranthrosand strict have small buds that grow from the center of the plant. in the end, the bud grows larger and reveal the flowers. Some blooms last a few days, while others can last up to a few weeks.
Some air plants have a much longer bloom cycle and these longer cycles are common in larger plants such as the caput-medusae and the xerographic. These plants grow large bloom tracts called inflorescence that can grow to over a foot tall for some varieties!
Over time, the flowers on the tract open up and release from the inflorescence. Some Tillandsias can have a bloom tract that lasts over a year.
These are many different varieties that it is hard to give instructions that can work for all of them, as different species bloom at different times and flowering can also depend on care and environment.
It’s best to look at the life cycle of an air plant to determine to bloom. Tillandsia flower at maturity and will only bloom once in their life.
The parent plant will start producing baby plants when they are nearing maturity. She will then die off, but each pup will grow into a mature plant and flower, although this could take years. as I mention, Blooms can last from days to months, depending on the Air Plant species.
When an air plant blooms depends on its growth environment, the type of air plant, and the maturity of the air plant. remember since air plants only bloom once, they can be very picky about when they are ready to focus their energy on blooming.
Blooming is a very energy-intensive process for Tillandsias. The wonderful blossom will happen only when the air plant is mature and ready to propagate itself.
You can understand blooming as nature’s brilliant design for air plants to attract insects, birds, and other animals to help pollinate the plant. The colorful blossoms are very vibrant and even fragrant sometimes in order to attract pollinators.
Since air plants only bloom for the sake of propagating itself, it only needs to bloom once to get the job done.
How do I get my air plant to bloom?
Many nursery air plants can bloom any time of the year the nursery desires them to bloom. It is a common industry to use ethylene gas to induce air plants to bloom. Because blooming air plants look attractive in-store displays, most of the nurseries will make the air plant bloom, before the plant reaches its maturity.
You can actually get your air plant to bloom even without the use of ethylene gas at the commercial level.
Ethylene gas is naturally released when certain fruits and vegetables are ripening. Set your air plant with some ripen fruits in the same room, such as a bag of apples and the naturally emitted ethylene gas would speed up the blooming process.
further, You can get your air plant to bloom sooner by helping it mature with a good air plant food.
Although Air Plants only bloom once, the air plant lifespan is not over when the flower has died. The air plant will continue to live for several years after blooming and reproducing.
When will my air plants bloom?
With regular fertilization and proper care, most air plants will bloom when it’s still cold outside.
A plant will most likely go into bloom sometime between mid-winter and mid-summer.
For example, Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemala or Tillandsia Scaposa, usually bloom from November to March.
Again, the exact bloom time can depend on many factors, But your air plant can only bloom once, regardless of when it blooms.
Do air plants die after they bloom once?
Once you get your air plant to bloom, you can expect the blossoms to last from a week to months or so.
After flowering the Air Plant will slowly die out(no pressure, this is not a quick process), but for us, during or after flowering (depending on the Ait Planet species ) the air plant will reproduce with new babies (between 2 and 8 on average).
If you grow your air plants indoors where there are no natural pollinators, you can pollinate the plants yourself by gently rubbing the pollen (yellow powder on the anther) onto the stigma (typically found in the middle of the blossom).
If you want, You can carefully cut the spike off, once the air plant is done blooming. This would help the plant to refocus its energy on the next stage of its life cycle— producing new air plants.
Air Plants have a finite life cycle. And this life cycle where the air plants only bloom once prepares the plant to produce more plants and propagate itself.
Unfortunately getting the flower wet will shorten the blooming length – so only submerge the flowering Air plant halfway during this period.
Are Air Plants Toxic To Cats And Dogs?
The good news, Tillandsia, aka air plants, are not toxic to dogs and cats, humans, and I never heard of any incidents to suggest they are not safe for pets.
So if your cat or your dog, is a little too fond of nibbling on your air plants leaves, don’t worry! Your pets should be just fine.
However, keep in mind that while air plants are safe for pets, your cats and dogs are not necessarily “safe” for the plants. A lot of pets love to chew on houseplants, especially the ones with succulent leaves.
If your cats or dogs have already gotten to the plant.
Air plants are very tough and sometimes they can recover from the “injury” if you give them a chance.
If you do notice that your plant has been nibbled on, don’t give up hope!
The first step would be to trim any broken tips or leaves that you see on your plant and make sure to care for it just like you would any other air plant.
You may see new leaves coming out from the base or main stem. Sometimes the air plant may even pup (have little baby plants) if the air plant mother decides to put all the remaining energy into propagating itself.
Make sure it gets adequate water so it can heal!
remember, make sure you keep a safe distance between your pets and air plants!.
Display your air plants on a shelf (hopefully not one your cat can jump onto) or hang it somewhere high. Hanging air plant can be displayed by the window or somewhere higher than where your pets can reach.
Air Plant decorating ideas
Of course, I have to say a few words about the beauty of the air Planets.
Because of their beauty, their uniqueness and low maintenance, air Planets today is very popular in the market, and also inexpensive.
The market also has an entire industry around air Plants Holder, if you are interested, I have reviewed the most beautiful air Plants Holder in the market today.
Air Plants Summary
A summary of the points in the article about Air Plants:
Air Plants (Tillandsia) get the majority of their nutrients from the air around them.
Air Plants are native plants to the forests, mountains, and deserts of northern Mexico, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean to mid-Argentina, and the south-eastern the United States.
most air plants are epiphytic (growing on other plants without harming them).
Air plants do best with at least a few hours of bright, indirect sun daily.
The proper way to water Air Plants, is to actually submerge the entire plant in water and leave it overnight.
Air Plants will bloom and produce flowers only one time throughout their lifetime.
After flowering, most air plants start the reproduction cycle, your air plant will reproduce by sending out 2-8 new “Baby plants”, which typically start growing around the base of the air plant.
After flowering, the Air Plant will slowly die out, but during or after flowering (depending on the Air Planet species ) the air plant will reproduce with new babies.
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The University of Florida, http://www.gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/houseplants/air-plants.html