Air Plants - the House Cat of Plants?


Some people love their plants to death, meaning they give their plants too much attention - over watering or overfeeding them. Think of your air plant like a cat and only give them attention on their terms. Indirect light, bathing them once a week and fertilizing once a month are all air plants require.




I remember as a kid being fascinated by plants from the alien worlds visited by the crew of the Starship Enterprise (yes, I was a Trekkie). These exotic and mysterious plants hung on trees and walls without any soil. They couldn't have been real, right? Turns out they were real - Tillandsias, or more commonly known as air plants, are not only real but living right here on Earth! Originating from Central and South America these soil-less creatures are categorized as epiphytical (grow on tree limbs, roofs, wires, etc), xerophytical (grow in desert sands) or saxicolous (live on rocks). All three have a minimal root system which is only used as an anchor while water and nutrients from fallen debris are absorbed through their leaves. Tillandsia is their Latin genus name and are from the Bromeliaceae family, this also happens to be the same family that includes - yup, you guessed it - Bromelaids which are the exotic flowering houseplants you see at the department stores in spring. Tillandsias generally prefer a bright, indirect light. Some species can tolerate a direct light and are usually covered in trichomes. These tiny hair-like structures trap water and reflect light away from the plant, giving the plant a silvery appearance. These great survival adaptations help Tillandsias withstand desert conditions. Air plants that display as green are usually found in a rain forest-type setting with filtered sunlight, making them more suitable for a north or east facing window.


So what does this mean to an average Canadian plant lover? It means these little gems are available to us for purchase and easy to care for. For their care: 1. No soil or pot. I can't stress this enough. Air plants can be displayed in many ways including mounting on wood, placing in terrariums, glued in seashells, or just simply displayed on your table. 2. Light - Tillandsia require a bright indirect light so no grow lights are needed, just a window. If given enough light some species turn a brilliant color and most will flower! 3. To water I just bathe them in the bathtub (I have a few) for about 10 minutes. After their soak I take them out and tip them upside down to let the water run out of the middle. Too much water for too long may rot the plant. If your plants are mounted and can't be bathed mist them well twice a week. 4. Fertilize them once a month in a weak solution of orchid fertilizer. That's it, easy-peazy. I akin Tillandsia care to looking after your cat. Give them the right amount of water and food, admire them for their beauty and don't give them too much affection; love them on their terms. Only difference? Air plants won't eat your other plants or scratch your furniture.


Only air plant downfall? They don't purr. #airplants #secretgardens #tillandsia #indoorgardeningnovascotia