Air plants or Tillandsias are unusual low-care plants you can grow indoors and outdoors.
For more on indoor growing, also see these helpful tips for houseplants.
The Mystery of Air Plants
Have you ever done a search on Pinterest for ‘air plants’? I’m a little obsessed: there’s so many cool ones! Because air plants (Tillandsias) do not require soil or containers, they can be displayed in all sorts of creative ways. Sometimes they look rather mysterious and beautiful, others are, dare I say, kind of creepy. Yet intriguing. I’ll give you some non-container ideas for plus tips for care and where to buy them.
Where To Grow Air Plants
With over 500 species, there’s a lot of varieties. Air Plants are native to southern regions including South and Central America, so, depending on your climate, you can keep them indoors year round or outdoors during warmer seasons.
As long as air plants receive indirect sun and you keep them hydrated, your options are wide open. You just have to be able to retrieve them easily for watering sessions:
- Suspend them from fishing line
- Add them to terrariums
- Sit them on a favourite trinket (like my doll chair)
- Put them in toy cars or make bouquets for dolls.
- Anything goes!
Some of the best ones on Pinterest feature hundreds of plants suspended as if floating in mid-air. Awesomeness. The maintenance is simple (though you have to keep on top of it) and some will reward you with gorgeous blooms.
Caring For Air Plants
Many air plants come with instructions saying to mist lightly every few days. If you’ve tried this you know it’s probably not sufficient. Here’s what I do:
- Submerge the air plants in warm rain water for 30 minutes every few days (the hotter and drier your environment, the more often they’ll need it).
If you cannot use rain water, use distilled (boiled and cooled to room temperature) tap water.
- Place them upside-down (root ball up) until completely dry. The root area can rot if exposed to too much water.
- During humid periods, I alternate misting and soaking the plant as needed.
TIP: Green air plants require more frequent watering than the gray varieties.
You may notice that the leaves will change colour when a blossom is on its way (the one in the jar is ready to bloom). The leaves also tend to look a bit grey when they’re getting too dry.
If you have kids or grandkids who are not particularly interested in more conventional gardening, air plants, cacti, venus fly traps, and bonsai trees may be the ticket. These more unusual plants have that weird/wow factor and make good topics for school projects.
Where To Buy
Air plants are available at many garden nurseries that sell tropical and indoor plants and by mail order: air plants at Amazon.com.
See some totally cool air plant ideas on my Air Plant board at Pinterest.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛