Air Plants Offer Many Options
Tillandsia’s commonly known as air plants, is a great houseplant if you are looking for something different. A member of the bromeliad family it is an epiphyte which means that they absorb moisture and nutrients through their trichomes which are small furry scales found on their foliage. They do not grow in soil and in nature they can be found attached to trees and rocks. They enjoy warm temperatures and grow in rainforests, jungles and deserts.
Tillandsias are an easy, low maintenance, houseplant. They need bright indirect light, such as an east, west, or filtered south window. Keep them out of direct sun. Placing them near a kitchen or bathroom window where there is moisture in the air works well. The amount of moisture a tillandsia requires, depends on the air humidity. If the air is dry the plant will need to be given moisture more often than if the humidity is high. Generally, a tillandsia should be given moisture every 2-3 days. You will know when it needs water as the leaves begin to curl or roll up.
The best way to water a tillandsia is to saturate it in luke warm rain or drinking water until the water runs off. In cases where the plant becomes dry, allow the plant to sit face down in a bowl of tepid water for 20-30 minutes. It is important to always gently shake out the tillandsia after watering and let it completely dry before placing it back in ins display container. Water that is left between the foliage will cause the plant to rot.
Every 4-5 weeks the plant can be misted with a weak solution of liquid fertilizer mixed with water to help it grow. Air circulation is also important as this is how the plant gets its nutrients and also helps prevent disease. Keep this in mind when you are displaying your air plant. Don’t place it in a completely sealed container or near forced air that can dry out it quickly. Air plants are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. Most species can withstand near freezing temperatures, although they prefer temperatures in the low to mid 20 degrees Celsius range.
The unique thing about growing tillandsias is that you can place or attach them on different surfaces. Rocks, shells, driftwood, cork are a few of the more common surfaces. A new trend is to place them in a clear glass globe terrarium, with a hole or holes in it for air circulation. The tillandsia can be placed in the terrarium on its own or things can be added to it such as coloured stones, sands, bark, moss etc. It can be then hung in a window, perfect for small spaces.
Tillandsias would make a nice gift for anyone who enjoys plants but do not have a lot of space, or for those who are looking for something different. Don’t forget to keep one for yourself too!
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road ( closed for the season)