By Farmer D
Tillandsia Bromeliads, also known as “Air” plants, or the lesser known name “Sky” plant, are the rootless wonders of the plant world. Some of the species do have roots, but these are used primarily to anchor the plants in place. Air plants take up moisture and their nutritional needs through the leaves, and only one species, the Pink Quill (Tillandsia Cyanea ) can be grown in a pot. When doing so with this variety use a potting medium made for orchids. They can be found in various garden centers but check to make sure they are potted up in the proper medium. If not, I personally would steer clear. All other air plants can be displayed by various methods. They can be placed in shallow bowls, glued to a piece of drift wood, placed around larger cacti in a pot. The possibilities are endless and a search on google will give you so many examples that it’s rather mind boggling. A good read on the care and various ways to display them is Air Plants, The Curious World of Tillandsias by Zenaida Sengo.
Air plants prefer very bright light from an east or west window with some direct sun in the winter. I like to keep mine next to a south facing window but out of the direct rays of the sun. While they can handle morning or late afternoon sun, the rays from the mid-day sun is usually a death sentence. Also when placing your air plants in a space to get the proper amount of light, it’s important to take in consideration that they are not in the direct flow of air from your air conditioning and/or heating unit – this can dry them out rather quickly.
When it comes to watering your plants there are various methods. Some folks like to mist them by spraying all the plants surfaces with a spray bottle once a day. The one drawback to this method is that it does not rehydrate a thirsty plant enough. Other folks like to do a dunking method where the plant is briefly immersed in water for just a few minutes about 3 times per week but, like misting, this will not really rehydrate a thirsty plant. I like to soak my plants in a bowl of water once week for a minimum of 1 hour.
When soaking or dunking the plants in water it’s important to shake the excess water off of them and then turn them upside down for a couple of hours. When fertilizing them – which should be done monthly with a high-phosphorous (low nitrogen) fertilizer – use a good organic fertilizer such has Espoma liquid grow or Natures Source and mix it at half strength. Just mix the proper ratio for the amount of water you’re using for the method you’ve chosen and feed away.
If you are looking for a low maintenance, easy to care for plant that can be displayed in countless ways, you can’t go wrong with Air Plants. Until next month, have a good one.