Caring for your Air Plant: A Brown Thumb’s Best Friend

Air plants are the best friends of those plant enthusiasts who don’t exactly have green thumbs. These low-maintenance beauties add a little life to your home, without taking away from yours. Air plants (tillandsia), also known as tilly or till, are native from the southern US states to northern Argentina, and are typically found on tree branches, roofs, and even power lines. They are called air plants because unlike most others, these plants do not live in soil. It is their root system that keeps them attached to their home, and the leaves have the task of absorbing moisture. You may see different looking air plants, some being smooth and some hairy. The difference between them lies in the scales that lines the leaves, the trichomes. These scales are the part of the plant that absorb food and water. You can find these plants in various native habitats, as well as your own home. When you bring them in, however, there are certain things these plants need to survive. Be sure to put these plants where they can receive as much sunlight as possible, but it has to be filtered light. Near a window or outside under a porch or lanai are great places to keep your tilly. Some people may have heard that keeping these plants in the bathroom to absorb the humidity from a shower is the way to go, but keeping them in sunlight trumps the benefits of a steamy bathroom. Speaking of water, many owners of air plants struggle with underwatering, as they have heard that these plants absorb water from the air. While this is true in their natural habitats, bringing them into heated and air-conditioned homes doesn’t provide them the necessary moisture they need. Another mistake many owners makes is misting their air plants to water them. Misting however, can lead to moisture build-up where the leaves spring from, which could lead to the death of your air plant. The best way to water your tilly is to submerge the entire plant in water for 12 hours every 10-14 days. No need to worry about overwatering your plant, as they only absorb what they need to survive. When submerging the plants in water, make sure you use rain or bottled water. Soft or hard water can be damaging to the plant, as soft water contains too much salt, and hard water can clog the trichomes on the leaves, preventing proper hydration. When you are removing the air plant from the water, be sure to carefully shake it upside down a couple times to get rid of the water that collects in the middle of the leaves. To figure out when your plant is in need of another water bath, be sure to monitor for signs of dehydration. If your plant leaves seem to curl, the ends turn brown, or if the color seems to be dull compared to when it was freshly watered, it’s time to submerge it again. As for fertilization and planting, be sure to pick up a product that is water-soluble and specific for air plants, ephiphytes, or bromeliads. Planting these beauties is simple, as they don’t need soil. Pick up any cool planter at our garden center and instantly spruce up your home.
Caring for your Air Plant: A Brown Thumb’s Best Friend was last modified: April 6th, 2017 by toadflax