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How to grow Air plants: Air Plants Care and Benefits

Are you one of those people with a black thumb who loves the green with all their heart but cannot even keep a rock alive? Well then let’s talk about air plants which are almost impossible to kill and too exotic to be with. So here we have brought information on Air Plants and its care and benefits.

What are Air Plants?

Scientifically known as Tillandsia(genus) belonging to the bromeliad (bromeliaceae) family(same family as pineapples!!) is a native to the terrains of West Indies, Mexico, Southern and Central America, Mesoamerica, Argentina, and to the Caribbean. Over 600 species of these perennial and beautifully weird flowering plants are known till date.

Now they are called air plants for a reason, that being, they get all that they need ranging from water to nutrients from air (or water) through their foliage (leaves). Their roots are just there for clinging on to a base (like other plants or trees) but they do not suck any nutrients from the host plant that means air plants are epiphytes (does not feed on other plants) and not parasites (carnivorous, feeds on other plants, insects or dead stuff). Meaning you can chop their roots off (carefully) and they will still live.

Air Plants Care
How to grow Air plants: Air Plants Care and Benefits

How to Grow Air Plants?

They are one of the easiest plant families to keep alive and they take the minimal amount of your time seeking care. The basic care involves:

  • Soil: hey there clean freaks. Voila!! They don’t need any soil. Just make them sit or attach them to any surface other than soil (PS: decor ideas pouring in??)
  • Light: keep them in partial or indirect bright sun. Even artificial grow lights will work. Or you can give them full “morning” sun but keep away from harsh “afternoon” sun or they will burn. They are tropical plants so they appreciate a warm environment (50-90 degrees Fahrenheit), not too dark and cold, not too much scorching light and heat, balance!
  • How to Water Air Plants: these plants will typically let you know when they are thirsty, look for the signs-drying, browning, curling leaves? Give them a drink. Weather is dry and hot-water more frequently; weather is humid and cold-water less frequently. Also, rainwater is best for your plants or regular tap water will also do the job just right, just never use distilled water.
  • Spray bottle: one way is to use a spray bottle and spray the foliage (Preferably once every two days, good for small plants).
  • Soak in water: other way is to submerge your plant totally in water for 15-30 minutes, air dry the plant upside down for few hours making sure water is not sitting in between the foliage which can cause rot, and then re-place it. (Preferably once a week, good for big plants)
  • Plant food: although they can do ok without any fertilizer but if you want a healthier more colorful plant which can also propagate (create baby plants) for you then you might consider adding a suitable fertilizer to it once a month.
  • Fertilizer for Air Plants: add ¼ teaspoon of a bromeliad mix to a gallon of water and soak and dry the plant as your usual watering routine. Also don’t overdo the fertilizing or it will burn the plant.
  • Pruning: typically to maintain the look of your plant, you can prune or cut off any browning or dying or drying leaf from your plant using sterilized clean shears or knife to avoid any possible infection.

How to Grow or Propagate Air Plants (multiply your plants):

Air Plants bloom only once throughout their life and flowering of an air plant means completion of its life cycle, meaning they die soon after blooming. But you can always grow your own. Given below are two ways to get new Air Plants:

  • Seeds: One way is through seeds which can typically take several years to germinate and grow to a significant size (such painful wait).
  • Offsets: Other much faster and successful way is to propagate your existing plant by separating the buds or pups from the full-grown mother plant. The only and really easy way to do this is to wait for an existing plant to grow a baby plant, then wait for the baby plant to grow to a significant size (more than 2 inches to be safe or 1/3 the size of the mother plant) then take sterilized pair of pruning scissors or knife and carefully separate the baby from the mother plant. There you go with your brand new plant. Plus let the cut callous (dry) over before watering to avoid rot.

Benefits of Air Plants

Are you too busy? Too lazy? Too much out on trips? But also too much in love with gardening? Then bring home some air plants.

  • Portable: The one unique benefit to air plants must be their ease of portability. As they don’t grow in soil or any other medium, you can literally tie (the roots) them to your luggage and carry them around. Shifting home? No problems, make sure they don’t have a trace of water on the leaves, put them in a box (preferably make holes), and hit the road. Plus have you ever heard of an air plant pendant??!!
  • Pest resistant: They are mostly resistant to bugs, pests, and diseases. Doesn’t that sound like a gardener’s heaven?
  • No soil: The soil is so overrated right? Just place the plant anywhere from the office to school to back home, on a plank or rock or tabletop.
  • Positivity: Studies around the world have shown that plants increase concentration, increase creativity and productivity, can lower blood pressure, can reduce stress, in turn, you feel happier, calmer, and peaceful.
  • Air plants are air purifiers: Absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen is no brand new news to anyone, in addition, they are great air detoxifiers plus known to maintain humidity levels. And a study by NASA has shown that air plants absorb harmful mercury from the air.
  • Can help in allergies: The surface of air plants are covered in fuzz called trichomes which can trap dust particles and pollens which can help mitigate dust and pollen allergies.
  • Visual element: These beauties are nothing like your basic house plants. Their looks are totally out of this world and sure to make you skip a beat on first glance (and maybe many upcoming glances). They can add modern art to your home in so many ways. From colors to textures to sizes, they are never-ending creations.
  • Decor: An open or at least partially open terrarium, or take a rock and place your plant on the rock. You can hang these alien plants using threads around your house and make it look like an alien apocalypse *wink*. Or the best way is to get an air plant pendant and then you can carry around your little green buddy around with you. Best thing is you can use hot glue on its roots to stick it to an even the ceiling if you want and your plant is still going to be good. Just let your imagination run wild.

PS to all plant parents: air plants are really hardy, easy, fun, and beneficial plants to have so bring your bundle of leaves home and enjoy nature!!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I have just purchased an amazing Curly Slim plant. It is in a pot with a growing medium and a disc of moss on the top. Should it stay in the pot, should it be potted on or should it be taken out of the growing medium?

    • Hi Doreen. Air plants don’t need a growing medium and their roots does not absorb water like other plants (their foliage does). So both the medium and the roots are only for show. You can keep the plant in the original medium if it looks good to you. Otherwise just take the plant out carefully, wash off the dirt and keep it soil free. Further you can water it as mentioned in the article above (by misting or soaking). Although if you live in a dry and hot place, you can keep the moss around the plant and mist it daily, it will help the plant retain moisture and avoid excess heat. Thank you.

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