Air Plants for the black thumb


    Have you ever felt that gardening is not for you? You followed the steps, set up its home and yet a month later you find yourself feeling defeated by Fate?

    Tillandsia cyanea has a large flower resembling a fan. It has one of the most beautiful flowers

    If you are a novice in taking care of foliage then this is the type of plant for you.

    Are you someone who loves gardening and travelling equally that you end up compromising your plants’ growth because you couldn’t water them regularly? Then Tillandsias are also for you!

    I have encountered a lot of people who gave up on plants after failed attempts in making them thrive. This is the plant you should start with. It is one of the plants that you cannot kill, I assure you.

     The Tillandsia family is for you if:

    • You have tried and failed over and over again in gardening

    • You like colorful flowering plants that are low maintenance

    As time passes,Tillandsias bear pups or babies along the base that form their own rootsystem. Do not remove them until they are mature

    • There are semi-shaded areas in your home and not so much of direct sunlight

    • Space-saving plants are your option

    • Travelling for long periods of time is part of your work or hobby

    Tillandsias require the least maintenance

    In their natural habitat—the forests, mountains and deserts of South and Central America—air plants are epiphytic (growing on other plants without harming them), and emerge from the crooks and branches of trees.

    For fertilizing, you can dilute osmocoat pellets in a water spritzer and mist them with this water once a month. DO NOT USE REGULARLY.

    A clump of Tillandsia ionantha takes a long time to form–from months to years

    Say goodbye to pots with drainage holes, soil, shovels, gloves and more! You can get creative by using different holders for these adorable plants. Since they don’t need soil, simple containers can do. You can use glass, brass or deadwood. You may even make your own hanging holders. Endless possibilities are available for these live-easy plants.

    Water is a must

    Before you go on and think that Air plants only need air to survive, remember that all plants need water. Even cacti need water to live. They are called air plants because they do not need soil or substrates to live.

    How to water your air plants

    Some air plants are sold as hanging ornaments, attached to corals or shells to make them look like sea creatures. These are easily made on your own

    • Every one to two weeks, soak your air plant in room temperature tap water (or rain/pond water if you can find it) for 10 minutes. If your plants seem too dry, put them in the water longer (about 30 mins)

    • After soaking gently shake excess water from your plant. Turn it upside down and place on a towel in a bright space. This is very important! Air plants will quickly rot if they are allowed to stand in excess water

    • From the time soaking ends, the plant should be able to dry fully in no more than three hours. If your plant stays wet longer than this, it may rot. Try placing it in a brighter place with more air circulation to facilitate faster drying.

    • Optimal drying time for your air plant after soaking should be one to three hours.

    • For mounted air plants in living art installations or hanging gardens, mist your plant thoroughly once a week, so that the entire surface of the plant is moistened (but not so much that there is water dripping down into the plant).

    • The hotter and dryer the air the more you need to water and less in the rainy season

    • Do all watering in the morning. Evening soaking or misting disrupts the plants’ ability to respire overnight, and extends drying time.


    Tillandsia funkiana has a bright red orange flower that looks like a trumpet

    In order to thrive, air plants need bright, indirect light. Rooms with southern or eastern facing windows make good candidates, because these spaces will be brightly illuminated with sun for most of the day. Rooms with north-facing windows work well, too, as long as the plant is placed close to the window, and the window isn’t blocked by trees or a neighboring apartment complex. Western light tends to come late in the day, and can be very hot and intense. Avoid placing them in direct light for long periods of time.

    As a rule of thumb, the higher the humidity in your space, the more light is tolerated by the air plant. This means that if you’re putting your air plant where it will receive loads of light, you should plan to mist it more often—twice a week or even daily.

    A sunny bathroom makes a happy home for an air plant, because the humidity from your shower will take care of most plant misting for you.

    Air plant life cycle

    Tillandsia stricta normally has a pink or purple flower, but sometimes produces an orange blossom depending on the variety

    Did you know that air plants flower just once in their life? Depending on the species, these blossoms last from a few days to a few months, and can be a whole variety of beautiful bright colors, like pink, red and purple.

    Flowering is the peak of the air plant life cycle, but also marks the beginning of the plant’s old age—after it flowers, the plant will eventually die.

    But don’t despair! Just before, during or after flowering, depending on the species, your air plant will reproduce by sending out two to eight “pups”. These baby air plants, which start out very small, will eventually grow into their own mother plants. Pups can safely be separated from the mother plant when they’re about ⅓-½ its size. You will notice that it will start to form its own root system. Do not to remove them too early, as they’re actually receiving nutrients from the mother air plant!


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