All About AirplantsEmma Kisby
Air Plants were popular in the 1970’s and now it’s time for their revival!
They come from Central and South America, and their common name is Tillandsia.
Air plants grow on trees, but they’re not parasites. They grow without soil and their roots are just for attaching the plant to the tree, but not for absorbing water and minerals. Instead, water and nutrients are absorbed by things called trichomes, little fuzzy scales that are all over the plant.
Tillandsia belongs to the same family as the pineapple, which is the Bromeliaceae family. For all Tillandsias flowering is the last stage of their lives. After producing seeds the mother plant starts to die, and at the base, new offspring start to grow. The name for the new plants is ‘pups’.
Here are some top tips for growing and caring for Air Plants. The key is to try to recreate the South American environment in which they grow:
- Keep temperature above 12oC
- Water them more when it’s warmer – for example, during the summer. Water them by submerging them in rainwater 3 times a week, then shake the remaining water off and allow them to dry out within 4 hours, otherwise they will start to rot. Also do not allow any water to gather inside the rosette for the same reason
- During summer months you can also feed them by soaking them in water with an orchid fertilizer every 2 weeks
- Keep them in a bright place where light comes in, but not in the direct sunlight
Interesting fact about Air Plants…
In the 1900 the moss like Air Plant (Tillandsia usneoides) was commercially used in the padding of car seats
Airplants are available at all stores now. Pop in to choose your own and pick the brains of the experts!