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Air Plant Care Guide

Tillandsia-air-plants-care

Tillandsia

We hear of shrubs, perennials, annuals, groundcovers and so on but there is also a group of plants known air plants. What are air plants and how do we grow and care for them in our gardens and landscapes? In this group or family of air plants, we get the name tillandsia, tillandsia is a genus of about 650 species of flowering plants, evergreens, and perennials that receives the majority of their nutrients from the air that circulates around them.

These species of plants are native to the Caribbean, south-eastern United States, mid-Argentina, northern Mexico and Mesoamerica growing in deserts, forest, and mountain areas. For more on tillandsia let’s take a closer look.

How to Care for Air Plants

Watering Air Plants

There are three methods which involve watering air plants, these methods are as followed.

  • Dunking
  • Misting
  • Soaking

Dunking Air Plants

When dunking your air plant simply place them under a tap of cold running water. The entire plant should be covered in water for about 2-3 minutes hung upside and dried before returning the plant to its location.

Misting your air plant

Misting involves the use of a spray bottle, fill the bottle with water and adjust the nozzle where the water comes out fine and misty this will ensure that your entire plant receives water. The roots and the leaves should be soaked to the point where water is dripping.

Soaking your air plant

Air Plant-air-plants-care

Air Plant

The soaking method is the most effective on-air plants that are large or air plants which have not been given water for a while. Soak air plants by filling a container with water and submerging for about 25-3o minutes. Remove plant and allow to dry.

Fertilizing Air Plants

Remember as discussed earlier air plants draw nutrients from their surroundings so it is so important to give them a little help which can go a long way.  Air plants that are grown in terrariums especially need some help seeing they are in a closed environment. Misting the leaves of your air plant with a water-soluble or quick-release will help. Fertilizers which are labeled for bromeliads or air plants will help greatly, fertilize once or twice a month or according to the manufacturer’s directions

Garden insect pests of air plants

Air plants do have some uninvited guess but taking quick action by bringing under control will keep your air plants healthy, these bugs are.

Bromeliad-air-plants-care

A Bromeliad

  • Mealybugs
  • Aphids
  • Chiggers

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are tiny white insect which is coated or covered in a mealy wax substance, these garden insect pests cause injury by sucking sap or fluids from garden plants. These garden pests can be brought under control with the use of insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth or other pesticides that are labeled for air plants.

Aphids

Aphids are a tiny pear-shaped insect that is generally light green but can be other colors as well. These garden insect pests are among the easiest of pests to eliminate. Insects can be controlled by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth, knocking them off your plant with a strong spray of water or the use of pesticides that are listed for their control.

Chiggers

Chiggers are red mites that are hard to spot because of how tiny they are. The use of a magnifying glass will help or if they are in a cluster may be spotted more easily, these bugs are known to attach themselves to humans. Chigger bugs once attached to the skin will use their mouth to bite injecting fluids and will partially dissolve tissues causing redness itching and blisters. Some persons have and allergic reaction, chiggers will also prey on animals. A multipurpose insect killer is recommended to bring chiggers under control.

Diseases of air plants

It is a known fact that tillandsia is not susceptible to disease if your plants are showing signs that something is going on, for example, the leaves turn yellow and start to wither may be because of poor storage before being purchased. The environment plays a big role and will affect how these plant responses.

When purchasing avoid plants that show the above symptoms along with plant parts and leaves which are dry. Air plants should never be exposed to temperatures below 12 degrees.

Where to Place Air Plants

Growing air plants outdoors

Guzmanias Bromeliads-air-plants-care

Guzmanias Bromeliads

Below are a few places to grow air plants outdoors.

1. Attach air plants to tree trunks.

2. Let air plants hung from your tree limb and branches,

3. Install them in containers and place the containers on a table that’s outdoors.

4. Let air plants hung from your outdoor ceiling.

5. Install larger air plants in containers and place the container on either side of your door entrance.

6. Place air plants in a container or globe and place the globe on the breakfast counter that is either in or outdoors.

Placing air plants indoors

Spanish Moss-air-plants-care

Spanish moss and orchids growing on tree

1. Place air plants around the base of your house plants.

2. Place air plants on a shelf that gets medium to low light.

3. Air plants can be placed between the leaves of your house plant.

4. Install them on your windowsill.

5. Find a spot on your bookcase.

6. What about your kitchen counter?

7. Your coffee table may be the perfect spot.

8. A brewer draw makes a cozy spot.

Growing Air Plants in Globes

When growing and caring for air plants that are in a globe ensure that the globe is medium to large which will give the plant the room that it needs. Before installing your air plant in the globe soak in a container of water for about 30 minutes. Allow your air plant to dry before placing it in the globe, when placing your globe locate and area that gets low to moderate light. Misting your air plant is so important, 4-5 times per week will give good results however if your air plant is receiving too much moisture it will die so pay close attention and monitor the extent of the dryness before misting.

Caring for air plant pups

To remove the pup from the mother plant hold both the mother and the pup firmly and apply a little pressure to the pup pulling in the downward position or using a sharp knife or pruner and cutting as close to the parent as possible. Again cutting in a downward position will give good results.

Some Species of Air Plants

Below are just a few names of air plant species.

Bromeliads-air-plants-care

Bromeliads

1. Spanish Moss.

2. Small Ballmoss.

3. Tillandsia maxima.

4. Tillandsia ionantha.

5. Tillandsia brachycaulos.

6.Tillandsia cyanea.

7. Tillandsia brachycaulos.

8. Tillandsia ionantha Guatemalan.

9. Tillandsia ionantha Mexican.

10. Tillandsia funkiana

final word

Air plants can be installed both in and outdoors, this family is so huge so you have so many to choose from. Air plants are easy to maintain and you can grow them literally anywhere, this method of growing and caring for plants is very popular and enjoyed by many. Give it a try I am sure that you will be so happy that you did.

6 comments

  1. Leo says:

    I only recently came across air plants. I had no idea whatsoever how to even add them to my garden. I have heard some encouraging things about them though and that has prompted me to take a closer look. I have to say, you have clarified it in a very detailed manner. It is particularly intriguing to learn that it can be installed indoor as well as outdoor. Thanks for sharing 

    1. Norman says:

      It is so good to meet you and I am so happy that I could help. Air plants are truly amazing and will work wonders.

  2. Edwin Bernard says:

    I found this article very informative and educational. Although I have seen plants growing out of tree trunks, I hadn’t seen them attached to ropes. This was fascinating. The variety of plants varying in shapes and colors makes this a great option to create plant color in the home. 

    The methods of watering the plants seemed reasonable and do not appear time consuming. Is it possible to set up a drip system or other means of automating the watering process? I ask this because if one builds up a large collection it could become very time consuming watering all the plants manually. 

    Thanks for writing this fascinating article.

    Edwin

    1. Norman says:

      The air plant family is so amazing and can work wonders. Yes if that is the way to go then it is possible to have a system installation that will help.

  3. Feji ben says:

    Hello there,thanks for this awesome article I know it would of help to the public as it has been of help to me… because bit very informative and interesting too.air plants are one of God’s gift to man as they are very unique I had some these species in my garden and I tell you they are very nice but I didn’t have time to take good care for them so everything was messed up.thanks once more for the tips as I would use them once I restart my garden.

    1. Norman says:

      Yes, these plants are God’s gift and they are so easy to care for. I am so happy that could help.

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