Air plants are actually called Tillandsis, which happens to be part of the Bromeliad species. Named for the Swedish born botanist Dr Elias Tillandz, the epiphytic Tillandsia genus come in many sizes, shapes and forms. In the wild they can be found in a wide range of habitats ranging from arid deserts and mountainous areas to warm and humid forests. As an epiphyte, airplants take in water and nutrients via their hair like trichomes on the leaves. Without the need for a conventional root system, Tillandsia produce a small root system to anchor themselves onto trees, rocks etc.
Another interesting adaptation that Tillandsia have made growing in such habitats is their specialised photosynthesis. Most plants will breathe throughout the day and night, but in dry conditions breathing during the heat of the day not only releases unwanted gasses but also moisture. As these arid growing Tillandsia need to conserve their moisture they use a specialized method known as Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) respiration, keeping their stomas closed in the daytime, breathing through the night when transpiration is less of a concern thanks to the lower temperatures.
Looking after these plants is reasonably simple. Frequent watering, beneficial air circulation and brilliant filtered light are very important aspects for their well-being. Air plants take in the carbon monoxide from the air at night time rather than the day time. If the plant is damp, it can’t breath effectively. Based on this info, it’s always best to water in the morning. Under no circumstances leave your plants in direct sunlight for extended intervals, they like filtered or indirect light.
Many Tillandsias flower annually. The length of the blooming cycle of air plant varies significantly between species with plants such as Tillandsia Ionantha being a fairly easy bloomer with short lived flowers, other species such as Tillandsia Xerographica can take many years to reach blooming age but its flowers can be produces over several weeks with an floral bract that can remain attractive for several months. Some species such as Crocata, Duratii, Reichenbachii, Straminea, Strptocarpa and Xiphioides have the added bonus that the flowers are scented! Around flowering season, many varieties of airplant such as Ionantha, Brachycaulos and Capitata also take on attractive leaf colour (blush).
Air plants flower once in their lives, but will develop pups or offspring during this period. Pups usually stays linked to the parent or could be segregated using a delicate twist/pull action at the bottom of the plant after the pup is one-third to one-half the length of the parent. In the event that the pups stay connected, merely eliminate the parent leaves when they wither and die. This will allow the pups to speedily fill the bare area.
Air Plants could be grown just about anyplace. They may be added to driftwood, aged picture frames, seashells, or pottery. Make absolutely certain to not ever affix those to pressure treated wood, copper objects or copper cable because this will destroy your plant. Generally there are reasonably priced specific glues you may buy if you choose to attach them all.
In the home or office air plants make a great, easy to care for house plants.
They require far less maintenance than conventional house plants making them a great option to add a little life without the hassle. When it comes to displaying air plants, the options are really only limited by your imagination. Air plants can be grown loose or you can attach your Tillandsis to just about anything! As an easy to grow house plant, air plants are also a great plant for kids.