Air Plants: What are they and how do they survive?

Helen_Allsebrook
Published on August 17th 2018
17
Air plants seem to have come back a storm recently and they are somewhat a mystery as to how they survive.
Tillandsias are a genus of 650 perennial, evergreen flowering plants native to warmer climates. They are found from jungle to arid desert environments – from sea level to high mountain regions. Some have adapted to grow in trees or swamps while others are from rocks or deserts, often without soil and thus referred to as air plants.
Tillandsia is the largest genus in the bromeliad family. Tillandsia duratii grows as an epiphyte on trees and shrubs, both in sun or shade and usually in drier regions.
Grow it in a well-ventilated spot. They thrive in a wide range of temperatures, light and water levels. The light and water levels should complement each other. T. duratii can grow very large in high levels of both.
Tillandsia intermedia. One of the more interesting tillandsias - this variety hangs upside down. It does produce basal offsets but also grows smaller plants from the inflorescence. Over time it will become a large, thick clump. The leaves are able to curve, giving this species such an attractive appearance.
Tillandsia ionantha require regular misting and soakings. Ionantha varieties do well in the sun, so it is best to keep them in an area that is well lit throughout the day. Soaking the plant once or twice a week depending on the environment and regular misting as needed is recommended.
Spanish Moss has no relation to the moss family, in fact, Spanish moss is a bromeliad. It is a tiny epiphyte gulping moisture from the surrounding air. This flowering "air" plant grows in the upper reaches of tall trees or other structures and uses the scales on the leaves and its curving structure to anchor itself.

Care

Possibly one of the simplest houseplants to care for. Air plants don’t have roots so use their leaves to obtain all the water and nutrients they need to survive. When living inside, they need a little help; spraying them with dilute orchid feed works very well. When the weather is hot and dry, they benefit from being submerged in rainwater, before being put on a towel to dry out. As a rough guide, usually the thinner the leaf, the more water needed.
Always mist your air plants in the morning and make sure to shake off any excess water before putting them out to dry.
Here's a long list of many types you might be interested in getting...

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