|Air Plant (Tillandsia)
The air plant, which is in the Bromeliad family are considered epiphytes, which means they absorb nutrients and moisture through there leaves. They are known to have a root system, but the roots act more as an anchoring mechanism versus a means of nutrient absorption like most other plants. Other familiar varieties of Epiphytes include orchids, staghorn fern and Spanish moss.
The air plant has a life cycle of growing to maturity and blooming, in this growing cycle your plant will start producing young pups, most plant will produce between 2 8 pups which in turn will mature, generally within a year and will in turn bloom and produce pups. So this year you have one plant, the next year 6 and the multiplication goes on from there. The pup can be taken off the mother to start a new plant or if kept in a clump will continue to bloom for you year after year as it keeps producing pups. Flowers can last from several days to many months, depending on the species. Most Tillandsia bloom in late winter through mid-summer.
Caring for your Air Plant
Light Keep in an area where they will be receiving bright, indirect sunlight ( less than 10 ft away from any window) or under florescent lights in the home or office. Direct sunlight should be avoided as much as possible, a couple hours is ok, but too much will deplete the moisture in the plant. If you find your air plant is not blooming, this is a sign of to little sun, so move closer to your light source.
Water Air plants are an epiphyte and do not want to grow in soil, however they definitely NEED to be watered. Although they can survive for some time without water, there appearance will suffer and eventually will die off. Follow the directions below for watering your plant on a regular basis and they will keep giving you pleasure for years to come.
How do I water my Air Plant? Watering your air plant is easy to do but there are a few general rules to give your plant the best care. First and foremost try not to use tap water, (I like to fill up a milk jug with tap water and allow to sit for a week, this becomes my water for my house plants. Distilled water works great too.) Once a week give your plant a good bath, Remember that air plants get their nutrients through there leaves so place them face down in the bowl for about an hour, when done place them sideways on a paper towel to let dry for about 4 hours. After that place them back in there designed area. If your air plant is in bloom, submerge them just enough to NOT get their flowers wet. A sign of your plant not having enough moisture will show in their leaves. A healthy plant will have a full, succulent appearance and ones that are deficient will have wrinkled or rolled leaves. Humidity is also an important factor in the health of your plant and they love a humid environment. You can achieve this by give them a mist of water a few times a week.
Temperature Air plants will do best in warmer conditions, a range of 50 to 90 degrees is ideal.
Grooming Trim any dried or brown leaves and the roots if there in the way or if you dont like the appearance of them, remember the roots are only an anchor and dont take in nutrients so you will not harm them if trimmed away.
Fertilizing Fertilizing is not necessary, however you will see a happier and healthier plant, fertilizing also will help to encourage bloom. Use an all purpose miracle grow in a very light solution (about a ¼ strength) once per month between March and October.