Air Plant (Tillandsia species)
Tillandsias are a diverse group of plants known as “epiphytes”, or air plants. In their native habitat of Central and South America, Tillandsias are found growing anchored to tree branches or rock walls. Plants attach themselves with roots, but nutrients are absorbed through the foliage. Incredibly easy to grow, and available in a fascinating array of foliage forms and bloom colors.
Plants can be mounted to all sorts of supports for hanging on a wall, such as wooden plaques, branches, or bark. Very popular for growing tucked in a large seashell. Little plants are ideal for small glass orb terrariums or simply dangling from a string in a window with bright, indirect light. A wonderful easy-care gift plant!
Monthly with balanced liquid fertilizer (quarter strength) during active growth.
Thoroughly soak the mounting stone or wood, and allow to dry well before watering again. Those not mounted should be soaked in water once a week and misted daily during active growth.
If needed, use orchid bark mix.
Basic Care Summary
Fertilize regularly. Once a week submerge plant in water and soak for about an hour. Allow to dry for a few hours before returning to planter. Mist daily during active growth.
If the plant was purchased in a pot, then it is probably already in a quality potting mix and requires little more than watering and grooming. Epiphytes rarely need to be repotted.
Epiphytes grow on other plants. They can be grown in a light, well-drained mix of bark, composted peat and perlite, or, rather than growing in a pot, epiphytes’ roots can be wrapped in sphagnum moss and the entire plant can then be mounted onto wood or other surfaces.
When repotting, start with a good quality, sterile bark mix. Select a container with a drainage hole or be prepared to drill holes for drainage if there are none.
Prepare the container by filling with potting mix up to 2” (5cm) from the rim of the planter. Make a small hole in the soil slightly larger than the root ball either by hand or using a trowel. Insert the plant into the hole and press soil firmly around the roots and just covering the root ball. Once potted, water thoroughly to settle the soil and give the plant a good start.
Epiphytes prefer the bark mix to dry in between thorough watering. Check the bark mix moisture with your finger. If the top inch (3 cm) of bark is dry, it’s time to water. Apply water at the soil level if possible to avoid wetting the plant. Water the entire soil area until water runs out the base of the pot. This indicates that the soil is thoroughly wet. Discard any excess water that has accumulated in the pot’s saucer.
Epiphytes that are not potted in a container should be misted well at least three times a week, more often if the air is dry. Mist all the foliage so that the water can absorb through the leaves. The plant can also be submerged in water for two to three minutes, once a week for a more thorough watering.
Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic.
Liquid fertilizer is the best for plants that aren't potted in a container. These types of epiphytes absorb the plant food through the leaves. Select a product with a nutritional balance of 20-20-20 and dilute it to a quarter the recommended strength.
Slow-release fertilizer is the best for potted epiphytes. Select a product with a nutritional balance of 20-20-20 and lightly sprinkle the plant food at the base of the plant.
Too much fertilizer can damage plants so it’s important to follow the package directions to determine how much, and how often, to feed plants.
Most epiphytes require little or no pruning. Cascading forms can be trimmed back to maintain a preferred size. To prune, choose a point along the stem where the leaves branch. Cut just above this point so the buds for new growth aren't removed.
Some plants will re-bloom on their own, but others may have very specific day-length or temperature requirements to flower again. A bit of research may be necessary to determine what is needed to encourage future blooming.
|Available Colors:||Flowers in shades of pink, red, yellow, orange and purple|
|Bloom Time:||All year|
|Height Range:||3-12" (8-30cm)|
|Space Range:||3-12" (8-30cm)|
|Lowest Temperature:||50° to 80°F (10° to 27°C)|
|Plant Light:||Medium Light|
|Companion Plants:||Orchid, Wandering Jew, Fern|