Air Plant Care Guide
Air plants are great for beginners and places that don’t get much light! They need very little sun exposure and don’t need any soil or substraight to survive. Because of this adaptation they can be displayed in an infinite number of creative ways including terrariums, bowls, airplant frames, or mounted on peices of wood, and have become popular house plants!
Air plants (also called Tillandsia or air fern and closely related to bromeliads) are mostly native to tropical rain forest areas. There they grow on the sides of trees using root-like anchors (though they are not actually roots!) under the canopy level. They uptake nutrients by absorbing micro flora and moisture from their air through tiny openings in their leaves. They also photosynthesize to make simple sugars just like any other plant. However, their capability to produce enough sugar to keep themselves sustained is limited as many common species we keep as house plants have adapted to being in shaded areas. They prefer indirect light (such as through a window on the other side of the room or through a curtain) and need to be misted about twice a week. Because of their low sugar production fertilizing monthly is an important part of air plant care. Air plants that are not fertilized regularly tend to suffer from compromised immune systems are are far more susceptible to under and over watering.
WATERING & FERTILIZING
To water mist until all the surface area of the plant is wet. Avoid pooling in the nooks and crannies between the leaves. If water collects there when you water turn the plant up-side-down and allow excess water to drain. You can also give it a good shake to drain extra moisture.
Some species may also prefer a weekly soak instead of or in addition to misting. To soak submerge in luke-warm water for 10 – 20 minutes (like they’re going for a swim). Remove the plants from the water and allow to dry up-side-down before replacing in their displays. Air plants with thinner leaves tend to benefit more from regular soakings.
After you water is the best time to fertilize! The small openings in their leaves are open after they’ve taken up water so they get the best benefit out of fertilizing. Spray an air plant fertilizer (if you don’t have one give our organic fertilizer spray a try – made in house do we know its good!) 1-2 times per month after watering.
Occasionally the lower leaves of air plants may die – this is a normal part of the aging process. Any unsightly leaves can be removed or trimmed.
If the tips of your leaves turn brown this is a sign that they are not getting -quite- enough water or fertilizer. Take this as a sign to increase watering just a touch. Dry tips can be clipped off with sharp scissors. This will not harm the plant.
All air plants will flower at least one time in their lives! Most air plants will live roughly 3-5 years and will flower when they reach maturity. Air plant flowers are bright and beautiful – normally hot pinks, bright purples and florescent oranges! Once the flower has come and gone the dried blossom can be cut back. About 6 months after the flower dies back most species will begin pupping! Pupping is when baby air plants begin to grow off the base of the adult plant! As the pups mature the parent will slowly die back leaving 2-6 baby air plants in their place! Pups can be removed from their parent plant once the parent plant begins to die off.