Article Written By: Johan Jansen van Vuuren
Store Manager @ GardenShop Menlo Park
The true name for Air Plants is Epiphytes, they are plants native to warm areas such as Florida and Central America. They absorb water and nutrients through their leaves and are mainly characterized by the fact that they possess no roots. Contrary to their common name, air plants DO NOT live on air, some species are even aquatic and grow on seaweed.
Air plants do not harm their host, they instead, use it as support. When attached to trees, they grow root-like tendrils to latch themselves in place, which can be safely broken off if harvesting.
How to take care of Air Plants:
- Constant air circulation — as the name indicates — is paramount to keeping your plant happy.
- Air plants need some moisture; from late spring to mid-autumn, mist daily. In winter, mist only once or twice a week.
- Fertilize monthly in spring and summer using a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer mixed at only one-quarter strength. In general, fertilize weakly.
- Although they love warm weather, most air plants need protection from full sun. If it’s a type that grows naturally wild on trees, keep it in moist, partial shade. If it is a ground type, grow it indoors in bright, filtered light and outdoors in partial or dappled shade.
Air plants look great alone as architectural elements or in an air plants terrarium.
Air plants that are naturally suited to growing in trees can be lashed against a protected wooden post using translucent fishing monofilament and a bit of sphagnum moss to add extra moisture. Tillandsia species also make fine companions on a planted branch with orchids since they like essentially the same conditions. Hanging air plants are a popular design element.