Epiphytes or Air Plants are native to warm areas such as Florida and Central America. They are mainly characterised by the fact that they possess no roots, instead they absorb water and nutrients through their leaves. Contrary to their common name, Air Plants do not live on air and some species are aquatic, growing on seaweed.
Air Plants do not harm their host, instead they 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 harvested.
Air Plants require:
- Constant air circulation: As the name indicates, air is paramount to keeping your plant happy.
- Some moisture: Mist daily from late spring to mid-autumn. In winter, mist only once or twice a week.
- Fertiliser: Fertilise monthly in spring and summer by using a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer mixed at only one-quarter strength. In general, fertilise weekly.
- Sun protection: Although they love warm weather, most Air Plants need protection from full sun. Certain species grow naturally wild on trees – these should be kept moist and placed in partial shade. If it is a ground type, grow it indoors in bright, filtered light or outdoors in partial or dappled shade.
Hanging Air Plants are a popular design element. Single Air Plants look great as architectural features or they can be grouped in terrarium.
Air Plants that are naturally suited to grow 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 essentially like the same conditions.