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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
2012-10-15 10 37 08
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Awesome Air Plants

Ok I'll admit it, I may be an air plant addict. I expanded my air plant collection once again this weekend. I just couldnt resist!

Air plants are awesome not only because of their interesting plant forms, but they may just be one of the most low maintenance indoor plants to grow. With just the occasional misting or soaking, these interesting plants can thrive indoors without using any soil at all.

Air plants (Tillandsia sp.) are a member of the Bromeliad family and are epiphytic, meaning that they do not live in soil but survive by clinging to a tree or other supports such as rocks.

Epiphytes obtain all their water and mineral needs from the air. The tiny silver scales that cover the plant absorb all its moisture and nutrients. Because of this, it's best to handle the plants as little as possible to avoid accidentally rubbing off the scales.

Due to their epiphytic nature, air plants can be mounted on a board, branch, shell or various other surfaces or simply placed in a container with rocks or stones. This mounting can be down with glue or wire, just be sure to mount on a solid substrate that does not retain water and don't cover the base of the plant with moss or it may rot. This versatility is perhaps the best feature of air plants because it allows for some very unique displays and uses that can't be done with other indoor plants.

In order to obtain the moisture they need, air plants need frequent (every 2-3 days) misting with water or one could immerse the entire plant in room-temperature water for about half an hour every week to 10 days. Air plants can also be grown in a kitchen or bathroom window, where the humidity from washing dishes or taking showers will supply them with water. In addition, they should be misted occasionally with very dilute liquid fertilizer.

In terms of lighting, placing air plants in a bright window that is southern, western, or eastern facing, but not in direct sunlight is best. Indoor fluorescent lighting may also be used as supplemental lighting.

Producing new air plants is also simple. Air plants reproduce by putting out offsets, or pups, from the base of the mother plant. When the pups are half the size of the mother, they can be divided and mounted on their own.

Overall the interesting forms and shapes of air plants and the ease of care make them an excellent choice for growing indoors this winter. If you've never ventured into growing air plants, now is the perfect time to try!


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