Friday, December 3, 2021

Tillandsias

AKA “Air Plants” Are Fun to Grow!

Photos by Maria Lamb | Versatile – you can grow Tillandsia inside a sea shell or using a mini vase.


 

Photos by Maria Lamb | Clumps of Tillandsias – in the wild their roots cling to tree trunks or branches and they do not need soil to grow.

Connie Lowery of the Calusa Garden Club never met a Tillandsia she did not like! For ConnieTillandsias or “Tillys” are the perfect patio or house plant. They are spiky, fuzzy, round, trailing like ponytail, with many colors and they have delicate miniature flowers. 

Cristina Leske, another member of the garden clubbecame interested in Tillandsia after a talk with Connie. She started collecting them and also used theas table centerpieces for a rehearsal dinner for one of her sons who had a beach destination wedding. Cristina also got hooked on Tillandsias. 

Tillandsias are air plants or epiphytes, which means that they do not require soil to grow. In nature, they grow on other plantstheir roots clinging to tree trunks or branches. Tillandsias will grow on bushes, rocks, shrubs, even glass bowlsterrariums and the inside of seashells. Tillandsias are low-maintenance plants and require little space. 

There are many types of Tillandsiassilver, green, smooth, thin leaves like grass types and thick leathery ones.  

Photo by Cristina Leske | Colorful Tillandsias arranged on a piece of driftwood. It makes for an elegant centerpiece.

The best thing about Tillandsiayou can mount or glue them to hang on a wall or arrange them in a planter suspended from the ceiling and you don’t have to know which side is up or down or sideways. 

Air plants can’t live on air alone and get their nutrition by absorbing water through their leaves. In nature, this is no problem. As an indoor plant, however, a good rule of thumb is to water an air plant once a week especially if your house is too dryIt will tell you when they need more or less water.  

Air Plant Bath – Remove them from wherever you have them displayed. For the author, no matter the type of tillandsia, I water mine the sameI throw them in the sink full of water and let them soak for at least ½ hour. Sometimes I forget and they soak much longer. That won’t hurt the plant. 

 



 

Remove the plant from its water bath and hold upside down and give it a good shake to get rid of excess water. Return the air plants to their regular container until the next Air Plant Bath. The most common problem people have with air plants are due to incorrect watering. 

When you buy Tillandsias from a nursery or big box store, the label recommends spritzing them with water from a misting bottle a few times a week. In the wild, they absorb moisture from the air which is much more humid than indoorsso it’s preferable to soak them to rehydrate them. 

Like all plants, they do need sunlight. Just because they don’t need soil, doesn’t mean it can survive without air or light. Air plants prefer several hours a day of indirect light. 

Photos by Maria Lamb | Connie Lowery with a display of thin-leaved Tillandsia growing out of a clay sculpture.

Tillandsias can brighten a dull location with minimal effort. Use air plants rather than gold fish for your terrarium and accessorize with colored marbles, rocks, corals or moss. They also look great on a metal frame on your patio wall, as Connie and Cristina did.  

Tillandsia’s bloom comes in arrays of colors such as red, purple, yellow, orange and magenta and you can blend the colors to get the most appeal.  

If you live a hectic and busy life, the easy-care nature of Tillandsia is perfect. They are perfect for any space since you can customize their containers and you can easily move them from one location to another. 

Tillandsias are resistant to disease and pests as well. With the right amount of water and light, they will last longer and they don’t die off easily. Plus, they have Air Babies which will grow from the main plant which you can transfer to another containerthus increasing your collection or share them as gifts. 

 


 

2 responses to “Tillandsias”

  1. Fantastic article on tillandsia! The photos really show off the versatility of these air plants.

  2. Susan LaGrotta says:

    Once again Maria Lamb provides an interesting and informative article on a a unique subject. The colorful photos are helpful to demonstrate , how to go about using this information !

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