Air Plant Varieties, Care, and Display
There are 660 species of air plants that make up the genus Tillandsia in the bromeliad family (Bromeliaceae). Air plants, as their name suggests, do not require soil to grow. They obtain nutrients and moisture from the air through specialized leaf structures called trichomes.
Popular air plant varieties include:
1. Tillandsia ionantha: This is one of the most common and well-known varieties. It has bright green leaves that turn a vibrant red or purple when it blooms.
2. Tillandsia stricta: This variety has stiff, upright leaves in shades of green, silver, and even pink. It produces pink or purple flowers when it blooms.
3. Tillandsia bulbosa: It has long, thin leaves that curl and twist, giving it a unique appearance. When it blooms, it produces purple or blue flowers.
4. Tillandsia xerographica: This variety has thick, silver-gray leaves forming rosette shapes. It is highly sought after for its dramatic appearance and can grow quite large.
5. Tillandsia aeranthos: It has soft, flexible green leaves with a hint of silver. When it blooms, it produces vibrant pink or purple flowers.
6. Tillandsia capitata: This variety has slender, silvery-green leaves that form a spherical rosette shape. It produces purple flowers with yellow bracts when it blooms.
7. Tillandsia streptophylla: It is often called the “shrimp plant” due to its twisted, contorted leaves resembling shrimp tails. It has a silvery-gray color and produces pink or purple flowers.
These are just a few examples of the many varieties of air plants available. Each variety has unique beauty and care requirements, so make sure to research and provide proper care for your specific type of air plant.
There are almost endless possibilities for displaying air plants both indoors and out. Cups, shells, goblets, antlers, driftwood, cork pieces, glass vases, and wire coils can display air plants upright, upside down, or sideways! The choice of materials can complement a range of styles, from rustic to modern. Because they are epiphytes (they derive their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and debris around them and only use their roots for support), the plants can be hung from objects or encouraged to root onto a substrate. There are just a few simple rules for keeping air plants happy and healthy, and they can relate to how you display them.
Air plants need bright, filtered light. Indoors, place them no further than 3 feet from an east or west window. Watch for leaf burn if they get too much direct sun. Although they can withstand temperatures ranging from 100°F temperatures to freezing, they do best between 50 and 90°. The watering regime is essential. Spray mist their leaves until dripping 2-3 times per week. Depending on whether your air plant is attached to an object or can be removed, submerge them in tepid water for from a half hour to several hours each week. Afterward, ensure sufficient air circulation allows them to dry within 4 hours. Fertilize monthly with dilute orchid fertilizer, although this isn’t typically necessary.
To display in cups, shells, or hung in wire coils, screens, grates, or nooks of branches, merely place them – no medium is necessary. Alternatively, the plants can be placed on media such as moss, Spanish moss, reindeer moss, sand, rocks, or lichen, as long as the base is primarily open to the air to avoid fungus and decomposition.
Air plants can be attached to almost any surface as long as they are positioned to dry sufficiently after watering. Attach them with wire, fishing line, or a non-petroleum adhesive to aid in rooting. If you use a glue gun, allow 20 seconds for the glue to cool before placing the plant. Placing air plants in baskets and watering them overhead without removing them will allow the roots to penetrate the basket.
Click Here for a PDF air plant care guide.
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