Quirky, low maintenance house plants that grow without soil, air plants (specifically Tillandsia) are quickly becoming a staple in eclectic and contemporary interiors alike. However, as we started incorporating them into our own home decor, we found that we really knew nothing about them! After extensive research and asking our followers for their own questions on the subject, here is our condensed rundown on everything you need to know about air plants:
Although air plants do not require any soil to grow, they DO still need adequate water, light and (optional) fertilization.
So how do you water a plant that isn't in soil? You soak it! Fill your sink, a bucket or large bowl with water and simply submerge your plants, allowing them to soak for about 10 minutes.
After your plants have absorbed enough moisture, remove them from the water, shaking off any excess, and lay them out to dry completely. A tea towel on the kitchen counter is perfect for this.
Be sure all surface water has evaporated before returning your plants to their display, and do not soak them again until they are completely dried out (Note: If your plant has blooms, do NOT submerge the bloom itself for more than a few seconds, otherwise the petals will dissolve). Depending on your climate and humidity, you'll need to water your plants anywhere from once to three times each week.
As for lighting, air plants thrive in filtered, indirect sunlight. Avoid south facing windows or skylights, as they may cause burning.
Lastly, if your supplier provided you with fertilizer for your plants, use it! Fertilizer isn't completely necessary, but it will help your air plants grow, bloom and reproduce quickly. We give our Tillandsia a quick spritz of fertilizer about once every two weeks, just after soaking.
(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)
With proper care, air plants will bloom themselves whenever they are ready. Apparently, it is possible to speed the process along by exposing your plant to Ethylene gas, most easily by placing it in a plastic bag with half an apple for about a week. We haven't tried that method and can't speak to its effectiveness! It should be noted that Tillandsia only bloom once in their lives, afterwhich they begin reproducing "pups," which do eventually kill the mother plant.
So, you know how to keep your air plants alive and even help them bloom, but what should you do with them? Many air plant lovers mount theirs to driftwood or cork (any mount that doesn't hold moisture) using waterproof glue, twist ties, staples or nails. Another popular choice is a small hanging base or terrarium, as long as at least one of the sides is open, to allow for airflow. Your options are pretty open with their dirt-less demeanor, so even just placing them around the house on their own is a great way to add some greenery to a space!
Of course, our favorite way to display our air plants is in our own collection of Planters, Pots and Vases. For larger planters, we just add a few crumpled paper towels in the bottom to use as a base, which lifts the plants and offers a full display.
Using this technique, you can have fun arranging your air plants in just about any pot, including the Cement Slant Planter,
or, our favorite, the Standing Elephant Planter!
(View the rest of our collection at www.nookandsill.com)Shipping or Purchasing Air Plants Online
In this digital age, it seems like there isn't anything we can't either get from the internet or ship to a loved one, and thankfully, air plants are no exception! Tillandsias travel and ship well (they are NOT parasitic and are not restricted by the USPS), as long as they are healthy before the shipping process and watered two days in advance, with a longer soaking process, making sure that the plant is completely dry before packing. Once you (or your recipient) receive the air plants, give them another good soak upon arrival. They should be wrapped in paper to avoid bruising, and never packed in plastic. Plenty of reputable sites specialize in online ordering, and will pack and ship them with the health of the plant in mind. Our favorite source is Aquatic Arts - the plants arrive in beautiful, thriving condition every time.
We hope this answers some of your questions about air plants, or even inspires you to take the leap to try them in your own home! Be sure to tag us in your air plant photos on Instagram or comment below with your own suggestions!
Ted & Anna