Air plants, scientifically known as Tillandsia, are a genus of more than 650 species of evergreen, perennial flowering plants in the family of Bromeliaceae. Guatemala Ionantha is one of the most common members of the group. These low maintenance plants are native to northern Mexico, Argentina, Caribbean, Mesoamerica, and south-eastern United States forests and mountains. They are referred to as Air Plants because they absorb their nutrients from air around them. They are widely loved for their ability to remain green throughout seasons.
Unlike typical plants, air plants do not have sophisticated root systems. They have a few simple roots whose primary purpose is to hold onto surfaces they grow. High humidity levels and frequent rainfalls characterize air plants’ native environments. This implies, for the plant to achieve optimal growth, growers must simulate rainforest environments. Experts’ advice suggests air plants should be watered at least once in a week.
To water, put the plant in a sink or bowl and submerge it in water. Let it remain soaked for about half an hour and then turn it upside down on a towel, let the water drain. Once the plant is dry, return it to its designated spot. It is also recommendable to mist the plat at least once every two days, especially during winter, when humidity levels are low.
Light and temperature
In the wild, air plants grow in tree canopies where they are shielded from direct sunlight. It is noble to locate your plants away from direct sunlight. They do best in brightly lit areas away from direct sunlight. Some species like Tillandsia cyanea and Tillandsia lindenii can handle dappled shades and morning sunlight. Scientific research shows that they achieve maximum growth in warmer environments. Temperatures below 45°F limit growth and can cause plant death if the situation persists for long.
Air plants require fertilizing for blossoming and reproduction. Incorporating orchid or Bromeliad fertilizer once or twice a month in the watering routine will keep the plant supplied with all the necessary nutrients. Fertilizing involves adding a pinch of the fertilizer in watering or misting water and proceeding with the standard watering procedure.
Pruning and styling
Air plants do not need pruning, but in case of elongated leaves, just remove using typical pruning tools. Though air plants naturally look beautiful, placing them in terrariums or attaching them to driftwoods can enhance their display and make them even more appealing. Also, they can be placed in glass or plastic globes made explicitly for hanging them. Varieties with colorful leaves can be complemented using colors that match their hues.
Air plants mark the peak of their life by flowering. After flowering, a majority of the species start to die slowly. Just before, during, or after the plant flowers and starts descending, it reproduces between two to eight pups. These pups can be separated from the mother plant and placed in their locations where they can grow independently. However, it is crucial to allow the baby plants to grow to a third or half size of the mother plant before separating. Separated plants can be placed in terrariums or anything and attached using hot glue or translucent fishing line.
Air plants are low-maintenance non-poisonous plants that require strict watering schedules. Some of the critical hints that your plant is not receiving enough water are leaf tips turning brown or crispy and the natural concave shape of leaves becoming exaggerated. Leaves falling out and the base turning brown or black is a sign of over-watering. Unfortunately, recovering over-watered plants is almost impossible. Waxy cotton-like substances are an indication of mealybugs or scale attack, which can be rectified by applying regular pesticides.