Tillandsia (“air plants”) are members of the bromeliad family, numbering over 500 species. Most are epiphytes, using their root structures to attach themselves to tree branches and rocks. They are found in rain forests and deserts, in elevations from sea level to mountain peaks in Central, South and the warmer climates of North America. They absorb all moisture and nutrients through suction scales (trichomes) on their foliage. They can be displayed mounted on driftwood, or in glass terrariums as a contemporary easy care terrarium.
Caring for your Air Plants:
Light: Tillandsia prefer medium to bright filtered light. As a rule, the silver/grey varieties can tolerate full sun, while the green varieties prefer some shade. Ideally, Tillandsia should be placed within 3 feet from a window.
Watering: Thoroughly soak Tillandsia by heavy misting till the water runs off the foliage 2-3 times per week in hot climates, once a week in cooler ones. Submerging Tillandsia underwater for 30-60 minutes is also acceptable, although care must be exercised to keep the bloom as dry as possible. Place in a location with good air circulation to ensure they dry within 4 hours after watering. Water in the morning to ensure the plants are dry before nightfall. If the leaves begin to curl or roll, the plant is dehydrated. Its health can be restored by submerging in water for 6-8 hours, then resuming the regular watering schedule.
Fertilizer: Feed once a month with a water soluble fertilizer at 1/4 strength. Nitrogen should be in the form of ammonium or nitrate (urea requires bacteria from soil to break down, which is absent in air plants). A good mix is 10-15-20. Phostrogen works well.
Flowering: Tillandsia normally flowers once a year, with blooms lasting a few days to more than one year. They are very slow goring, but the mother plants produce up to 4 “pups” or “offsets” from their base when they are finished flowering. These pups grow slowly , with each producing 4 offspring that will all eventually flower. The large clumps or colonies that are produced in time are quite spectacular.
Temperature: 50 to 90 degrees F, with good circulation.
Pests: Use a mild insecticidal soap to remove the occasional mealy bug. Never use white oil or any sprays containing copper.
These are now available in Craft Warehouse stores!