Air Plant is the familiar name frequently used for those small, tropical looking plants often found hanging from a display in the garden section of many big box stores. It is a type of plant with hundreds of varieties of evergreen perennials in the family of plants known as Bromeliaceae. They are native to forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America and are also found in the southern United States and the West Indies. While they are currently being farmed and propagated all over the world, their natural environment is anywhere warm and moist with filtered sunlight.
Never use copper in anything that will touch air plants – copper will kill air plants
Don’t over-water plants or let them sit for extended periods of time in wet moss, sand or other base – this will cause rot
Don’t allow plants to sit in strong sunlight for extended periods of time – this will cause the plants to dehydrate too quickly and die
Air Plants are a favorite for use in terrariums and simple, indoor displays and for gardeners like me who don’t have much of a green thumb. Due to their naturally small size, they are also perfect for decorating fairy gardens and similar displays but they are also ideal for creating your own personal, miniature rock balancing garden or a unique Zen garden on your desktop.
As long as you follow a few basic guidelines, caring for Air Plants is quite easy making them the ideal plant for:
Air Plants have just a few basic needs:
- Filtered Light
Air Plants do not need soil; when left to grow in dirt, air plants will rot and die. They only use their roots to attach themselves to objects for support. All their nourishment comes from sun, air and water absorbed through their leaf system. Contrary to popular belief, they do not live on air alone. An adequate supply of water and filtered sunlight is essential to a healthy air plant.
There are many varieties of air plant but generally the household variety can be as small as an inch or up to several inches tall.
They grow slowly and come in various shapes and colors. The average air plant is about 2 to 4 inches high. Some are short and well packed; others are long and lean reminding one of an alien species. A mature Air Plant flowers once in its lifetime and may then produce babies which are called ‘pups’. Pups begin growing at the base of a mature plant and can be gently removed to grow on their own once they reach about 1/3 the size of the parent plant.
How to Care For Air Plants
Here are the basics for Air Plant care:
- Give plants as much bright light as possible but not strong, direct sunlight. Fluorescent lighting works well.
- Use only tap water or rain water on your plants. Do not use mineral water or other bottled water.
- Water plants by misting the leaves about once a week, more in very dry locations. Avoid allowing water to settle into the heart of the plant as this can cause the plant to rot and die.
- Water plants deeply about every two weeks by immersing them in a bowl of room temperature water for about ten minutes, shake off the water and allow to dry.
- Give plants an interesting base for display. Plants should be able to be removed for watering. If your air plants attaches itself to the base by its roots, you will want to be able to occasionally dip the plant end into a bowl for deep watering.
How to Display Air Plants
Your imagination is your only limit!
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Tips for Displaying Air Plants
- Use clear, nylon thread to hang air plants in a window display
- Attach air plants to macrame projects with light thread
- Combine different types and colors of plants in glass gardens or terrariums
- Mount plants with small stones or clean sand for stability in containers
- Use copper in anything that will touch air plants – copper will kill air plants
- Over-water plants or let them sit for extended periods of time in wet moss, sand or other base – this will cause rot
- Allow plants to sit in strong sunlight for extended periods of time – this will cause the plants to dehydrate too quickly and die