One of the most unique plants that I’ve come across is a member of the bromeliad family called Tillandsia. It’s more commonly known as “The Air Plant” and while it might sound quite exotic and perhaps challenging to grow it really is not a demanding plant at all. Air Plants are native to South and Central America as well as the Southern United States. There are hundreds of different varieties of this plant which in their natural environment can grow in forests, mountains, and even deserts. If you live in warmer garden zones in the United States, such as zones 9 through 11, you can even grow these plants outdoors but for the majority of gardeners, however, this is a houseplant.
Air Plants are Epiphytes which means they have no need for soil as they absorb all of the water and nutrients they need through their leaves. The roots are used only as anchors for the plant and in the wild, they are capable of growing on rocks or tree branches. Indoors these plants can be grown in terrariums, seashells, glass orbs, or bowls and even can be attached to wooden boards by using water-soluble glue or fishing line. You should feel free to use your imagination as given the right growing conditions they can be grown on just about anything that they can be attached too.
Since there are so many different types of these plants you just need to be sure you obtain the right one for your growing conditions. The watering requirements for Air Plants can vary as during the spring through autumn they may need to be misted daily but during the winter they may only need to be watered once or twice a week. Air Plants with thinner foliage grow in rainy conditions in the wild so they will require an environment that is consistently humid. You can meet this requirement by misting them regularly and watering them several times a week by rinsing them under a faucet. Plants with a thicker leaf grow in areas that are drier and some of these can survive a month or more without regular watering. Additionally, air plants will benefit from regular feeding with either a fertilizer made specifically for bromeliads or another liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro, mixed at one-quarter of its usual strength.
You’ll find that most houseplants are sensitive to temperature changes but Air Plants are an exception. As long as they are not subjected to conditions where frost will occur they will do just fine indoors or even outdoors during the warmer months of the year. The one item to pay particularly close attention to is the amount of light that the plant will be subjected to. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves so bright but indirect lighting conditions work best. You can even grow these plants in offices as long as they are kept under fluorescent lighting for much of the day.
Finally, if you have the right type of Air Plant and you give it these conditions, it is possible for them to actually flower. The blooms will last from one to two months and at the end of their blooming period, they actually may produce new plants, known as pups, at the base of the plant. So if you want to try something a little different, why not try an Air Plant today?