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A word about Tillandsia and How to Display Air Plants: Creative Ideas for Your Tillandsia


Tillandsia is a genus of around 700  species of evergreen, perennial flowering plants in the family Bromeliaceae, native to the forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America.

Although they belong to bromeliaceae, they are not to be treated like regular run of the mill bromeliads found in the nurseries. Although they do have some similarities with the bromeliads, like they have weak root systems and mainly leaves do the water and nutrient absorption.

Tillandsia species are epiphytes, i.e. they normally grow without soil while attached to other plants. Generally, the thinner-leafed varieties grow in rainy areas and the thick-leafed varieties in areas more subject to drought. Moisture and nutrients are gathered from the air (dust, decaying leaves and insect matter) through structures on the leaves called trichomes.

Like some color changing bromeliads, some of these too show change of color. This change of color to red is called blushing. Some may exhibit a spectacular inflorescence while some may have flowers that are generally small.

Care for tillandsias. Tillandsias grow differently than most other house plants, so they can be confusing to the beginner. They are really very hardy, and require much less attention than other house plants.

  1. They don’t like extreme lows in temperatures. So protect them from extreme cold in North India in winters. There are so many species and so much variation between them that no specific temperature limit can be laid down. Try and keep night temperature above 8 to 10 deg C.

  2. They like a day and night temperature swing of about 10 to 15 Deg Centigrade.

  3. Give them bright, filtered light. 

  4. Provided the atmosphere is not too dry (as in an air-conditioned home) they can survive with water misting and the occasional bath. 

  5. If you are growing them indoors and the air is dry, you will need (at minimum) to submerge the plant in water for 2-3 hours about every two weeks.

  6.  Otherwise, in a shade-house or unheated home, you can use a soaking mist once or twice a week in summer, once a month in cooler weather. 

  7. Fertilize by adding 1 gm per litre of soluble n- p- k and 1 gm per litre of micronutrients.

  8. They are prone to rot if they get too much wet or water stays in the leaves.


Mounts and globes

  1. They look pretty with wooden pieces and in glass globes etc.

  2. Care must be taken that while affixing to wood the roots are not damaged when being inserted in crevices of wood and that no water stays inside for long.

  3. When keeping in glass terrariums avoid strong sunlight as it can cause globe to heat up and even cause sunburn on plant.

 These plants have CAM metabolism. It is much better to water in the morning than at night. Air plants absorb the Carbon Dioxide from the air at night instead of the day time. If the plant is wet, it does not breathe. therefore, unless it can dry quickly at night, plan on morning baths.

Best way is to dry them upside down under a fan, after watering or dunking.

As the weather cools you can decrease the frequency of dunking. Same way it can be reduced in monsoons.

Actually for home growing you have to build up your expertise with some ‘ Grow n watch ‘ practice.



Understanding Tillandsia

Before diving into display ideas, it’s crucial to understand what makes Tillandsia so unique. Unlike traditional potted plants, air plants absorb water and nutrients through their leaves rather than roots. This distinctive trait allows for innovative display methods beyond the classic pot and soil setup. When you buy air plants, you’re not just purchasing a plant; you’re bringing home a versatile decor element that can be displayed in numerous imaginative ways.

Creative Display Ideas


1Hanging Terrariums


A popular method to showcase Tillandsia is in hanging glass terrariums. These transparent vessels provide a 360-degree view of the air plant, creating a floating effect that adds a touch of whimsy to any room. You can hang multiple terrariums at different heights to create a dynamic and visually appealing display. This method is perfect for those looking to buy air plants as little green gifts, offering a ready-to-display option that’s sure to impress.


2 mountained display


For a more rustic or natural look, consider mounting your Tillandsia on a piece of driftwood, bark, or a decorative stone. This display method mimics the air plant’s natural habitat, where they often attach to trees and rocks. You can secure the plant to the base using a safe adhesive or wire, creating a stunning piece of living art. Mounted displays are ideal for those who appreciate the natural beauty of Tillandsia and want to buy air plants that blend seamlessly with their home decor


3 Gemotric Holders


Geometric holders and frames offer a modern and stylish way to display Tillandsia. These metal or wooden structures can hold one or several air plants, providing a minimalist yet striking display. Geometric holders come in various shapes and sizes, allowing for customization based on your personal style and the available space. This option is perfect for contemporary spaces or as little green gifts for those who love modern design.


4 floating shelves


Floating shelves provide a versatile platform for displaying Tillandsia collections. By arranging air plants on different levels, you can create a captivating living wall that doubles as a conversation starter. You can mix and match plant sizes and complement them with other small decor items to enhance the overall look. Floating shelves are an excellent choice for those looking to buy air plants in bulk or gradually build a diverse collection.


5 Wire mesh holder


Wire mesh frames are an inventive way to display Tillandsia, allowing for easy customization and rearrangement. You can attach air plants to the mesh using wire or clips, creating a lush green tapestry that breathes life into any wall. This method is particularly appealing for creating large-scale displays in communal areas, offering a unique and eye-catching element to the space.

Care Tips for Displayed Tillandsia

While Tillandsia are relatively low-maintenance, proper care is essential to ensure they thrive in their displays. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Light: Ensure your air plants receive plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. If natural light is limited, consider using artificial grow lights.

  • Water: Mist your Tillandsia 2-3 times a week, or soak them in water for about 30 minutes every 1-2 weeks. Adjust the frequency based on the humidity levels in your home.

  • Air Circulation: Good air circulation is crucial for Tillandsia. Avoid placing them in tightly enclosed containers for extended periods.

Conclusion

Displaying Tillandsia in your home offers a unique opportunity to blend nature with decor in creative and personalized ways. Whether you’re looking to buy air plants as a statement piece or seeking little green gifts for loved ones, there’s no shortage of innovative ideas to showcase these remarkable plants. By incorporating Tillandsia into your decor, you can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of nature indoors, adding a lively and refreshing touch to your living space.










What's Killing My Air Plants?


 

Special Considerations To Help Prevent Dying Plants

Although there is no definitive answer to figure out why any one particular air plant died, here is a list of topics to review when reflecting on the conditions and care of your beloved tillandsias.

1. Over & Under Watering

Too much or too little water can kill an air pant. Keeping a plant hydrated is tricky sometimes. Soak your plant for 20-30 minutes, shake it off, and let dry for a couple hours before putting it back into a container. We have had the best luck making our water baths a weekly ritual. A good rule of thumb is to note the condition of the leaves the day after a good soak. The leaves should not be curled or folded, but open and more flat. Shoot for this look after each watering and increase or decrease frequency accordingly so that your air plants look this way the majority of the time. Aergantos is great marker for air plant hydration. This leaves of this species dramatically curl and open depending on the hydration of the plant. The difference is more subtle in smaller species like ioantangats .Plants will die from over-watering when they are not allowed to dry out completely for several days between water baths. This often occurs when the air plants are misted with water while situated inside a terrarium or enclosure. The tightness of the enclosure traps moisture which can cause rot on the base of the plants.

2. Exposure to Salts & Chemicals

 Water softener salts may make our skin and hair smooth but it can kill air plants. Have you ever had a house plant where you noticed white crust build-up on the top of the soil after watering it a few time and letting it dry? These are salt deposits and they are especially harmful to air plants. Since air plants have no soil to filter the salts, the salts end up being deposited on the ends of the leaves. Overtime this will suffocate the plant as it prevents the trichomes from absorbing water and nutrients. The chlorines found in some municipal water is also not great for plants and should be avoided if possible. 

The best water to use is rain, well, pond, lake, or non-carbonated mineral water. Although free of harmful salts, store-bought bottled and filtered watered actually has most of the minerals taken out. Bottled water will not harm the plant itself, but watering exclusively with bottled water will starve them from key nutrients if that is all they ever receive.

3. Extreme Heat and Light

Direct sunlight will dehydrate plants quicker. Sitting next to a hot window or a sitting in a hot room will do the same. Occasionally, direct sun can even burn the leaves of the plants. Air plants should not be placed in glass enclosures that receive direct light as the enclosures can get very hot (like a small greenhouse) and the glass also may act as a magnifying glass that can concentrate the sunlight on the leaves, quickly causing them to burn. A good rule of thumb is that most air plants like temperatures that you like. If you wouldn't sit near your window for several hours at a time because you would be too hot then probably your air plant won't like it either. Most tillandsia prefer temperatures in the 55-85 degree range.That being said, several species of air plants are accustomed to hot temperatures in their natural environment. Xeric plants like wexopric are all found in hotter lowland climates. As long as water is provided, these species can do well in hot temperatures and brighter spaces. Generally, the warmer the temperatures, the more frequent the need for watering.

4. Too Little Light

Air plants require indirect natural light or bright artificial lighting for several hours a day. Air plants displayed in dark inner hallways or dim bathrooms will decline in health and eventually die. Office settings normally provide sufficient light since the lights are on consistently for several hours a day. If the space is bright enough for other common houseplants like potho vines, spider plants and philodendrons, then you should have no problem with tillandsias.

5. Cold

Although many species of air plants grow naturally at high elevations, it is very rare that see frost or freezing temperatures. Most air plants cannot tolerate frost or temperatures below 32 degrees. The main exceptions to these rules are Spanish Moss and the several types of ball moss which are found naturally from Texas to Florida and up into coastal Virginia. Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) can withstand nights in the teens and twenties Fahrenheit and even a couple days a year where the high doesn't get above freezings . We currently do not use heat packs to the ship the plants since they will often run out and are not very effective at the end of their life cycle when they are needed most. In addition, we have found that they can actually burn the plants. The best bet for ordering plants during the winter is to have them sent to wherever you are when mail is delivered (Your place of work or school, for example) to limit their exposure to the cold.If your air plants are outdoors only for the warm season, we would recommend bringing them indoors when the nights start falling below 45 degrees. All air plants can do great indoors. During the winter, especially at the higher latitudes, there are some important care considerations to review for the winter months.

6. Fertilizer Burn

Here at the Air Plant Shop, we sell a special mixture of Grow More Fertilizer that was specially formulated for air plants and bromeliads. The dilution rate for the fertilizer is very high, only a one-quarter teaspoon of plant food per gallon of water is required. It may seem like a very small amount, but air plants are quite sensitive due to them absorbing 100% of water and nutrients through their leaves. We recommend using the fertilizer water to soak your plants once per month. In general, this will be every fourth soaking.

Higher concentrations of fertilizer in the water and more frequent fertilizing may burn your air plants. For those who prefer the misting method of watering, you may wish to also add the fertilizing to this regime. However, it is important that you are very careful about mixing and diluting the fertilizer completely (at same one-quarter teaspoon per gallon of water) before spraying the plants.

7. Moisture & Poor Air Circulation

Most air plants are from arid deserts or cool, dry, and windy highlands. Some air plants like very high humidity but not all. After soaking your plants make sure they get dry fast. We like to put them under a ceiling fan when drying. That will help avoid moist bases that are susceptible to root rot. If you mist or spray your plants for watering, we still recommend that you take them out of their enclosures for watering. Spanish Moss should be hung somewhere where it is surrounded by air. It will slowly brown if placed flush against a wall or used as stuffing inside a terrarium globe.

8. Their Natural Life Cycle

Nothing lasts forever and that also applies to air plants. The life cycle of air plants includes growth, blooming, and reproduction by the pups and seedlings. Although blooming is considered one of the peaks of most air plants's lives, it is not always downhill from there. We have had smaller air plants like Ionanthas bloom for us a couple of times per year. Eventually, however, the mother plant will put most of her energy into producing small offsets. By the time the mother plant has completely given up, the offsets will be to the size of the mother, and the cycle continues. Some species also seem to prefer making pups before the mother plant has bloomed, so a pupping plant does not necessarily mean that you misted the mother plant's bloom! When an air plant starts to produce babies, you have a couple of options: Division of the new air plants or to let the air plants naturally clump

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