Do you have a terrarium around your house to add a natural décor element to your rooms? Are you someone who likes to grow something different every now and again?
If you fit into either one of these scenarios, I must tell you about a remarkable plant more people are turning into one of their favorite house plants.
This amazing plant is an air plant. It’s easy to care for, easy to raise, and is fascinating to watch. I’m going to share with you how you can grow an air plant by itself or in a terrarium.
Here’s what you need to know about air plant care, to grow it successfully:
What is an Air Plant?
An air plant is a tropical plant known as a tillandsia. This plant is unique because, in its usual climate, the plant can survive by what it gathers in the air.
Air plants don’t use their roots to gather nutrients and water as most other plants do. Instead, the roots allow them to suction themselves to different surfaces.
However, they have to gain nutrients and water from somewhere. In fact, these plants have scales on their leaves which take on the job of absorbing what the plant needs to survive from the air.
The scales also do a great job at protecting the plant from the sun as well.
Air plants require a tad more care when they’re transformed into a houseplant, but they are still simple to raise.
If you’re looking for a unique and easy to care for houseplant, this could be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
How to Grow an Air Plant
To begin growing an air plant, it’s recommended you order them. When you have one plant you can create as many of them as you’d like.
Air plants have a hen and chick system when reproducing. Instead of referring to the new air plants as a chick, the proper term is a pup.
An air plant will flower one time in its life. After this flowering occurs, the plant will usually produce a pup plant.
You don’t have to remove the pup from the original plant. If you don’t, the plant will begin to mound and create a beautiful, larger plant.
However, if you’d like to have other air plants to place around your home, sell, or give away, you’ll need to separate the pup from the original plant.
You’ll use a sharp knife to cut the pup from the plant. Be sure to take more of the mother plant when cutting the pup off instead of leaving some of the pup on the original plant.
When the pup has been removed, you’ll place it in a container and care for it as you would any other air plant.
If you’re unfamiliar with proper care techniques for an air plant, don’t worry. We have you covered in the next section.
How to Care for an Air Plant
Air plants require little care. There are a few steps you’ll need to follow to ensure your plants are happy. If you do these things, you should find great success in raising air plants:
1. No Soil
Air plants require no soil when being planted. You choose a container and stick the plant in it. The roots will attach themselves to the base of the container and make this its new home.
I realize this is different in comparison to most plants, but the soil will do nothing for the plant beside make it more difficult for it to stabilize itself.
Also, don’t forget, the plant doesn’t absorb anything through its roots. They are there to help the plant be supported in its home.
This is what makes these plants fantastic because you don’t have to worry about soil quality or amending soil to satisfy this particular type of plant.
When you’ve decided what you’d like to grow your air plant in, place it in the container, and move forward with the caring process.
2. Create the Right Climate
As I mentioned above, air plants are tropical plants. Meaning, they don’t handle cold well. The ideal circumstances will be growing this plant in your home where the temperature can stay consistently above 60°F.
You’ll want the plant to be away from your air conditioning unit or vents. It should also be placed away from any windows where the plant could catch a draft.
Air plants require light as well. They need at least 3 hours of indirect light, but more are welcome. If you can’t give the plant 3 hours of light, consider placing the plant under a grow light to give it more.
If you can provide these basic needs, your plant should be happy.
3. Know Which Style of Air Plant You Have
Air plants have many different varieties, but all varieties have 1 of 2 types of leaves. The first type of leaf is a coated leaf.
These leaves have a white, dusty coating on them. This lets you know the variety of air plant you have comes from a dryer climate.
With these plants, you’ll need only to water them once or twice a week. They can also handle plenty of sunlight as well.
This might be a good variety of air plant if you want to raise a houseplant in your sunroom or another toasty area of your home.
The other type of leaf is one that has a satin exterior. These leaves come from the moist area of a tropical climate. They need to be watered more frequently.
Knowing the type of leaf your plant has will let you know how much care you should give it.
There are multiple ways to water an air plant. The first option is to mist your plant. You use a spray bottle and mist the entire plant and container the plant lives in. You’ll need to do this daily to ensure your plants have enough water.
The next option is to submerge the plant in water for a shorter period. You can pick your air plant up from the container and dunk it underwater or place it under a faucet for a few minutes making sure the whole plant has been given ample water.
The final option for watering an air plant is the best option. The option is to submerge the air plant underwater for hours.
When you do this, you fill up your sink with water and place the air plant inside of it. You can leave the plant for at least an hour, if not more.
The great thing about air plants is you can’t overwater them. They only absorb what they need and shed the rest.
If you choose this type of watering, you should only have to water 1-2 times per week, depending on how long you leave the plant in water.
Some say they leave their plants in the water for up to 12 hours! This is also a great watering method if you’ve inherited an air plant that was neglected.
You can soak the plant in water for a few hours and should be able to see a difference.
When done with any watering methods where you submerge the plant in water, be sure to hang the plant upside down over the tub of water and shake it. This will pull any water which might be hung in the center of the plant.
Also, give the plant an opportunity to dry for a brief period before placing it back in its planter.
5. Choose the Right Water
This is the only tricky part of raising an air plant. You’ll need to know which type of water you have. If you have city water, you’ll need to purchase distilled water to care for your air plant.
The reason being, the chemicals in city water can harm the plant.
If you have hard water, there’s chalk in it. This chalk can clog the scales of the air plant which means the plant can’t take in any necessary nutrients. In turn, this can kill your plants.
However, if you have soft water, it means you have salt in your water. The salt can also kill your plants.
Be sure to assess the water situation in your home before watering your air plant, or you could unknowingly give your plant a death sentence.
Finally, you’ll need to fertilize your air plants. You can purchase special air plant fertilizer or use a fertilizer meant for orchids.
You should fertilize once a month and follow the instructions on the packet.
However, if you choose to water your air plants by submerging them in water for a more extended period once a week, you can add the fertilizer to the watering session one time per month.
The plant will absorb both water and nutrients at once. You’ll need to shake the plant and give it time to dry.
However, this simplifies and streamlines the care process.
An air plant is a friendly plant. Meaning it can be placed in a container by itself or grown alongside other houseplants.
The great thing is if you have a houseplant planted in soil, you can set the air plant in the pot with the other plant, and it should thrive without any digging of dirt.
However, there are 2 plants in particular which air plants love to be planted around. They are:
If you’re growing any of these houseplants, be sure to put your air plant near them to keep them extra happy.
Different Ways to Display an Air Plant
There are many ways to display air plants. You can place them in a glass container, wire hanging basket, inside a shell, or on a piece of old wood.
If you have a stone or brick wall you’d like to decorate, you can glue the roots to the surface for the plant to be able to grow there.
Keep in mind, if you glue the roots, you’ll have to water the plant more frequently because you could harm the plant when trying to detach it for submerging it in water.
Also, if you have a bathroom with a window, this is a great location to grow your air plant. The humidity which comes from your showers is a great way to water your air plant naturally.
Though, keep in mind, you’ll still have to water your plant regularly. The sunlight from the window should meet the air plant’s need for indirect light as well.
There are many ways to grow an air plant. They’re easy to place and can be used in many unique ways. Hopefully, this guide on air plant care will give you the knowledge you need to get started in the process.
Your home should be on its way to having unique and lively décor which is sure to catch your guests’ attention.