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Connecticut Garden Journal: Air Plants

Jan 5, 2017

I first came across tillandsia, or air plants, at a boutique garden center in San Francisco a few years ago. This trendy plant seemed like the answer to many people's dreams of a low-care house plant. 

Who wouldn't like a plant that needs no soil, fertilizer, or extra care, other than the occasional watering?

Tillandsia is a type of bromeliad that naturally grows on trees in the topics. They get all the water and nutrients they need from the air as they hang from the branches -- hence the common name.

They're a good choice for a plant-challenged gardener, plus, they're so darn cute!

Tillandsias come in many different shapes and sizes. Some look like plants from a science fiction movie, while others look like a a squid.

They can be mounted on wood on a wall or even attached to other house plants.

However, I think the best way to display an air plant is in small, globe-shaped, clear plastic terrarium hung in a room.

These terrariums have good air flow, which is important for air plants getting the nutrients and water they need. And it allows you to decorate your tillandsia plants with drift wood, moss, pebbles, colored glass, and other materials. It’s an art project!

Credit Ciera Holzenthal flickr.com/photos/cierah / Creative Commons

To keep them growing best, place the tillandsia in a bright room, out of direct sunlight. Remove the plants from the terrarium every two weeks and soak them in non-chlorinated water for a few hours to rehydrate.

You'll know when they need soaking because the leaves will start to shrivel. That’s it. They’re a great indoor project to do with your kids this winter.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about new vegetables varieties. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.