As a landscaper whose work requires me to get up close and personal with plants, I will always, if you ask me to pick a favorite type, choose the lesser-known but very distinct air plant. And why is this plant, also known as tillandsia, my top pick? Read on to learn why air plants truly soar above the rest of the bunch.
These evergreen lovelies come in many leaf shapes, colors and textures — all resembling sea creatures with wildly crazy tentacles.
Not requiring soil, they are not confined full-time to a container. Unlike what the name may suggest, air plants don’t absorb all their moisture and nutrients via the air but through their leaves.
Air plants are shockingly easy. To water, submerge the entire plant in a container of rain or bottled drinking water anywhere from 15 minutes to 10 hours weekly. Air plants absorb only as much water as needed, so you won’t overwater this way. After removing from the bath, turn the air plant upside down and gently shake off excess water from its base (they hate wet feet).
Air plants prefer bright, indirect light with good air circulation. In the outdoors, a porch or gazebo-like structure allows the desired amount of filtered sunlight plus needed frost protection.
The possible arrangements are endless — air plants can be mounted on driftwood, attached to wreaths or nestled in seashells.
• They are especially fond of bright, steamy bathrooms.
• Use a specialized fertilizer in the water monthly. Try bromeliad.
• Leaves on a drought stressed air plant curl under, have a flat color and turn brown at their ends. These are safe to trim off.
TIPS FROM THE EXPERT
Susie Turner, owner of Green Door Design in Mill Valley, specializes in custom plant arrangements. She says, “Air plants look amazing nestled into living succulent arrangements, giving height and texture, and can easily be removed for weekly watering.” Turner’s favorite: tillandsia juncea paired with tall orchids, as they add a grassy look and wispy effect, artfully filling in the spaces.