Houseplant of the Week: Air Plants

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Tillandsia are plants that – believe it or not – live on air. Appropriately enough, they are nicknamed “air plants.” They are a great example of evolutionary adaption – they can grow on telephone poles and rocks and other places without soil. Their photosynthesis process allows them to get most of their nutrients from the air around them.

This relatively low-maintenance plant needs a good soaking when you first get it. Once it’s dry, you can place it in its new home, preferably with some bright, indirect light (or even artificial light). Do not plant it in soil and make sure there’s plenty of air circulation.

Air plants on a pebble filled bowl

Depending on the size and type of air plant you get, maintenance involves periodic misting or soaking – more in the summer when they are likely to dry out and less often in the winter.

A couple of tips – when you soak your air plant, make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back into its home so it doesn’t develop mold. If the tips of the leaves get dried out, that’s a sign that your air plant might be thirsty or that it is getting too much direct light. You can carefully cut off these tips with sharp scissors.