Growing air plants is popular with city dwellers as they brighten up the home without taking up too much space. This article provides some vital tips on air plant care.
Most of the air plants available in the houseplant trade are epiphytes. The common Tillandsia ionantha are generally hardy, and requires less attention than other houseplants. They thrive in cooler temperatures and bright, filtered light.
In the wild, epiphytes are exposed to filtered sunlight and rain as they grow on tree branches. These plants also dry out quickly via constant air circulation and the heat from the sun’s rays.
These plants look nice in glass globes, but you should take them out to water them whenever they look dry. Mist the plants when they show slight signs of dehydration, such as slight curling and shrivelling of the leaves. Avoid letting the plants dry out excessively.
Mist the plants with a spray bottle, until they are totally wet. You may wish to fertilise the plants by adding a pinch of fertiliser to your mister. The larger your glass globe, air circulates more freely and your plants will tend to dry more quickly. In this case, you should spray your plants more often. Let your plants dry in an airy and bright area before putting them back in the glass globes. Do note that if water is trapped in the spaces within its crown, the plant can rot or die.
If you are growing them indoors and the air is dry, you may need to soak the plants in water for 2-3 hours about every two weeks. Otherwise, in a shade-house or unheated home, you can use a soaking mist once or twice a week in summer, and once a month in cooler weather.
Do not use distilled water to water your plants. Avoid softened water as well, due to its salt content. You may use filtered or bottled water, pond or aquarium water. If your tap water has a high chlorine content, allow the tap water to sit long enough for the chlorine to dissipate before using it to water your plants.
Make sure the plants receive sufficient sunlight for healthy growth. However, do not place your globes directly in front of a window where they get direct sun. Remember the glass will intensify the sunlight and the heat. Instead, expose your plants to filtered sunlight for between four to six hours daily.
If you keep your plants indoors and if they do not get enough light, you may use full spectrum artificial or fluorescent light. The plant should be placed no further than 36 inches from the fluorescent tubes and can be as close as 6 inches. A four-tube 48-inch fixture works well. Light should be set with a timer, 12 hours per day.