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Air Plant Care & Advice

How to look after Air Plants...

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Air Plant Care

Tillandsias which are kept in the house need to be watched closely in the initial month until they have established themselves in their new environment. They love fresh air, good light, and humidity – conditions often absent in the home. However, since tillandsias possess the ability to adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions, they will be happy indoors if they are given as much of their natural requirements as possible.

Ideal rooms include kitchens and bathrooms, where the humidity is naturally higher, but they are suitable for anywhere in the home.

Light

Tillandsias kept in the house should receive plenty of indirect or diffused light from a nearby window. They should not be left in the direct sun, especially in the summer months, as this will cause the plant to become scorched, or even ‘sunburned’!

Where natural light is not available, rooms that are just lit by artificial means may be fine, as long as the lights are on for several hours a day, and there is still some air movement.

Watering Air Plants

Watering is critical indoors since there is usually a lack of humidity, especially in homes or offices with air conditioning and/or central heating. Regulate spraying according to growing conditions. The amount of watering required will vary according to temperature, light and air movement.

As a guide, mist or spray thoroughly once a week, more often in a hot, dry environment and through the summer months.

After watering, the air plants should be allowed to dry naturally, shake off excess water if it looks like it is collecting in the leaves.  Air circulation helps with this process and ideally your plant should look dry in a few hours after watering.

Generous spray misting is enough as a means of watering in average weather conditions. But additional watering will be required in a dry, hot environment.  This can be done by ‘dunking’ air plants, or simply giving more water with the fine rose of a watering can.  In the summer, a short while outside in the rain will also do them the power of good.

Where plants have become a little too dry they will need further care.  A successful way to water plants which are dehydrating, is to totally submerge them in room temperature rain (or tap) water containing a small amount of fertiliser. They should remain submerged overnight, or at least for a few hours. If submersion is not possible due to them being glued to an arrangement, plants can be held under a running tap, but always shake off excess water, as Tillandsias will not survive standing in water as this will cause the plant to rot.

Under-watering is evident by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf.

Holiday Care – One of the joys of air plants is that you can quite happily go away for a few weeks and no harm will come to them.  Simply make sure that you give them a generous watering the day before you go and move plants to a more shaded spot in the house. In the Summer months, you could even put the plants outside, in the shade, for their own mini holiday!

Air Circulation
Plants do not want to be kept constantly wet, so air circulation following watering is great for the long-term health of your plants.
Temperature
Tillandsias tolerate a wide range of temperatures from very hot (away from direct sunlight) – down to 8 to 10oC depending on plant variety. Just remember, the hotter the conditions, the more water they will need.
Mounting Air Plants
Care should be taken to avoid attaching the air plant deep into a hole that will cover much of the base.
Mount plants on almost anything, – Driftwood, seashells, coral, rock, crystals.
There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of glue; but generally, we recommend our silicone rubber fixative to accomplish the task. Care must be taken not to get fixative on the very base of the plant thus enabling any small roots to develop. As this fixative takes some hours to set, it is wise to use some kind of support to hold it in its place while it cures. An elastic band, wire or string is ideal. Low melt craft glue can also be used, which dries in seconds. When this glue is used, care must be taken with small species. The glue comes out of the gun at 190 degrees C. If this heat reaches the growing tip tissue, the plant may die. If the plant has a good root base on which to put the glue, the process should not be a problem if one is careful. One tip is to wait 10-30 seconds before attaching the plant. This gives the glue on the mounting surface a chance to cool a little. A word of caution, plants that are stuck into holes often rot when the base becomes wet and does not have an opportunity to dry. This mistake occurs often when the plants are stuck down into the opening of a seashell. Too much moss wrapped around the base of a plant, can cause a problem as this can block air circulation, and as it remains wet for longer, will probably cause the plant to rot. If only a small amount of moss is used, you should have no problems.   Just remember, it is important to maintain Tillandsias properly: the key care factors are an equal balance of Light, Water, and Air Circulation. We often say that if you are working too hard to care for your air plant, it may not be in the right place, so consider moving it to another room in the house. With the right care and a bit of TLC (Tilly Loving Care) your plants will last a very long time… we’re not making any promises, but we do know of plants lasting 20-30 years!
Summer Holiday
Air Plants are a house plant, but in the summer, we move all ours outside to the dappled shade and you should see them breathe a sigh of relief. Soft breeze, gentle rain or dew, mother nature does all the work for us, and you should see the difference it makes!
Air Plant Fertiliser
To encourage your plants to get bigger, flower, and form clumps, feed weekly with Key Essentials air plant fertiliser in spring and summer. Fortnightly in autumn and winter. Feeding isn’t a substitute for watering but should be done in addition to your weekly care plan.
Air Plants in Vivariums and other Animal Enclosures
Enclosures must have at least one side of screen mesh. Full spectrum fluorescent lighting is ideal, but care must be taken to avoid placing air plants too close to heat producing bulbs.
Good air circulation and proper watering schedule must be maintained.
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