As has happened with succulents, the time will also come for the Tillandsia or air plant. Thanks to the enormous decorative possibilities of the air plant, we are sure it will soon become fashionable.
Tillandsias are epitope plants that grow on tropical forest trees. They are special plants: they do not grow in the ground, but rather seek height. They have very few roots, and few use them to attach themselves to the tree to which they are anchored.
It is always useful to know the needs of light, water, and fertilization of all our plants. But in this case, and perhaps it is precisely its peculiarity, it is almost mandatory. It will allow us to put into practice those little tricks they need to enjoy them for a long, long time.
What do they feed on? In their natural environment, high humidity provides them with all the water they need. While as regards nutrients, they take them from “what falls” above them, such as animal excrement, dead leaves or small insects that die on them.
Because of these peculiarities, it is also called air carnation. Something that at the same time allows us to enjoy their beauty and use them in the decoration of our homes thanks to their versatility.
1. How much light does a Tillandsia need?
The fact that she is native to tropical forests does not mean that she likes direct sun exposure. In fact, they never position themselves on the tops of the trees, but at half-height, which still guarantees a lot of light but, at the same time, away from direct sunlight.
At home, they can be positioned both indoors and outdoors, looking for a space with good brightness. If the winter is harsh, keep them indoors until the temperatures start to rise again. Do not forget that it is a tropical plant and therefore sensitive to cold.
2. How to water the air plants
The Tillandsia or air plant needs a lot of environmental humidity, which we will be able to supply them through regular water sprays. I highly recommend using bottled water, rainwater or an aquarium if you have one.
While pulverizing, avoid the accumulation of water between the leaves, which could rot. Usually, I shake them upside down for a moment to scroll through any droplets.
Sprays are daily during the summer months, and every three or four days in the winter. Be careful if you grow them indoors: indoor humidity can be very low, due to air conditioning or heating. I advise you to always evaluate the possibility of increasing or decreasing the periodicity of the water if you consider it necessary.
It will be very useful to observe the change in color of the leaves. Compare the tone it acquires when you have just sprayed it and how it changes, indicating the lack of humidity. Something similar also happens with the Phalaenopsis, epiphytic orchids that indicate their need for water through the color of the roots.
They can be watered by immersion, especially if they are large plants. Place them in a container for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow them to absorb the necessary water. Afterward, leave them to “drain” before putting them back in their place.
If they are part of a composition created inside a glass sphere, avoid watering them inside. Glass helps us keep them moist but can damage them if the humidity becomes excessive, causing the plants to rot and die.
3. How to fertilize air carnations
The most common advice is to use orchid fertilizer diluted in a proportion of 25%, once a month or every two months.
However, I would like to emphasize that the fertilizer may not be necessary in some cases: for example, if you are watering the plants with water from an aquarium or if you have placed them outside.
Remember that the air plants feed through their leaves, therefore we will always use a liquid fertilizer to add to the water of the sprayer or diluted in the water of irrigation by immersion.
4. What to do if the Tillandsia or air plant develops new plants?
It is normal for air plants to form small plants at their base after flowering. It is a type of reproduction similar to that of aloe vera.
These new plants can stay together with their mother forever or we can decide to separate them.
In that case, we recommend letting them grow as long as possible to make sure they can resist separation. Wait for spring and gently pull down until it comes off.