Air Plants – if you are a traditional gardener, growing plants in the air without soil and containers might be a completely new idea for you but it would definitely be a great experience. Air Plants refer to more than 500 species of Tillandsia that belong to Bromeliad family. These epiphytic plants are native to forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America though some species of Air Plants are also found in certain regions of Mexico and North America. They are called Air Plants because they absorb moisture and nutrients from air. Some species do have basic root structure but they use their roots to cling to trees, plant or poles. Air Plants do not take nutrients from host plants; they rely on moisture and nutrients naturally found in the air.
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How to Grow Air Plants
Air Plants are easy to grow and do not require much maintenance provided that you provide them just ample amount of light and moisture. Most air plants do well in filtered light and do not like direct sunlight and fog. When growning outdoors, you can place your plants at locations where they get filtered sunlight and moderate temperature (95 F, maximum). If you are growing your plants indoors, make sure they get ample light away from the window. Direct exposure to strong light would take away essential moisture from the plant; poor lighting conditions would make your plants weak.
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Keep your plants at places where air circulation is good. Spray your plants with water 2 – 3 times a week in moderate or humid conditions; moisten them regularly when weather is hot and dry. If a plant starts to curl, it is thirsty. Soak it in water overnight and it will be back to life. Add general purpose fertilizer (1/4 of the recommended strength) to spray in summer and fall.
Popular varieties include: Tillandsia Ionantha, Tillandsia Xerographica, Tillandsia Circinnata and Tillandsia Usneoides.
Air Plants for Your Garden
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Air Plants are very adaptable. They can be grown in apartments where it is difficult to keep regular containers because of lack of space. They can be used in floral arrangements, in rock gardens, in vertical wall gardens or just as companion plants in your garden. They can also be used as ornamental plants grown almost anywhere indoors (kitchen, bath rooms, living rooms etc.).