Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Air Plant Care

After seeing Air Plants (Tillandsia) in Florida in their native habitat, we were inspired to discuss care for the plants in a home or office environment.

Light Requirements
One common misconception is that tillandsias do not need much light. While they may able to survive in lower lighting, by no means will they flourish. Ideal conditions would be bright indirect lighting (within 4ft from a bright window), or better yet, with direct light for 1-3 hours per day. However, too much light will cause burning of the leaves, so they should not be in direct light for more than 3 hours a day. 
If tillandsias are in lower lighting conditions, you will tend to see discoloration of the leaves and/or spotting. Eventually, the tillandsias will lose their ability to take up water and do photosynthesis and will die.
Watering Requirements
There are 3 common ways of watering tillandsias - Misting, Dunking, and Soaking. All three methods are effective, however, the frequency and duration of the watering is a function of the technique.
Misting - Since a very little amount of water is administered with each watering, misting is required daily in order to provide sufficient water for a tillandsia in medium to bright lighting conditions. With misting a large percentage of the water evaporates and does not get absorbed, which is why it must be done daily to be effective. It is also important to mist all sides of the tillandsias (bottom of leaves, especially).
Dunking - This is the most common method of watering. Essentially, the tillandsias are held under a stream of water for 10 or so seconds. It should be done 2-4 times per week to be effective.
Soaking - This is the best method in our opinion as it the deepest watering. During soaking the tillandsias is left to sit in a bucket or bowl of water for 1-2 hours ideally. It can be done weekly because it is so comprehensive.
If a tillandsia is not watered sufficiently, you will see browning or crispy leaf edges and eventually the tillandsias leaves will curl up and inward.
Temperature Requirements
Tillandsias are fairly hearty and can take a range of temperatures. However, while tillandsias might survive a frost, it is wise not to put them outside when temperatures drop below 40F, or above 100F. If they are exposed to low temperatures, make sure that there is no sitting water in the base of the tillandsias leaves. Similarly, if exposed to elevated temperatures, make sure they are watered thoroughly and regularly.
Caput Medusae
In nature tillandsias absorb nutrients from plants and animals in their environment like all plants. To replicate that tillandsias should be fertilized monthy to once every 3 months. The best fertilizers for tillandsias have an even amount of the Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (N-P-P). If anything, a little higher level of Nitrogen is best, but not needed. Make sure that whatever fertilizer you use is water soluble.

Without regular fertilizing, tillandsias tend to decline or fade over time.

The only pest that attacks tillandsias is mealy bug, and it is not very common. If you do find mealy bugs on your tillandsias, submerge them in water for an hour or two to flush them out.

Fungus or Rot

In moist environments with low temperatures and low air flow, there is always the possibility of fungus or rot conditions coming into play. Eventually, the tillandsia will fall apart or turn to mush if left unchecked.

The best way to avoid this is to place your tillandsias in locations where there is good light and good airflow. Also, make sure that there is no water in the cup or at the base of the leaves 24 hours after watering.

Are you in need of plants for your work space? Everything Grows offers complimentary site visits and can accommodate almost any budget. Contact us today and one of our designers will be happy to assist you!

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