“My name is Melissa G. and I am a plantaholic.” I love plants. It is a known fact that I would rather buy multiples of hellebores more than a new pair of shoes. When a new plant order arrives for a client, I get a bit shaky and my heart beats faster. But sadly, the one type of plant that never appealed to me was indoor houseplants.
Perhaps it was the hazy memory of playing at a friend’s house in grade school that was inundated with macramé plant hangers and crazy spider plants sprouting their babies prolifically that turned me off indoor plants. I kill all well-meaning indoor house plants that make their way into my humble abode.
But recently, the excitement about “air plants” has caught my eye. Gathering from their appearances absolutely everywhere, I would guess I am not alone.
So what is the big deal with the air plant mania? Firstly, they need no soil. And come to think of it, they don’t need a pot either. Best of all, they need very little water, just a little spritz once a week will keep these laid-back plants looking great.
Air plants are botanically known as Tillandsia and retrieve their water and nutrients from the air, rather than soil in the form of dust. You heard it here first. They love dust. If you have been to my house, you know it is just my kind of plant.
They range in appearance from strappy spidery long leaves to more fleshy or grass like. Air plants are epiphytes, which means their roots are used exclusively to anchor themselves to rocks or trees. You have probably seen this type of plant on a hike around Alice Lake as wild moss hanging in trees, sometimes called Grandpa’s Beard.
Air plants do flower and they are spectacular. To encourage flowers, you should fertilize monthly throughout the spring and summer with quarter-strength of a high phosphorous content. When you look at the fertilizer, if it has a higher middle number (2:4:2), that indicates the level of phosphorous is high.
The coolest thing about air plants is how to display them. I have seen them hanging from rope, growing vertically in a wall hanging arrangement, and of course a big glass terrarium is perfect.
If you are looking for something new to grow that won’t rush its way to the plant graveyard, check out Tiillandsia.