Tillandsia, better known to us as air plants are quirky plant that are in the Bromeliad family. Native to the southern states of the US and in South America, they have found favor with fans who call them by their nickname Tilly. Since they don’t need soil to grow, air plants can grow in the most unlikely places. In their native environment air plants use their roots to anchor themselves to trees, rocks or whatever suits their fancy. There are over 650 types of Tillandsia that can grow and thrive without ever being potted.
The leaves handle the job of absorbing moisture and nutrients. Each leaf is covered with tiny scales called trichomes which are smooth or hairy depending on the variety. These microscopic little pores on the plant are easily clogged by chalks or salts if you have either hard water or softened water, so using bottled water is best for watering. The best way to water an air plant is to submerge it in a dish of water for 8-10 hours about every other week. Air plants only take up as much water as they need, so you won’t over water by doing this. Remove the plant and gently shake them upside down to make sure water isn’t trapped in the center of the plant where it may cause rot.
Tilly loves a bright and cheerful window with filtered light. In the winter misting can help it with the humidity it craves. Watch carefully during the colder months for signs of stress such as curling or leaves that have flattened or turned brown. To fertilize, use a water-soluble fertilizer developed for Bromeliads which will have nitrogen that they can easily absorb.
At Belle Fiori, we love the look of air plants in terrariums paired with river rocks and reindeer moss. These charming little southwestern-style landscapes add interest to a nook or cranny and are so easy to maintain. We offer many different varieties of air plants and misters and can customize a terrarium or decorative bowl for you! Stop in and meet Tilly!