If luscious green palms are the stuff of dreams and your house plants are more likely to end up a wilting, brown mess, today’s new trend for ‘air plants’ might just be what you need. Check out our easy guide on growing and displaying air plants around the home and before long you’ll be the envy of all your green-fingered friends…
What are air plants?
The name gives it away really, because air plants (or Tillandsia as they are known in the trade) don’t need soil and instead get all of the water and nutrients they need from the air through their specialised leaves. Air plants use their roots only for attaching themselves to rocks, trees, shrubs and the ground. They are lovers of hot weather and native to Mexico, Central America and South America and even if you neglect them they can thrive (perfect for today’s busy, on-the-go lifestyle).
Okay, so we don’t live in the tropics and our homes aren’t full of Tillandsia-loving rock formations, so how do we set about growing air plants here in the UK inside our four walls? Well you don’t need to bother with the mess of filling a pot with earth, but instead mount the air plants to a board, tile or other planter. You might want to invest in a special Tillandsia planter which is usually a glass hanging globe with holes in it to increase air flow. These sorts of plants need bright, indirect light such as a sunny, south, east or west-facing window – if you don’t have a bright window, splash out on a grow light. Ikea has a similar system in store called ‘Hydroponics’ which is a mess free, stress-free indoor gardening kit that lets you grow and cultivate herbs and salad leaves without any soil (or indeed any sort of garden) - just water. Amazing for apartment living where you can have fresh and healthy produce at your fingertips.
Even though air plants are resilient and easy to grow, there are a few basic rules when it comes to taking care of your indoor garden. They need constant air circulation and some moisture: mist daily from spring to mid-autumn and during the winter mist just once or twice a week. For added nourishment, mist the plants once a month with a diluted organic fertilizer and although they do love warm weather, don’t site your plants in the full glare of the sun; equally don’t let an air plant sit anywhere that’s colder than 10 degrees.
With terrariums still hot on the interiors wishlist, air plants look fabulous planted in mini glass globes and suspended from the ceiling. Such a sculptural display works best by grouping in threes because, remember, odd numbers are the interiorista’s fool proof trick for displaying household treasures. Mix and match different varieties of Tillandsia such as plants with spiky foliage or pretty funnel-shape flowers. Take a DIY approach and make your own teeny-weeny air plant holder by cutting away the inside of a cork and attaching to a magnet. Air plants will make beautiful additions to every room in the house – and for very little effort.