Friday, February 28, 2014

Tillandsia

Welcome to the end of February! Spring is so close, I can almost taste it.

Tillandsia, also known as air plants, are a type of evergreen and there are hundreds of different species. They're quite cool as they suck in moisture and nutrients in the air through their leaves and not their roots, hence their alternate name of "air plants." Their roots are used as anchors only and they attach themselves to other plants. They're not parasitic though! They just use the host plants as homes.

Air plants are relatively low-maintenance and they bud and produce "pups" so you can grow more and more plants. I've shared multiple plant-related posts on here, all of them easy to care for. My succulent terrarium is still thriving at my office (I'll have to remember to take a photo of it as it has grown quite a bit), the mini garden's doing all right, and my bunny cactus is looking great, all because they don't require much help. If I haven't made it clear in the past, my (indoor houseplant) green thumb is not v. green. However, my outdoor green thumb is pretty awesome, as evidenced by my garden last year. Oh my gosh, speaking of which, I can't wait to plan this year's garden! AH!
I ordered my air plants from the Twisted Acres Etsy shop. I found them after a quick google search and they had good reviews and they looked reputable so I just went for it. They sent my package out immediately and I received it just a few days after ordering. I highly recommend them!


The plants were snuggled in newspaper and luckily I brought the package indoors shortly after it was dropped on my doorstep. And doubly luckily, it was unseasonably warm so I wasn't too worried about the plants getting affected by a chill.
I'm not 100% sure that the labeled photo below contain all of the correct species names, as Twisted Acres didn't tell me which plants were which, but I did my best by staring at some google images and staring at my plants and playing match game.
The plants need "watering" about once a week for about an hour. By "watering" I mean soaking. It's almost like mimicking the effects of a torrential downpour, as that's when these guys get their drinks in nature.

I can't tell you the exact time frame or schedule because it will depend on the season, the humidity, the amount of sunlight your plants get day-to-day, and the actual plant type. If you live in a dry place and your plants are getting a lot of sun, you should water them more often (two to three times a week for an hour). If you live somewhere humid and your plants are sitting in partial sunlight, you should water them less often (once a week to every two weeks for twenty minutes). Oh! And when your plants start to flower, you should only give them a dip, otherwise the flowers will start to dissolve.

I live in the northeast, my plants get partial sunlight, and I soak them once a week for about 20 minutes.

If you're able to collect rainwater, that would be ideal, as tap water contains chlorine which is harmful to the plants. We have tons of snow outside right now so melting some of that could be a solution. Filtered water (like the stuff in your Brita pitcher or the stream that ran through a Pur tap filter) is also a great option. However, if you're lazy and/or forgetful like me and you're not into collecting precipitation and you keep your Brita in the fridge, you can grab a big bowl of tap water and let it sit out overnight, as the chlorine will evaporate. If you have a water softener, the salt isn't great for the plants either so in this case, filtered water is probably your best bet. By the way, do not use distilled water! It doesn't have any minerals or nutrients so it's no good for the plants.
After the plants have had a good soak, let them dry out a bit on some paper towels. You don't want them to be soaking wet when you place them in their containers, as moisture can attract icky things like mold. I let them sit out until they're no longer drippy.
So the main reason I wanted to get air plants was because we have these little hanging globe candle holders hanging in our entryway. I bought them after we redid our kitchen to spice things up and as it was autumn and Christmas was approaching, and candles floating in glass orbs are so pretty. After New Years I had to decide whether or not to take these down. I was too in love with them to let them go and I decided I wanted them to be up all year round. (FYI, I also made the executive decision to leave the fairy lights up around the frame, as I think they look pretty and I think fairy lights are always nice). However, in order to make the globes a bit more warm weather appropriate, I decided to fill them with plants. I considered succulents but then we'd need to fill these with gravel and potting soil and it would be a pain in the butt to take them out once Christmas rolled around again.
Luckily, air plants exist and they won the "low maintenance, easy to swap out, will find a home almost anywhere when candle season returns" contest and that's how all of this happened. And look how cute they look in the orbs, Am I right? Actually, to be 100% honest, they look a wee bit boring right now, but when they get a bit bigger and start flowering, they'll look awesome. Yes! Did I mention that yet? Most of these guys will flower and the leaves will change color a bit and it's going to be so cool.
The bigger plants got placed in glass votive holders. The two in the middle look a bit creepy - like baby loch ness monsters - but maybe they'll blossom and become the prettiest ones.
I saved one little guy to place in this lightbulb-shaped glass candle holder. I think he looks great. I'm excited for these cuties to start growing and flowering! I'll try and share an update post once they've started changing.
Cheers.

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