Did you know...?
Tillandsia (air plants) are a very diverse genus of plant in the bromeliad family. There are approximately 600-700 species of tillandsia that range dramtically in size, shape, color and texture. They are epiphytes (meaning they grow harmlessly on trees or other plants) and in some cases aerophytes (meaning they grow with no roots on top of rocky or sandy soil in arid regions). As houseplants they require no soil, and can be grown on a windowsill, in a terrarium, mounted on another object etc.
Some tillandsia will only bloom once in their lifetime, while others can bloom many times. After they bloom, their offspring, known as "pups" will appear. A single plant can have up to 12 offspring. When the "pups" are mature (approximately 2/3 the size of the mother plant) they can be separated safely, or left attached in order to form a cluster. Monocarpic tillandsia (plants that bloom only once) will often "blush" another shade before their blooms appear. Usually red, but sometimes pale yellow, peach or even purple shades will appear.
Caring for your tillandsia
Place your tillandsia in a bright, filtered light location. some morning sun is fine, but take care to keep them out of direct afternoon sun, especially if they are directly in front of a window. Tillandsia love air circulation, especially after they have been watered. When watering your tillandsia, there are a few methods that work equally well:
The spray method - Tillandsia can be watered effectively with a spray mister. 2-3 times per week, remove your plant from it's terrarium or other container and thoroughly mist the entire plant. Tillandsia absorb water and nutrients from their foliage, so be sure to saturate the leaves. Once this is done, gently shake the plant to remove any excess water that may have pooled at the base. If this is not done, the water may not be fully absorbed, and can lead to rot which will often kill your plant. As an added precaution, we recommend placing your plant upside down to drip dry for 2-3 hours after watering.
The soak method - If you choose to, you can soak your tillandsia rather than misting it. The benefit of soaking is that it provides a much deeper drink for your plant, and therefor can be done less often. Simply fill a glass or bowl with water, remove your tillandsia from it's terrarium or other container and fully submerge it in the water. Be sure to wet all of the foliage. Let the plant soak for 45 minutes to an hour. When done, remove your tillandsia and gently shake the plant to remove any water that may have pooled at the base. Place your plant upside down to drip dry, preferably where there is air flow. Allow plant to dry fully before replacing it in it's original home.
Tillandsia should be fertilized occasionally (approx. once a month) using a watered down orchid or bromeliad fertilizer. They don't require much, just a pinch of fertilizer added to a small mister. This will encourage strong, healthy growth and help your plants to bloom.