Plants add vital color and character to any outdoor or indoor space. Many people find that they do not carry the green thumb gene their grandparents did, and with busy schedules, the feeding and watering of houseplants often times vanishes from memory, only to be rekindled when the sight of a plant that looks like it’s well past the point of no return reminds us of the forgotten responsibility.
Plant killers rejoice, for all is not lost!
There is actually a type of plant that even the most forgetful of individuals will have a hard time killing.
Aerophytes, more commonly known as air plants, are a subgroup of plants with a wide variety of members. The Tillandsia species group alone consists of more than 700 unique flowering and non-flowering plants. This plant species’ foliage consists of hair-like structures called trichomes, which are used to take in the moisture and nutrients they need from the air.
Unlike other types of plants, aerophytes primarily use their roots to securely anchor or hold them in place. Due to these special adaptations, air plants do not require the skillful tending of other plants, like begonias, and their hardiness makes them perfect for those who tend to be forgetful.
Caring for air plants is easier than you think. If you have a misting bottle or just a sink, you can care for an air plant. One or two times a week, give the plant a little tender loving care by spraying the foliage or place it in a sink of water for a few minutes.
What’s great about air plants is that if you put them your bathroom, you can practically forget about them since they will have a surplus of moisture from your shower.
Give them a boost
For truly prosperous growth, HGTV’s “Guide to Growing Air Plants” suggests making sure it avoids direct sunlight and has plenty of air-flow. These are the environemental conditions best-suited for the plants because that is how they’re naturally found when growing in the wild, so it’s highly recommended you try to emulate that type of setting.
It’s also highly recommended that you feed your air plant a nutrient-rich fertilizer once a month. This buffet of nutrients is oftentimes the boost it needs to ensure a long growing season.
Packed with potential
For designers and home decorators alike, air plants offer a bounty of design potential. The lack of soil means just about any item can be used as a container or display for aerophytes.
Transparent light bulbs and Christmas ornaments are fabulous for creating miniature terrariums. Once inside, the plants can be clustered and suspended from the ceiling with clear monofilament to create an ethereal look. Wrapping a wire around a bulb and hanging it from a drawer pull or picture hanger gives a fresh, colorful pop to a room. Even tilted on their sides, these terrariums can be neatly incorporated into displays on bookshelves, end tables or countertops.
The good news is the decorating potential doesn’t stop with light bulbs. Anything you find can become an air plant container with a little creative thinking. Soda bottles, jars and even candle holders can be used to create a display of aerophytes. For a Hawaiian luau, try using shallows dishes or bowls to place colorful air plants on the main table and around the room to give your party space a tropical feel.
One of the most recent trends is to create a vertical garden or living wall for your home. A shadow box can be used to create a small, picturesque plant holder — you can even make it a do-it-yourself project too. Simply add a few screws or nails where you want to put the plants. This will give the plants something to anchor onto. Then place it as a focal point in any room, even your outdoor space. Once or twice a week, simply remember to mist your creation. Your living wall will surely become a conversation piece, and you will benefit from all the clean air.
Air plants are alive; therefore, you must be careful when choosing your containers. The container will need to be waterproof or have an opening where you can remove the plant for watering.
Some air plants, like the Tillandsia secunda, will need a large pot. The Tillandsia neglecta and Tillandsia caliginosa species have vivid flowers shoots that will need an opening to grow through.
Whether you are decorating your home or staging it for sale, it’s the little touches that can make the biggest difference. By incorporating a few friendly aerophytes into your décor, you’ll make the place seem bright and friendly, ensuring it’s one home the buyers won’t soon forget.