Tillandsia

Words: Rosie Cullinane

 

The Tiny House movement has many of us re-thinking living and working spaces. If you have ever lived in a major metropolis, you understand what it means to economize; to live with simplicity and Thoreauvian sensibilities. For the urbanite dwelling in less than 400 square feet, this leaves little room for plants or enough disposable income for the quintessential social media inspired indoor garden. However, there are a number of plants that will work well in you micro-apartment or work cubical, that are also easy on the wallet. Tillandsia is one such plant. More commonly known as Air Plants, they are low maintenance, and take up little space. They are an ideal option for those who travel, or are new to keeping houseplants.

Xerographica
Bulbosa

Air plants are a subfamily of Bromeliad. Over 1270 species exist, which lends to a variety of interesting shapes, sizes and colors. Some examples are the familiar pineapple, or the popular house plant Bromeliaceae Guzmania. Tillandsia are epiphytes (growing on other plants, or trees) or lithophytes (growing on rocks). Growing out of soil, Tillandsia have adapted through the development of specialized cells called trichomes, scales formed on their foliage, that draw in water and nutrients from rain and particulate in the air.

You will find some species of Air Plants covered in these scales giving them a velvety, fuzzy or hairy appearance. Some Air Plants have sparse, short roots that act more like a claw in which to cling to a surface. While other air plant species will have no roots at all.  

Multiple Airplants
Capitata
Harrisi

 

Care for Tillandsia:

Misting: Once every 2-3 days. Just a few sprays.

Bathing: Fill your sink and submerge tillandsia for 15 minutes or so, once per week.

Moisture: Shake out any excess water and let tillandsias dry on a towel before putting them back in their vessel.

Light: Bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid hanging in southern or western windows if possible.

Pups: Baby tillandsias can form and once big enough, can be pinched off and grown independently or left on the plant to form a cluster.