Decoding and Caring For Air Plants

THE TED LARE LOOK

The most popular trends in houseplant and indoor gardening is embracing the uniquely beautiful. From the jewel-toned, alien appearance of succulents to the broad-leafed tropical wonder of fiddle leaf figs, we’re embracing the plants that are like no other. When it comes to breathtaking and unique, though, nothing captures our eye quite like air plants.

Also known as tillandsia, these plants defy every expectation. They grow without soil, make the tall canopies of the jungle their home, and come in unique shapes and colors. We love the creativity that people have in displaying them in their home – after all, a home design and lifestyle as unique and exciting as yours deserves a plant that can keep pace.

Air Plant Basics:
Despite all of their unique characteristics, air plants are among some of the easiest houseplants to take care of. They’re slow growers with simple needs that cater towards unique ways of displaying them. Without the burden of planting them in soil, the options for them are almost limitless.

These plants survive mainly by taking in moisture and nutrients through tiny pores that line their leaves, so you’ll find that misting them regularly and occasionally submerging them is enough to keep them satisfied. With their easy care they’re the perfect plant for anyone – from those with a hectic schedule that doesn’t accommodate needier plants well to the houseplant connoisseur that is looking for a unique statement piece that brings something new and exciting to their home.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

How to Take Care of Your Air Plant:
Despite their nickname, these plants can’t quite make it on air alone. Their soilless life certainly opens up lots of opportunities to get creative with design, but they are still plants that have some basic needs to live and thrive. They’re easy to meet, but understanding the basics can help clear up some popular myths and confusion, and understanding how they work helps you to help them thrive.

Air Plant Care – Water:
This is the most complicated part of air plant care, but it’s actually quite simple – even if it’s different from what you’re used to with other plants.

These plants come from a variety of places, from tropical jungles to cliff sides, and the type of plant helps you figure out their needs. It’s not complicated, though. If your air plant has lush, green leaves, it’s likely tropical and needs water 2-3 times a week. Misting will help, but your plants will need a drink by being run under a gentle stream of room-temperature water. If you notice drooping or curling leaves, you can give your plant a better refresher by submerging them for an hour. Just be careful not to submerge any blooms, as they’ll dissolve!

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Plants with silvery-grey leaves are from more arid homes, so they won’t need water as frequently. Dial back your misting and watering to 1 or maybe 2 times a week. Watch the curling and condition of your plant’s leaves for hints about what you need to do!

Be careful to use tap water and never distilled when you water, no matter they type of air plant. Distilled water is so pure it will draw nutrients out of the leaves and away from your plant! Thanks to their pores, they’re constantly feeding, so air plants don’t really need fertilizer. If your heart is set on it, though, you’ll need to be careful not to burn them with something too intense. Use an all-purpose fertilizer at a quarter strength and no more frequent than once a month.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Air Plant Care – Light:

The second trick to a happy air plant is lots of light. Choose a spot for them that proudly puts them on display where they get lots of light – and you can appreciate them! The best spot is in a well-lit room, maybe near a window. They’ll even do well in offices with fluorescents, as long as there’s lots of light. Not only healthy for your plant, better lighting means that you can highlight your plant as much as possible. Given a bright and prominent place in your home, and it’s sure to quickly become a centerpiece.

Design Your Air Plant:
With care requirements out of the way, you’re free to imagine all the fun ways to bring an air plant home with you. While they don’t come with the same foolproof pot-on-a-windowsill design as some other houseplant classics, their unique look and needs opens the door to tons of fun and creative displays. A quick Pinterest or Google search will show you all the amazing things that people are doing to highlight their favorite air plants at home, but here are some of our favorite ideas that make the most of these unique and trendy plants:

Pre-made Arrangements: If you’re unsure or not confident about what to do with an air plant but you’ve fallen in love with their look like we have, it’s easy to still make a trendy statement. There are many premade options that you can select to bring one home – from driftwood arrangements to glass ornaments.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Terrariums: Making a terrarium is a great way to play around with combining your favorite sizes, textures, and colors to make a fun a stylish arrangement! Keep in mind the different needs of tropical and arid air plants as you mix and match to ensure that you have a creation with needs that are easy to meet, but embrace the flexibility of a terrarium as a display piece that makes it easy to remove and water your plants. Try adding other decorative elements instead of soil – like colorful sand or crystals – and even hang your design for everyone to see!

Wood Displays: Another fun way to get a natural framing of your plant that celebrates it’s unique soilless needs, driftwood or grapewood are perfect options that are ready for display. You can use fishing line or wire to attach an air plant to your wood piece, or you can even use a very small amount of floral or hot glue to keep it attached.

We can instantly see why these plants are so popular as our eyes are naturally drawn to them as a centerpiece in a room. They’re incredibly versatile and unique, and we love to take advantage of all of their special qualities to make something that stands out. For anyone that is bored of the same, traditional houseplants, wants to capture the newest trends at home, or wants something that they can be more creative with in creating a signature design, air plants are a versatile and charming option that won’t disappoint!

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The Ted Lare Look

Our garden style and trend blog, dedicated to helping you design and shape your dream home, garden, and outdoor retreat.

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