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Picture of Grow your own Airplant!
Have you always wanted houseplants, but worried about dirt in the carpets, bugs in the dirt, and just general annoyance when you flood the pot too much, pouring muddy water over your new carpet?

Are you just generally fed up with flowers in your home? Want to break out with a plant that makes your friends go "Huh?"

Low on cash?

Why not grow some air plants!
 
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Step 1: What is an Airplant, and how do I get them?

Air plants, true name Epiphytes, are plants native to warm areas such as Florida and Central America, mainly characterized by the fact that they posses no roots, instead absorbing water and nutrients through their leaves. Contrary to their common name, air plants DO NOT live on air, and some species are aquatic, growing on seaweed.

Air plants do not harm their host, instead using it as support. When attached to trees, they grow root-like tendrils to latch themselves in place, which can be safely broken off if harvesting.

The Genus Tillandsia is the most commonly sold, and the type pictured in this instructable. I suggest starting with one of these.



I bought my air plant at Marfield's, an American garden supply chain, for $4.99. That simple. They can also be purchased online, in greater variety, here.

Step 2: Air Plant myths

Many people who hear about Air Plants are given myths about how easy they are to care for. Statements like:

"You don't need to water- they live on air!"
or
"Just lightly mist once a month!"
This is complete and utter BS.
Take notice that air plants ARE NOT maintenance free. They need water, a proper environment, care, etc. While easier than the typical houseplant, they are work. Do not overlook this.

Step 3: First Steps

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When you get home from the store/ receive your plant in the mail, immediately take it out. Fill a cup with tap water (distilled water does not have the minerals needed) and soak your plant for 1-2 hours. I did not do this my first time, and ended up with a dry and ugly plant. Now that same plant is lush and green.

After your plant is done soaking, remove it from the water and let it dry. It should take no longer than a few hours for it to be dry to the touch. Otherwise, it may grow mold or other things.

Step 4: Watering

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Make sure you water your plant 2 to 3 times a week, either fully immersing it for a little while or soaking it under the tap for several minutes. Its also a good idea to give your plant a 2-3 hour soak every month or two as well.

If you're not sure whether to water or not, its probably better to water. They live in Florida, sheesh! However, if you really need to check for some reason, grab one of the bottom leaves on your plant. Try and pull it off. If it resists, the plant is dry. If it comes off, your plant is fine (but now missing a leaf!). Don't do this too often, for obvious reasons.

Step 5: Fertilizing

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Tillansia plants do not need fertilizer, but it can be added. If your tap water is to salty, acidic, or disgusting to use on your plant, you can replace it with distilled water and fertilizer at 1/4 the recommended strength, or simply add the fertilizer to tap water every now and then to encourage growth. Make sure you choose a type that will dissolve in the water and that will not harm your plant.

Step 6: A holder

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As Air Plants, do not, in fact, need dirt, they can be put almost anywhere, with some considerations.

  • They must be able to dry off quickly
  • Should not be touching dirt
  • No superglue!

Some people glue their plants to fishing line and hang them up. Due to the plant's Hens-and-Chicks reproductive style, the one plant eventually turns into a massive sphere.

Personally, I just bought a cheap pot and little clay dish when I got the air plant, and put the dish on top of the upside-down pot to make it look like bird-bath.Total cost? $1.50.

Step 7: Flowers

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A Tillansia plant will flower once in its life, and then start producing chicks. After this it eventually dies.

If you get a flower, you are EXTREMELY lucky, and thus should be very careful. Do not get it to wet, as it may dissolve. Don't let the plant dry out. Don't knock it off. They are very pretty, so appreciate it while it lasts.

Step 8: The End

That's all the basics of raising an Air Plant! If you follow these instructions correctly, your plant can easily live for years.

For more information, I happily send you to this site.
Its a really good resource for information and stuff.
LadyMo200010 months ago

I recently moved to Florida and would like to harvest some of the wild air plants to create living ornaments to send home for Christmas. How do I harvest them?

^^2 years ago
I have a really quick question about my recent air plant and I really thankful to anyone who reply to this: I bought an air plant few months ago and one of my cousin accidently drop it on the ground which then got ripped apart by my dog so I tried to save the remaining green leaves- so I dont think they will be able to bloom no? thanks again for your reply
Maybe I have have a different type of air plant ( but I know it is a tillandsia) I have several that I bought from a guy that farms them he said you need to keep them in relatively good sun light like close to a window and mist them once a week which is what I've been doing and they look fine and most of them have bloomed I just heavily mist them making shore they are good and wet. Iv hade them for about two months

Air Plants are exciting and very easy to care for.  I have easy care instructions on my site.  They do require water and bright light and if you have an air plant that hasn't done a thing except look pretty then first determine that it is alive by soaking for an hour.  If it falls apart then it died awhile ago.  If it perks up then you can now prod it into bloom.  After the bloom dies, it will develop pups or babies.  These can be left to "clump" or separated from the mother plant to grow on their own.  The plant pictured is one of my favorites and is an easy care plant, just now coming in to bloom.  It is called a Brachycoulas Hybrid and has stiff leaves, turns red when budding, and has awesome flowers.  Find out more at Air Plant City
BRACHYHYBRID2.jpg
l8nite6 years ago
Like I said, its "wild", they are all over the place, of course I live in north east florida so thats expected. I have had them inside before, mainly in the bathroom but they need more sunlight than I allow in (sunlight equals heat) Its kind of like Geckos, the little green lizards are all over (they do a great job controling insects) but in other areas they cost $5-10us in petstores!!
dombeef l8nite4 years ago
I live in middle florida and they are everywhere! i used to have one but i left for a week and it died
zimginny5 years ago

What a beautiful plant to put in a home with a lot of white carpeting!  How would you propogate this plant?

Rotten194 (author)  zimginny5 years ago
If I remember correctly, the plants grow by producing little plants that look like a miniature version of the parent plant around its base. They're usually pretty easy to spot. Then I believe once they are big enough you can simply pull them off, but you might want to look that up as I'm not sure where I read that. You can also just leave them on and eventually you will have an air plant ball.
3 years ago I got an air plant, i put it on a windowsill in my kitchen and haven't touched it since then, and it's doing fine.
Rotten194 (author)  Magnelectrostatic6 years ago
Um... wow? Someone must be watering it, or its getting rain, or something. Mine dries out in 4 days if not watered.
I wonder if it died then, it doesn't do much. I mean I know it's a plant but i never do anything to it.
My mom bought me an "air fern" about 4 years ago and the tag specifically says that is "thrives on neglect." I haven't watered it or anything ever since I got it and it's still green as the day I got it. I wonder if it is a fake. lol.
its not real, my mom has a similar plant.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_fern
Oh wow. That's fantastically interesting. All this time it was actually the skeletons of a bunch of dead animals. lol.
 awang8 must be right, I wonder if it'll melt......
Well it never felt like plastic. I checked because I thought it was fake the day she gave it to me (it sounded too good to be true). oh well. it still looks cool.
 I was thinking about this instructable so I watered my droopy air plant. It really does look a lot better now, not all lazy and stuff...
Hmm... Evil nurseries selling plastic plants known as "no maintenance plants" trying to fool inexperienced gardeners... Oh sorry... Just talking to myself about conspiracy theories...
l8nite6 years ago
Here is the opening pic of my hanging oillamp instruc you'll see a Tillandsia growing in the "wild" (its just to the right of where the lamp is hung in the tree) These generally grow in the upper branches of oaks along with mistletow (another epiphyte) but as you can see its happy in my crapemyrtle
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Rotten194 (author)  l8nite6 years ago
That's cool! have you considered "harvesting' it and growing it indoors, or are you going to keep it outside?