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!
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!"
"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
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
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
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
- They must be able to dry off quickly
- Should not be touching dirt
- No superglue!
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
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.