Tillandsias, commonly known as Air plants are the largest genus within the bromeliad family with over 550 species. They are native to Central, South and North America where they are found in many different contrasting locations; both in the rainforests and dry desert environments-from sea level to high mountain ranges.
Unlike Bromeliads, Tillandsias have highly developed scales on their leaves called trichomes through which they absorb all their moisture and nutrients. These trichomes give many air plants their silver or grey appearance. These hardy and adaptable plants are suited to a wide range of conditions and are easy to grow and require little maintenance.
Most tillandsias do not need to soil to grow and are therefore classified as epiphytic; meaning that they grow on hosts such as other plants yet are not parasitic and will not harm the host plant. Since tillandsias are epiphytic, the mounting medium you choose is limited by your imagination.
Tillandsias prefer bright yet filtered light. They should not be left in direct sun during the summer months as this will cause the plant to be burn. Tillandsias may be grown indoors if placed next to a window to allow bright light.
Thoroughly water the Tillandsias at least 2 times per week; more often in a hot and dry environment and less often in a cool and humid position. Plants should be given enough light and air to allow them to dry out quickly. Spray misting must be supplemented with a soaking to allow plant to be wet properly. Adding some weak dose of soluble fertilizer in the growing months (spring and summer) will be of benefit to the plant.
Tillandsias love good airflow and need it to thrive.
Tillandsias use their root systems to attach themselves onto their host and absorb all moisture and nutrients through their leaves. The main purpose of their root system is for anchorage, just making sure that it is firmly attached to its host. These root systems are not necessary for the growth of the plant.
The three main ingredients to making your tillandsias thrive are: AIR CIRCULATION, LIGHT AND WATER
Tillandsias can be mounted on just about anything - driftwood, sea shells, coral, crystals etc. Just make sure that adequate drainage is provided as plants should not be allowed to stay wet longer than needed.
Since tillandsias do not require soil to grow and prosper, they can be displayed in many ways not available for traditional plants.
Tillandsias can be mounted by their roots and base to almost any surface using Liquid Nails, Hot Glue Gun or most non-toxic adhesives. Larger plants can be supported with fishing line until glue dries.
Other Bromeliads include:
Alcantarea are native to eastern Brazil, where they grow terrestrially in open places; this means that they do need soil. Good drainage is essential and most prefer full sun. They are very large growing to 1m-2m in diameter at full size and have brightly coloured, lightly coloured, or white and green inflorescences that are spectacular. The inflorescences can be up to 2.5m.
Guzmania flowers are extremely colourful, exquisite and long lasting. They range in sizes from a very tiny 10 cm to more than 1 metre high, with striking ample foliage that is generally vase shaped, to hold water. They have soft looking corrugated or smooth shiny green leaves with no spines on their edges. These plants in habitat are mostly epiphytical, but also survive and flourish as terrestrials. (Not needing soil but do thrive in it!) This adaptability allows them to grow well in plant nurseries and are easily cultivated.
Flowers form in a shallow depression the center of the plant, which often fills with water, through which the flowers bloom. The leaves immediately surrounding the flower are very often brightly coloured, and many species show banding or striping on most or all of their leaves.
www.exoticlife.com.au - (tillandsias)
www.growingsolutions.com.au - (soil)
www.kimbriki.com.au - (recycled supplies)
www.thinkoutside.biz - (ant and goanna artwork)