How to Grow: Tillandsia

Learn about this unusual houseplant that just needs air and water to survive in your home.

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Succulent Plant, Tillandsia, Garden, Roots, GardeningLet’s face it. Houseplants just aren’t very sexy. Sure they are green and clean the air, but they’re often just very common looking. Plus, many people get intimated by houseplants, thinking they will kill any plant. Well, the latest houseplant trend changes all that. They are tillandsias or air plants.

Tillandsias are types of bromeliads that naturally grow on trees in the topics. What’s cool about these plants is they don’t need soil to grow. They get all the water and nutrients they need from the air. Hence the common name. This makes them a good choice for the black thumb gardener in the family. Plus, they are just so darn cute!

Tillandsias come in many different shapes and sizes. Some look like plants from the movie Avatar, while others look like an octopus. They can be mounted on wood and hung on a wall or even inserted into a hollowed out wine of champagne bottle cork. However, I think the best way to display air plants is in small globe-shaped terrariums that can be hung in a room. These terrariums have good air flow which is important for them getting the nutrients and water they need. And it allows you to decorate your tillandsia plants with drift wood, moss, pebbles, colored glass and other materials. It’s part art project, and part gardening fun.

To keep them growing best, simply place the tillandsia in a bright room, out of direct sunlight. Remove the plants from the terrarium every 2 weeks and soak them in non-chlorinated water for a few hours to rehydrate the plants. That’s it. They’re low maintenance and a great indoor project to do with your kids this winter.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio