Ever wished there was a plant that you almost didn’t have to care for? Maybe you’re a bit forgetful and find yourself leaving your plants to wither or maybe you travel a lot. Well look no further, the air plant species Tillandsia tectorum is your best bet!
They’re called air plants as they don’t grow in a medium, and will only survive with their roots exposed to the air. Whether they’re attached to buildings, wood, rocks or anything else, so long as they are growing in the air. I love my air plants because I hardly care for them compared to a lot of my other houseplants. Plus I find them in my local plant shop every time I go in, so I’ve got quite the collection now! The main elements of Tillandsia care is really just bright, indirect light and keeping them dry but in this article I’ll cover any parts of air plant care that can be a bit tricky. You’ll be the expert soon!
Table of Contents
- What Light Is Best?
- How Often Should I Water My Air Plants?
- Do Air Plants Like the Warmth?
- Do Air Plants Need Fertilizer?
- How Can I Display My Air Plants?
- Whistlestop Tour of Tillandsia Tectorum
- Varieties of Tillandsia Tectorum
How Should I Care For My Tillandsia Tectorum?
What Light Is Best?
You’ll want to keep your air plant out of direct light, because it might cause burns or scorched leaves. Bright light is light that will cast a super distinct shadow of the plant directly behind it, generally that’ll be light from a south facing window in the morning and midday. Therefore you’ll want to keep your plant a little distance from south facing windows. The phrase, ‘bright indirect light’ can be a bit confusing. But it just means your plant is slightly further away from the window or the light is coming through a sheer curtain. You’ll need it to be bright enough that you could comfortably read by the light. If you’re not sure about it, that’s okay, just keep an eye on the plant itself.
If you start finding that the leaves are going brown or bleached/ white then it’s probably getting too much light. If the leaves are not really growing or growing very far apart your air plant probably needs more light. If you do want to keep your plant in a lower light area that’s totally fine, try supplementing with a grow light or moving it to a higher light area every now and then. If you’re looking for any advice on which grow light to get we have an honest review you might find helpful.
Fun Tip: Air Plants can survive completely on artificial light making them a nice option for basement rooms or offices with no windows.
How Often Should I Water My Air Plants?
Of course air plants haven’t really got any roots, and therefore you won’t be able to water them the way you do other plants. Depending on how warm your house is, how high the moisture in the air is, and the time of year, your air plant will need watering between once a week and once a month.
To water your air plants you will need to either submerge them or mist them. There’s pros and cons to each method, but I generally prefer to submerge plants than to mist. In contrast I would only advise the misting option if you can’t take your air plant to a sink or container.
My personal advice:
Take a small container or use the sink, first fill with enough water to submerge the plant fully. I would recommend using rain water because air plants can be a bit sensitive to the chemicals in tap water. However it’s not the end of the world if you can’t use rain water or filtered water. Then let the plants soak in the water for about half an hour, and then, the key is that they are able to dry fully. Next shake the plant to dislodge drops of water stuck in between the leaves and then leave them upside down on a towel or cloth for a few hours before putting them back into their usual spot.
Incredible Fact: The little fluffy white things that cover the leaves of the tectorum are called trichomes and they reflect sunlight away from the plant to stop it from dying out. Hence why it doesn’t need a lot of extra watering from us!
Do Air Plants Like the Warmth?
Air plants will be damaged, potentially even fatally if they are left in super cold conditions. So that is to say it’s important therefore to keep them away from windows in the winter. They should be kept roughly at above 45ºF but there’s no exact number when it comes to plants.
Do Air Plants Need Fertilizer?
Tillandsia tectorum are native to environments with very little nutrients available and are adapted to this way. They grow slowly and absorb whatever nutrients they can find, so you don’t really need to fertilize them at all.
How Can I Display Air Plants?
You can grow your air plant attached to any piece of wood that strikes your fancy. These can be rested on shelves, hung up near windows or certainly nestled in pretty much any space. You can normally find these in garden centers or home improvement stores for affordable prices.
Reuse any old glass or bottle for this one, you can literally just pull something from your recycling and give it a good scrub, or maybe find something at the thrift store. Terrariums are such a pretty option for showing off your air plant and making sure it gets plenty of light. Plus they’re quite commonly sold this way so if you just want to buy one ready made it won’t be hard to find! A fully enclosed terrarium isn’t really suitable for air plants as they stay very humid and moist. Whereas air plants really just need dry, arid conditions. Try nestling the air plants in a bit of sand or gravel to keep them upright inside the terrarium, or else they’ll be lopsided.
Playing off of the air plant’s resemblance to sea creatures, people often use shells to suspend their air plants. It’s definitely a more controversial one, you might like it, you might not, however you can’t deny it is whimsical. The plant’s are sometimes suspended below the shells for a jellyfish look but there’s a lot of options available, you could even make your own with shells from holidays or special days if you wanted to make it extra personal to you.
This method of displaying air plants is so much less common to see, but I can’t understand why because it’s magical, and an amazing way to make an eco-friendly wreath for holidays. You can combine your air plants with mosses and other greens to create whatever design your heart desires. You can also find these ready to go on Etsy if you fancy buying one ready to go.Mobiles
Mobiles are a super cute way to bring greenery into your home without taking much space. For example I think they’re perfect for a nursery. You can either suspend the air plants just by the plant itself or have them in terrariums, containers, shells etc, and then just hang them from a hoop in whichever pattern you like.
This is one of my favorites, so I saved it til last. It’s just so so customizable you can make magnets out of literally anything. You just need some magnet tape and then you can make a little container from clay, card, glass, a bottle cap or a wine cork. This option is also so great because it allows you to get some greenery into your kitchen even if you don’t have any counter space to sacrifice for instance.
If you can think of any other way to display air plants please drop us a comment to inspire us and others! We love hearing from you.
Whistle Stop Tour of Tillandsia Tectorum
The name ‘tectorum’ comes from the Latin word, which means roofing in fact. This is because you’ll often find these little plants growing on rooftops in the Andes for example. The technical term for this, if you’re interested, is epiphytes which means they grow in trees or lithophytes which grow on rocks. The Tillandsia tectorum is a species within the genus that is native to Peru and Ecuador that lives naturally as lithophytes, growing on cliff faces and rocky areas.
|General Info||Tillandsia is the name of the plant genus (group) which contains approximately 650 different species of flowering plants|
|Native to||Mexico and South America.|
|Difficulty level||suitable for beginners|
|Light||lots of bright, indirect light is best|
|Watering||submerge in water once a week|
|Humidity||these guys thrive in dry conditions|
|Extra Tips||make sure no water is left stuck in any nooks or crannies which will lead to rot, pests and sometimes plant death|
Varieties of Tillandsia Tectorum
Tillandsia tectorum ‘Snow’
The Tillandsia tectorum ‘Snow’ is a truly whimsical cultivar. It has a white/silver foliage and can bloom pink flowers. They are native to Peru and Ecuador and can grow in areas with almost no nutrients or water such as on rocky edges. However this cultivar needs bright, indirect light and the very occasional watering. Every few weeks – best with rainwater.
A general tip is that the air plants with darker, greener leaves will need more watering. In contrast the air plants with white or silver foliage are more drought tolerant.
FAQs for Tillandsia Tectorum
What is the lifespan of Tillandsia?
The average air plant will live approximately two to five years, it really depends on whether you care for it well. Air plants can produce pups, which you can propagate so technically you could have the ‘same’ air plant indefinitely.
Should I cut the flower off my air plant?
Unfortunately, the air plant will only produce one flower before it dies. If you want to propagate the air plant, it is a good idea to cut the flower once it has died, since this will promote the growth of little offspring. If you are going to fertilize your air plant, now would be the best time to do so, in order to allow the plant sufficient energy to grow a new pup, but it won’t be necessary if the plant is getting enough light and seems healthy.
The Bottom Line When It Comes to Tillandsia Tectorum
The main things for caring for this type of air plant is minimal. Occasional water with plenty of bright, indirect light and plenty of warmth. Ensure the plant is fully dried and there’s no trapped water in the leaves as this will cause rot. I’d definitely vote this plant best for someone looking for a low maintenance boost of nature in their home. Especially in the terrarium (my favorite display) since they look so nice and don’t take up any room if you hang them up for example. If you come across any trouble with your air plant, our comment section is the place to be!
Enjoyed Learning about How to Grow Air Plants?
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