Living off the air: all about tillandsias

Substrates, pots, watering patterns and I don't know what else. Let's face it: some people have a hard time with plants, either because they have a hectic lifestyle or because they just don't want to deal with pots, soil and plants. If you have a fussy cat or a dog that likes to dig and you've found a mess of soil and a dying plant in the middle of your living room, you'll know what I'm talking about.

does this mean you have to resign yourself to living with hideous plastic plants? Well no, because tillandsias are there to save the day, fill your space with greenery and style.

Air carnations

Tillandsias or air carnations, as they are also known, are a family of bromeliads and are a species of plants that literally live off the air. They are epiphytes, i.e. they develop by clinging to another plant, but they are not parasitic as they obtain everything they need to live on their own.

Most plants obtain food from the soil, using their roots to transport water and nutrients. Tillandsias, on the other hand, are so special that they do not have roots, but absorb moisture and nutrients with trichomes, specially modified cells found on their leaves. As they do not need a substrate, these plants are very popular in interior design.

There are about 500 species of tillandsia. Depending on the species of tillandsia, it can be a succulent or semi-ucculent. There are a few that produce beautiful, spike-like flowers that usually appear in spring and summer. All are native to the Americas and have been found in deserts, beaches, forests, mountains and cities. This is because air carnations are able to adapt to any environmental condition.

So if you're an expert at exterminating every plant it touches, these are just the ones you need.

Caring for a tillandsia

Tillandsias are a bit like cats in that they are very independent plants that don't require constant supervision or excessive care. You don't need to keep them in a huge pot or buy a special substrate. You can go to online plant nursery shops, look for the arrangement you like best, wait for your plants to be delivered to your home and put them just where you think they will look good. She will adapt to that space and offer you her colours and beauty.

While they are undemanding, there is some basic care you need to take to keep your little tillandsia radiant and happy. It is best to keep it out of direct sunlight, especially in summer. There is no need to water it, but you should spray it with water (hopefully rain or mineral water) once a week, until you see that it is soaked.

Some people prefer to water it by immersion. Take the plant and immerse it completely in water (preferably rain or mineral water) for a few minutes. Then shake it well to remove excess water and place it in its terrarium. If you feel like it, you can add a liquid fertiliser dissolved in the water and spray it every 3 or 4 weeks, although this is not usually necessary.

You don't have to worry about pests and diseases. They are very resistant species but check them from time to time in case they are attacked by a mealybug, spider or mite. It is very rare, but it can happen.

Decorating with Tillandsias

These plants are beautiful, with delicate, elegant lines and very interesting colours ranging from neutral greys to bright greens. Several others bear flowers and almost all of them grow like a waterfall. They look beautiful in modern, minimalist or eclectic decorations, although it all depends on the support you use.

One of the main advantages of air carnations is that they don't require a substrate, they just need to be placed on a surface they can stand on. This means that you can let your imagination run wild, because you don't have to worry about watering, soil or the size of the pot. You will be able to create arrangements with tillandsias anywhere.

You can create tillandsia arrangements with glass terrrariums on tables, counters and desks. Place them in glasses, in the centre of a candle dish, on bark, in spirals or wherever you like. The condition is that they are not completely enclosed, as they require air and humidity to live.

Glass terrariums offer an ethereal, natural and polished look, especially if they are suspended from the ceiling. You can hang several of them, playing with the heights of the threads, and create a beautiful composition in a corner. As they are so luminous and delicate, they are perfect in small spaces.

If you don't have much experience with plants or you are looking for a different species that is very easy to care for, complements your decor and that you can't kill, you need a tillandsia.

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About the author
Ame Rodríguez

Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.

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