Hassle-Free Air Plants

There are many reasons why it’s good to have plants in your home or office. They take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen as well as helping to clean the air by absorbing pollutants. A study from Kansas State University showed that patients recovering from surgery suffered less pain and anxiety, and had lower blood pressure, if they had plants in the room compared to those with no plants. Other studies show that plants in a work environment help to alleviate stress and boost concentration and productivity.

We don’t all have green fingers so if you’re tired of choosing the perfect houseplants only to take them home and watch them turn brown, wither and die, then Tillandsia might be the answer – especially if you forget to water or just don’t have the time to care for plants properly.

Tillandsia – or air plants – are native to Latin America and the West Indies. They are flowering, evergreen perennials, and get their name from their ability to absorb all the moisture and nutrients they need from the air. Their leaves are covered in structures called trichomes – silver-hued downy hairs that allows them to gather dust, particles and moisture, and which also provide an unusual, exotic appearance.

In the wild, some air plants attach themselves to other plants or to rocks, while some grow on thin, desert soil. They have little or no root system – just enough to anchor them. Indoors, you can attach them to driftwood, cork, or even cables; they don’t have to be grown in pots. You can use a little floristry wire to ensure they are properly anchored, but, provided they are in a space that is warm and bright (but out of direct sunlight) with good airflow, they should be fine.

Your air plants will periodically need a little attention. Some produce offsets known as ‘pups’, and when these are around two-thirds the size of the main plant, they can be removed. Central heating dries the air out, so, in winter, spritz them with a little water just once a month. You’ll know when it’s necessary from the plant’s appearance: If it’s too dry the leaves become more silver in colour and the tips will curl inwards.

Some air plants are scented and some will flower; they all look mysterious and interesting. They also add colour and texture to any space, as well as confer all the benefits of bringing a little of the outdoors inside. So, if you like the idea of having some greenery around the place but struggle to keep pot plants healthy, give Tillandsia a try.

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