Air Plants don’t require exhaustive care, and they adapt very well to different environments. However, in order to keep them alive, you will need to follow a simple care regimen. Use this guide to learn more about how you can keep your Air Plants happy and healthy.
The most important factors for the growth and development of your plant are:
Unlike other plants, we recommend keeping your Air Plant out of direct intense sunlight. Exposing Air Plants to direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time will “burn” them or dry them out.
Plants whose leaves are gray or silver are more tolerant of direct sunlight because these colors don’t absorb as much heat as others.
In winter, when the sunlight is not so intense, you can expose your plant to direct sunlight for a longer period of time, the rays are not that intense.
If you wish to be more meticulous, and you have a light meter at hand, the optimum amount of light would be 35K lumens, 20K as the minimum and 55K as maximum.
A good location for your plant would be next to a window, preferably one facing either south or east. That window will provide the indirect sunlight the plants need. Do not place them too far from the window (no more than 2 meters), as they will not get enough sunlight.
If you decide to place your Air Plant outside, on a patio, terrace or porch, choose a shady spot where the direct sunlight won’t burn the plant’s leaves.
In case you have no sunlit space, such as in an office or shaded neighborhood, Air Plants can grow and bloom perfectly under artificial light.
Incandescent bulbs (the ones we normally use at home) are not a good option for our plants because they don’t emit light in the appropriate spectrum, and because their intense heat can easily damage the plants’ leaves. A better alternative would be fluorescent lights, which emit light in a full spectrum. As to reliable brands, we recommend Phillips, Gro-Light-Sun Creeps, and Vita-Lite.
The optimal distance to maintain between the fluorescent light and plant is 30 centimeters. Distances closer than 15 centimeters will burn the leaves, whereas a distance of 90 centimeters or more will not provide enough light.
Some plants are kept inside a glass terrarium. In this case, it’s important to remember that the glass can intensify the sun’s rays and burn your plant more easily.
Also, in order for the plant to receive sunlight equally in all its leave, it’s necessary to rotate the plant from time to time.
Although they are called Air Plants, they need water to survive. In nature, Air Plants require a habitat that is high in humidity, generally around 65%. The humidity helps prevent them from drying out in the sun. In addition to watering your plants regularly, you will need to provide a certain amount of humidity in order for your plants to thrive. You can use a hygrometer to measure the relative humidity in the air.
You can provide water in two ways -through occasional baths (immersing the plant completely or holding it upside-down under running water) or by misting water directly onto the plant. If the plant has bloomed, do not immerse under water, as this could damage the petals.
Spraying your Air Plants two to three times per week and bathing them once every two weeks should be enough to provide them with the water they need.
After watering, it’s important to let the plant dry out within the next 4 hours to avoid plant rot. If you have decided to bathe them, be sure to shake off the remaining water, holding the plant upside down (sometimes plants keep water inside of their air chambers).
If you live in a warm area and you notice that your plant dries out in less than an hour, you may need to provide extra water, as the plant hasn’t had enough time to hydrate itself properly.
Another consideration to keep in mind when watering the plants is the shape and size of the terrarium. A small terrarium retains more humidity than a large one, so the plant will be hydrated for a longer period of time. Also, if the terrarium has holes, airflow will be better and the plant will dry faster.
When to Water
The best time is in the morning. Air plants get their nutrients during daylight, taking advantage of the moisture in their leaves to catch the nutrients. Conversely, Air Plants need to be dry during the night in order to breathe, taking in CO2 from the air. If the plant remains wet, it will suffocate.
If you notice that the leaves are flaccid, wrinkled, or rolled, that is a sign that the plant needs to be watered.
When it comes to watering your Air Plants, you needn’t worry too much about water quality. Rainwater or bottled mineral water are ideal, but tap water is just fine as long as it has a pH less than 8.
At the same time, there are two kinds of water, which you should not use for your Air Plants. One is distilled water, which will remove the nutrients from the plant. The other is artificially softened water, which contains too much sodium for Tillandsias and will cause the plant to die.
Do not place your plant over soil, as the humidity from the soil will cause the plant to rot. The roots of your Air Plant are used only for support while nutrients are obtained through the leaves.
- While it’s important to water your Air Plants, they should not be left sitting in water, as this will cause rotting. In fact, it’s better to water them infrequently than to over-water. Once the plant starts to rot, it becomes almost impossible to recover.
Air circulation is also very important for Air Plants as it helps to dry the plant after watering, maintains internal humidity, and provides nutrients the plant needs to survive.
For this reason, the best place for an Air Plant is next to an open window. If you choose to keep your plant outside, then you don’t have to worry about air circulation.
If you wish to keep your Air Plant inside of a terrarium, make sure there are plenty of holes to allow your plant to breathe.
To ensure healthy growth, the optimal temperature for your plant is 27 degrees Celsius during the day and around 17 degrees during the night. Temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius or over 35 degrees are not recommended.
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