In the forests of Latin America, tillandsias have managed to do without the land to feed only on the humidity of the surrounding air. In our latitudes, they easily reproduce this feat in our interiors, where they bring originality and exoticism in exchange for some weekly misting …
Tillandsias, plants that feed on air
While some living beings would like to feed on love and fresh water, others manage to settle for the ambient air. This is the case of tillandsias, exotic plants with funny shapes that absorb water through their long, fleshy leaves. By a strange phenomenon of capillarity, they retain the least drop of rain or rosé, and capture the minerals in the water that flows from the canopy.
Freed from the constraint of keeping their feet on the ground, these explorers do not hesitate to go to discover the heights.They then use their roots to attach themselves to all the supports that cross their ascent: tree branches, rocks, pylons or even electrical wires…
Well anchored on their host, they then sway in the wind with elegance, which is worth the nickname of “girls of the air”.
Tillandsia, a multifaceted air girl
The tillandsia genus, which belongs to the large botanical family Bromeliaceae, has more than 400 varieties with very different aspects. Most have rosette foliage ranging from silver to dark green to all shades of green. Flowering is often spectacular, with very strong colors that reinforce the impression of exoticism that emanates from the plant.
Among the most decorative varieties are “Tillandsia xerographica” with silver foliage, “Tillandsia tectorum” with a downy appearance, “Tillandsia argentea”, an ideal plant for suspensions or the beautiful “Tillandsia caerulea”.
“Tillandsia usnéoides”, which cascades from tree branches, is more like silvery vegetable hair, which gives it the nickname “old man’s beard”. And to blur the slopes, some terrestrial tillandsias are sold in pots in garden centers, like the famous “Tillandsia cyanea” of Ikea!
Tillandsia, how to grow it?
Accustomed to the conditions of the rainforest, the girls of the air adapt very well to our interiors, where they are finally much easier to cultivate than we could not believe it. But be careful, you still have to follow a few rules! Indeed, if they seem to feed on the ambient air, it needs to be as loaded with moisture as the Amazonian dew.
In practice, it is therefore necessary to sprinkle generously and regularly: twice a day in hot and dry weather, and twice a week in winter.In the spring, consider adding a few drops of liquid fertilizer to your mist to bring minerals that are not in the air. Finally, your tillandsias need a lot of light, but do not tolerate the direct sun. However, once they have found their place and you have got used to moisten them, they will be like a charm!
Tillandsias lend themselves to all the craziness!
At home, the girls of the air are among the favorite plants of the amateurs of decoration and DIY. And for good reason, as they do not need land, they can hang on any object, highlight the most original suspensions, slip into a terrarium or even be fixed on a wall or a library.In any case, simply hang the plant gently with a wire or elastic and let him a few weeks to hang alone with his roots.
After, all eccentricities are allowed, like hanging a tillandsia to a sea urchin shell to create a strange jellyfish plant that will find its place perfectly in a cabinet of curiosities …