If plants could be superheroes, your air plant would be one of them. I’m going all in with my geeking out to say that ‘Tillandsia’ would be a cool intergalactic, nay, scientific name.
Let’s talk superpowers. They have to be flying and regeneration. You can literally hang these plants in the air without the need for soil. You wonder how they can stay alive for that long. Pretty awesome, huh?
The best news is, they’re practically fool-proof. Plant fans who just can’t make anything grow, this article is for you.
How do you care for air plants in Australia?
You may have heard of the Philodendron Pink Princess and how delicate she is. That one has a royal attitude and needs meticulous care, if I may say so myself. She’s a popular plant, though, with a social media following so huge that other plants want to be like her. Looking at you, pink congo.
Here’s the good news if you have a black thumb. Your air plant is nothing like the Pink Princess, apart from their mutual love of filtered sunlight. You can turn your affections to other plants if you prefer, and you’ll still see your air plant thriving loud and proud when you come back to it. Talk about grit.
Likes the sun, but not too much.
The Australian sun makes for amazing beach weather and a bronze tan, but if you’re a plant, the beach vibe can be overwhelming. While the air plant does thrive in bright, indirect sunlight, putting it under full, direct sun will cause it to lose its moisture and wither.
Filtered sunlight works best for your air plant. Let it stream through a polycarbonate roof or glass window for that right mix of shade and light. There’s enough sun to reach your air plant indoors without your plant going unhealthy or frail-looking.
Feeling a bit unsure if you’re giving your plant too much or too little light? Just leave your air plant hanging happily under your fluorescent lamp and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Easy.
Give it space.
Remember that friend of yours who likes hanging out with people as long as they don’t get too close? That’s your air plant right there.
This tough cookie isn’t sensitive to neglect. In fact, it needs space, literally. Your air plant needs good air circulation to grow, but leave out the soil for this one. It won’t thrive in a pot smothered with potting mix, fertiliser, and mulch.
Not to say that your air plant has issues with displays of affection. It just appreciates not being grounded (see what I did there) and prefers to be suspended in the air as only a true epiphyte would.
Shower thrice a week.
Here’s a caveat: air plants can die more from overwatering than underwatering. That said, your air plant prefers a misting once to thrice a week, depending on how hot the weather is.
Mist until your plant is wet all over. This should be enough to last it through the week. If you see its leaves curled, you may have to soak your air plant in a water bath for 30 minutes to get it to drink in more water.
Take care not to use chlorinated water when watering. Tap water in Australia usually has chlorine that can cause brown spots. Better to use rain or pond water if you’re feeling eco-friendly. Not everyone is particularly fond of collecting rain water or going to the pond to scoop greenish water into a bucket, though.
Here’s what you can do if you want to be clever about it. Just store good old tap water in a bucket or any container and leave for 24 hours. The chlorine will have evaporated by then and you have a fresh batch of misting water ready to go.
Fertilise once a month.
This is the equivalent of a spa treatment for your air plant. We recommend adding some fertiliser to the water bath once a month when the weather is warmer to revitalise your plant. Not so hard, is it?
Where do you put air plants?
Whether you want an ordinary or out-of-this-world look for your air plant, you won’t run out of options as to where you can put it. This plant is so compact and easy to care for that you won’t have any problem at all if you’re living in a small space with no garden plot.
Terrariums, glass bowls, and hanging vases are among the obvious choices to use for air plant decor. You can use just one air plant, or put them together in clusters for a fuller look.
This is your chance to live out your sci-fi obsession! Get creative with your vase and use cascading air plants to make it seem like tentacles are coming out of a nautilus or jellyfish. The sky’s the limit for this one. The crazier the idea, the better.
If you want your air plant to look a little less like a sea creature and a lot more plant-y, I say go for it. Put two or three air plants in a small pot without soil and there you have it, a new prop you can use for your WFH Instagram photo.
Where can I buy air plants in Australia?
If you’re thinking where to buy air plants in Australia, you don’t have to look too hard as there are a lot of shops selling them. Air Plant Decor, Bunnings, Flower Power, Rare Imports, and Marianne Annereau are just some of the stores where you can find air plants for sale.
Air plants online can start at $4 and reach up to $89 depending on the size, variety, and supplier. Those that come with decorated pots can set you back by $55 or higher. People are getting more artistic and a lot crazier with their pots nowadays, and you may have to pay more for a nicely painted pot than a plain one. We feel it’s worth it, though!
Can air plants be glued?
If you’re feeling crafty, you can certainly glue your air plants. There are plant-safe glues available in stores, such as the brand E6000, that you can use for mounting your air plants. You can also use a glue gun or Liquid Nails for this purpose, but not super glue as this can damage your air plant. Think of super glue and soil as your Tillandsia’s kryptonite.
You can use plastic covered wire or even staples when mounting if you’re feeling uncomfortable about putting glue on your air plants.
Why did my air plant die?
Never has there been a more poetic plant death than the air plant’s. An air plant eventually dies after flowering, but not before birthing 2 to 8 baby plants, or pups, in the process. You can remove the pups from the mother plant when they reach ⅓ the original size. Talk about an epic self-sacrifice.
Growing air plants in Australia shouldn’t be so hard, but there are a few reasons why our favourite indoor plant toughie can die sooner than expected. And no, pests are not one of them:
- Overwatering. Your air plant can die from too much water. A weekly or thrice a week misting should be fine along with a 30-minute water bath if the leaves are starting to curl or look wrinkled.
- Not enough air circulation. Air plants get their food from air, and having poor air circulation can lead your plant to become unhealthy. A spacious room or near a window is the perfect place for it.
- Not enough light. Your air plant will need light to make food. Make sure to put it near a window to give it enough filtered sunlight.
- Too much direct sunlight. Putting your air plant under direct sun for too long can burn its leaves and cause it to wither. Indirect sun is the best heat and light source for your plant.
- Low humidity or dry air. Curly or wrinkled leaves are a sign that the air is too dry for your air plant. When this happens, soak your air plant in a 30-minute water bath to revive it.
- Frost. Freezing temperatures can kill your air plant. During winter months, bring your air plants indoors and place them under a fluorescent light to keep them healthy.
- Copper wire or rust. Copper and rust are both toxic to air plants. You can use plastic-covered wired or glue when mounting.
If you feel that you’ve covered all the bases and are still stumped why your air plant is dying, it may be time to go to your friendly local gardening professionals for help. Their experts will diagnose what your air plant’s problems are and recommend the best treatment.
How many different air plants are there?
Not counting hybrid varieties, there are at least 450 types of air plants out there, and each one is freakier-looking than the next. If a sea anemone and an alien invader had 450 babies and they looked different from each other, that’s the Tillandsia family in a nutshell.
Some types can be mistaken as doppelgangers of Cousin It in the Addams Family. Other varieties look like they’re straight from Grass Gone Wild. You get the picture.
While it may not be for everyone, those who’ve acquired a taste for air plants find that these easily become a crowd favourite among the usual roster of indoor plants. Here are 10 of the most popular Tillandsia you’re bound to fall in love with:
- Caput Medusae.
- Streptophylla Hybrid.
- Tectorum Ecuador.
If for some reason none of these suit your liking, there are at least 440 other varieties you can look up for your next #urbanjungle collection.