Have you ever wondered if the plants growing on your neighbor’s fridge in a tiny magnetic pot is artificial or live? Or have you on your way around the block notice plants that are growing literally out of nowhere? There are high chances that the plants in question here are Air Plants – that like the name suggests; grow off Air. This blog aims at bettering your understanding of these mysterious and marvelous plants, it focuses on how to care for air plants and specific questions like how many times should the air plant be watered, why is my air plant turning red? And other questions alike.
Before getting into details about how to care for Air plants it is important to understand where these plants come from and list out the salient features that set these plants apart from the rest.
Table of Contents
- What are air plants?
- How to plant an air plant?
- How to care for air plants?
- When and how to water air plants?
- How much sunlight does the air plant require?
- Do air plants require fertilizing?
- Can I Keep my air plant in a container?
- Can air plants live outdoors?
- Why does my air plant keep dyeing?
- Can air plants grow under artificial light or low light?
- Why is my air plant turning red?
- Does change in color mean that my air plant is dying?
What are air plants?
Tillandsia or Air Plants as we know them are native to the deserts, mountains, and forests of northern Mexico and the south-eastern region of the United States, the Caribbean, and Mesoamerica. These plants are known as Tillandsia and have about 650 species of perennial flowering plants that belong to the Bromeliaceae family. Most of the plants across species have a silver-tone to their leaves that are covered with specialized cells that a capable of absorbing water from the air.
The most distinct feature of the air plant is that these plants are epiphytes which literally translates to “upon a plant”. These plants grow by clinging to other plants, telephone wires, tree branches, barks, rocks, and any surface they can find.
On account of the minimal rooting system these plants possess, they can grow and survive in the shifting desert sand. Another feature of this plant that makes it stand out from most house plants is the beautiful flowers that bloom in the most vibrant colors nature has to offer.
The only drawback or boon for home gardeners in most cases about caring for this plant is that they cannot grow in soil. They are unable to absorb nutrients from the soil making it becomes redundant.
Caring for an air plant is the simplest task ever and hence they are a favorite among home gardeners both expert and novice. Here is all you need to know about how to care for air plants, we will address a number of questions like why is my air plant turning red? Or when and how to water air plants?
How to plant an air plant?
Air plants have become a novelty these days and can be purchased from local stores, home depo or even online. Once you purchase your very own air plant and finish marveling over them and are finally ready to place them in your living room or kitchen. Here is all you need to know about the planting process:
Take it out of the packing it came in – including all the plastic and paper bits after they plant is out it needs to be submerged in water for 20 to 25 minutes. Water for soaking can be regular tap water or dechlorinated water depending on the variant. After soaking the plant needs to dry completely. For this, it is important to choose a place that is well lit and has good circulation.
These plants dry in about 4 hours depending on the time of day the plants were soaked or the place they were left to dry. Once the plant is dry you can place the plant in designated holders of makeshift ones made as a DIY project, you can also upscale bowls and other hollow objects to place the plant.
How to care for air plants?
Even though the air plant comes under the low maintenance category, there is a certain amount of care and concern that they require. Although these plants do not need a potting mix or a pot to grow, like all other house plants these plants require a certain amount of water, sunlight, and humidity to grow.
Some air plants flower and these can either be left on the plant or used in combination with other cut flowers to adorn vases. If you choose to leave the flowers on the plant, simply snap it off with a pair of sharp scissors when the flower wilts.
When and how to water air plants?
Unlike other house plants or plants in general, air plants do not have roots. They have small roots that act as anchors to keep them in place but these do not help the plant absorb moisture or nutrients. Air plants are native to humid and rainy conditions that prevail in Southern US, Mexico, Central, and South America, hence to see that the plant is in good shape it is important to mimic these conditions.
Watering these plants is easy you can either water them once a week, mist them often or dunk them in a sink. The amount of water an air plant requires depends on the variant, some need to be watered once a week while others can manage to survive without water for almost 2 weeks. Keep an eye on the plant to check if it requires hydration.
Tip: In winters when the humidity is low mist air plants often to keep them looking healthy and fresh.
How much sunlight does the air plant require?
In nature the air plant grows on barks and branches of other trees or on rocks and other surfaces, these places are generally shielded from direct rays of the sun.
The same way these plants when cared for at home like to be kept in a moderate to bright place away from direct sunlight. variants like the T. cyanea or T. lindenii can handle some speckled shade or morning sunlight.
If you do not receive enough sunlight where you live, don’t fret over it, invest in a good quality light. Air plants do well with artificial lights as well. If you receive ample sunlight the best place at home is close to a window but not right in front of it.
Do air plants require fertilizing?
Air plants are found in the wild and hence can grow without any artificial growth agents. Hence fertilizing them is not necessary. On the other hand, using fertilizers can help them grow faster and bloom better. There are fertilizers specifically available for air plants, these can be used once a month.
After going into details about how to care for air plants, it is time to look into frequently asked questions about the air plant.
Can I Keep my air plant in a container?
In terms of placement air plants are the most versatile, they can be placed in almost all containers, either you pick up a few from a store nearby, order funky ones online or upscale old containers, the choice is yours.
While choosing a container for your air plant be careful not to have a closed container. Air circulation is vital for the healthy development of an air plant so if u ask the question of how to care for an air plant the best? The answer is simple, let it live in a container with proper air circulation.
Along with questions about the containers to be used, there is a question that keeps popping up about where to plant these little wonders
Can air plants live outdoors?
Air plants are wild plants found in forests and other places; these plants love the outdoors as long as they receive sunlight that is filtered. In short, these plants can thrive anywhere as long as there are enough light and air.
The location of the plant also determines the amount of water it will require and the number of times they need to be misted. Plants left outdoors generally need to be watered more often as compared to the ones planted indoors.
Hence the air plant on your patio will need to be watered about 3 times a week as compared to once a week if planted indoors.
Caution: see that the plant is drying out within 4 hours of being watered. If not get a different pot or change the location.
Air plants are the simplest to care for as there are not many care instructions to follow. This being said sometimes we find our self in situations where things rarely go according to plan. Here are questions that encompass the same sentiment.
Why does my air plant keep dyeing?
Care rules for air plants are simple, dunk them in water when required, let the plant dry out then set them back in their container, apart from these they require a well-lit spot and proper air circulation. If these criteria are not met air plants will not do well.
The most common reason air plants die is overwatering, these plants rely on air molecules for their nutrition, their rots are mere anchors that keep them in place in the wild. Hence, when you over water these plants they rot and this causes them to die. Along with a lot of water, if the plant does not receive enough water it can wilt away.
There are so many air plants that die due to fertilizer burns when you get over-enthused and fertilize the plants more often than required or if the fertilizers used are too strong or the wrong composition, they suffer fertilizer burns. Another reason is sunlight, these plants require constant indirect sunlight or artificial light to thrive, if it receives too much light, direct sunlight or too little light they can die.
If these plants like light so much will they be able to survive in low lit conditions? How to care for air plants when the lights are low?
Can air plants grow under artificial light or low light?
Air plants love indirect sunlight but are not fussy about other lighting. These plants can be placed under artificial lighting as long as it is not too harsh or directly on the plant. These plants need about 4 to 6 hours of light every day and if this criterion is met the plant will survive, no matter if it is natural or artificial lighting.
Air plants do not do well in areas that are low lit, they will show signs of dullness and discoloration if they do not receive enough light. If you are planning to place the plant in a spot that does not receive enough light you could periodically move the plant to a brighter place to strike a balance and keep the plant in better shape.
When caring for air plants you might notice the plant changing color, they start off as green and then develop hues of purple, bight and vibrant red, deep burgundy. The color vary from plant to plant and variant to variant.
Most plant owners get alarmed when air plants the own change color. But, you need to know that most air plants change color. So if you have questions like why is my air plant turning red? Or why is my air plant turning a color different from the one I originally bought it in? be rest assured it is normal.
Why is my air plant turning red?
Plants like most living beings’ plants go through different phases of development and maturity. In air plants, a change in color means that the plant is maturing. It also indicated that you have cared for it well by providing an adequate amount of light water and air. A change in color is a sign that the plant is about to bloom.
The plant will start to show a coloration from the stems, from green they will turn into hues of red, yellow, violet, or burgundy. After the colors have set it you will see a bud in the center in a few days the plant will bloom.
Does change in color mean that my air plant is dying?
If your air plant is dying it will turn brownish and look pale and exhausted. Looking at the plant you will realise that there is no life left in it, the reasons why these plants die include excess or lack of sunlight, fertilizer burns, excess or insufficient water or rotting. These are visible and can be detected and treated in time, most of the time.
When an air plant changes color it means that the plant is maturing and about to bloom. These plants are known to die after they bloom but not before they produce offsprings also known as pups.
So, in a way a few days after the plant changes color and blooms there are chances that they will die soon.
Summing it up we can say that air plants are marvelous creations of nature that need to be cherished and treasured, unlike other house plants they are dainty and different. They are the perfect plants to make a statement. These plants can be placed in almost any container and the fact that it doesn’t require soil is an added advantage.
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The answer to the question why is my air plant turning red can be summed up in one sentence because it is maturing. Caring for air plants is also simple and can be done without the need to move things around in your day to accommodate a care routine. So, get an air plant today. Happy gardening!
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.