Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tillandsia or air plants...

I was out shopping last week and mainly looking around in a local store that I hadn't had time to explore very much.  The owner sells and uses the Annie Sloan chalk paint and she sells many of her up-cycled creations along with other items like handmade jewelry and clothing.  I passed by an area that had some rocks and plants and woodsy things and it caught my naturalist's eye.  Upon deeper inspection, I realized that none of the plants were in soil but appeared to be just plopped into  natural vessels so I asked the owner what type of plants these were and she said, "Air plants, also known as tillies, short for Tillandsia."  I was immediately enchanted by these unusual plants.  The only air plants I remember from my childhood were those "air ferns" which people sometimes grew in their bathrooms.  I never thought they were very attractive, but these plants have much more substance and character to them than the air ferns did.  Some are of the succulent group of plants, but all need no soil to live and thrive.  Some of the air plants like to eventually attach their roots to woody objects like drift wood or an old chunk of shaggy wood.

As I asked more questions, the store owner explained that all of the plants would bloom the most exquisite and colorful flowers.  That also intrigued me, so I decided to make a purchase then and there.  I bought the Ionatha at the top.  It is green with orangy-red colors coming from within it and is said to produce lovely little purple blooms.  The grass-like air plant in the second picture is called Juncea and right beside it in the rock is another Ionatha.  In the white vase is one called Funckiana.  Another plus to growing Tillandsia is that they will reproduce and pups will form after they bloom or after they reach a certain size.  I love it when plants have babies!

Air plants are considered "easy care" because all they really need is a dunk in a bowl or tub of water every 7 to 10 days depending on how humid it is in your home.  And that's it.  Some people spray-mist them and others I've read say it's better to saturate them by dunking them underwater for a few minutes, so I guess I'm of the dunking theory so far.  Did you know that Spanish moss is considered an air plant?  Some people combine the Spanish moss with the air plants in their arrangements.  I am so fascinated by these plants that I have been doing a little research online to learn more and I have discovered some beautiful ways to display air plants that really appeal to me -- rocks, wood, even hanging suspended in mid-air.  I will add some links for you to browse below.  I also have found that you can buy air plants on Etsy as well as other online stores.  They are, after all, easy to ship with no soil, and very little weight.  However, if you live in the north like me and it's a very cold season, shipping might not work so well.  It might be best to find a local plant seller or wait until warmer weather comes to purchase tillies online.  So my gardening continues through the winter months  indoors with my new-found plant love -- Tillandsia!

OK, now for the links to some fun stuff!

 How to Display Air Plants (video)
Air Plant Care 101 (e-How) 
Air Plants Care and Design Made Easy
Wedding Worthy Air Plants

If  you dare to go on Pinterest and search for air plants, you will be overwhelmed and very tempted to try them for yourself.  There are such gorgeous ideas out there.  Do you grow air plants or have you seen them growing wild in trees in temperate climes?  Do tell!


  1. Interesting! I'd wondered how they "worked". Enjoy your new plants!

  2. Oh I'm interested!! I recently saw one of those air plants at my SIL's and she had it attractively put in a piece of wood. I will have to find out where I can find one locally. Now I'm off to check out the links you listed!

  3. I've heard of air plants but have yet to try them myself. I'll look forward to your progress. Happy Holidays!

  4. I have heard of them. I didn't know that they bloomed. I will have to keep my open for them. Merry Christmas!

  5. Every time I see the air plants at the farmers' market, I want to buy one. One of these days, I will. This is cool!

  6. I do like the grassy-looking one best, but they are fascinating! What fun to have new plants in the mid-winter! Sounds like a neat store.


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