Tillandsia are an easy, low-maintenance plant to give

I’m looking for an interesting plant to give to my best friend who loves gardening. Please give me your suggestions. Plants are grown indoors.

— Diana Perez, Naperville

I am considering purchasing a Tillandsia plant. They are commonly known as air plants and can be found in jungles, rainforests, and arid desert environments from sea level to alpine regions. It attaches and absorbs water and nutrients from the leaves. This classifies them as epiphytes. The plants absorb water through tiny scales on their leaves, giving many air plants their silvery or gray appearance. When the flowers bloom, many undergo a dramatic color change. Tillandsia is a relatively inexpensive and adaptable plant that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and requires minimal care, making it a good choice for home gardens.

Tillandsias grow differently than most other houseplants, so it can be a little confusing at first. You don’t plant them in containers with the growing medium. , using fishing line, twisted ties, nails, and staples to attach to supports such as driftwood or metal frames, or placed in containers such as glass bulbs without growing media. is attached. If the plant’s root system is large enough, you can use a heavy staple gun to pin the roots directly to the mount. Nails and staples should only be used on plants with a good root system or stolons. If using a hot glue gun, use waterproof glue and allow it to cool slightly before attaching the plant. Air plants need to be dry and should not be placed in a container of water. If you place the plant in a water-retaining area, empty the excess water after watering the plant. Do not surround the plant with water-retaining moss that can rot the plant. However, Spanish moss is open, airy, and does not retain moisture, making it a good choice for camouflaging roots and plant attachments.

Place the tillandsias in bright, filtered light, but out of direct sunlight. In general, the higher the indoor humidity, the more light the plant can tolerate. Silver-leafed varieties can usually be grown outdoors in full sun. If this is not possible, use Soaking Mist 2-3 times a week. Do not use distilled or softened water on your plants. Filtered water, tap water that has been left long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water, or reverse osmosis water works best.

Many people do not water these plants enough. If the leaves are too dry, they will be exaggerated and curl or curl. Ideally, give the plant plenty of air circulation and light and let it dry within 3 hours after watering. Spray mist is beneficial during regular watering. Indoor, very sunny areas should be misted daily or soaked in water weekly, depending on your preferred method. If the air isn’t too dry (like an air-conditioned house), it can survive foggy and occasional submersion. It is better to water in the morning than at night because Tillandsia can absorb carbon dioxide from the air at night rather than during the day. Air plants absorb nutrients through their leaves, so buy a fertilizer formulated specifically for air plants. Orchid and bromeliad fertilizers are also effective. These he applies at 1/4 to 1/2 strength.

For additional botanical advice, contact the Chicago Botanical Garden’s Botanical Information Service. plantinfo@chicagobotanic.orgTim Johnson is the Senior Director of Horticulture at the Chicago Botanical Garden.

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