Our homes have been one of the most important assets we could have. It is where we spend the majority of our non-work lives. It is where we spend quality time with ourselves and with our loved ones. Therefore, it is not the oddest thing in the world if the idea of beautifying these living spaces ever comes to our minds. We can go the natural way and use indoor plants; a bit of green in a swirl of metro hues is a welcome sight at any time of the day. But in spaces where surface area is a luxury, air plants are the way to go.
Aerial plants are one of the best, not to mention cheap, additions. For one, air plants are good visual supplements to our homes. Additionally, these plants have several effects on the air we breathe in; they essentially become a healthy air filter aside from being cute little things floating in the air. Let’s get to know them, and realize how they can be the final piece to the puzzle of home beautification we’ve been looking for.
What are Air Plants?
Aerial, or air plants, are plants that have roots above the ground. You will find most of them hung in pots with little to no soil at all. There are many types of aerial plants. Some of them still have the traditional terrestrial roots, like the spider plant. Plants like these simply have aerial roots as supplementary parts; they do not completely rely on them for nutrient collection. However, there are some that have completely given up soil dependence. Called epiphytes, the textbook example for this is the orchid. They have developed their roots to not require the soil medium and collect the necessary nutrients for their survival from the air while relying on a third-party plant for support instead.
These plants are most often sought after by indoor gardeners due to the ease of setting them up. Most of these plants are also best put in places where one can easily see them, giving a calming atmosphere, metaphorically and literally. Most air plants have several air-filtering properties, which is the number one reason for anyone to actively find these plants. You will definitely want to have these little cute greens around. There are many air plants that you can find and add to your home!
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15 Best Air Plants For Your Home
Lady-of-the-Night Orchid Air Plants
The lady-of-the-night orchid (Brassavola nodosa) is a species of the Brassavola orchids and is appropriately named for its nocturnal tendencies. This air plant is known for being easy to grow, having long-lasting inflorescences, and its nightly scent that can easily encompass a large space. The orchid has white showy flowers and an undeniable strong citrus scent, emitted in the dark hours to attract night-pollinating moths.
Vanilla Bean Orchid Air Plants
It might come to anyone as a great surprise to know that the well-loved vanilla flavor is taken from an orchid! The vanilla orchid (specifically Vanilla planifolia) is the only commercially cultivated orchid as the main source of vanillin, or the vanilla flavor. Unlike the Brassavolas, these air plants are hard to grow. The orchid grows like a vine, and its flowers only bloom for one day. However, it is still worthwhile to pursue planting it as a novelty of having your own tiny vanilla farm (although you wouldn’t be harvesting and earning vanilla anytime soon with it).
Dancing Lady Orchid Air Plants
The dancing lady orchids, or the Oncidium orchids, are a group of diverse orchids, with equally diverse growing characteristics. The specific orchid in the image, the oncidium sharry baby, is sought after because of its scent. It is said to smell like chocolate. It is also an intense smell, which might be nauseating for small rooms. If you plan to grow a fragrant air plant collection, you would be amiss to skimp over the unique choco smell of this orchid.
Lady’s Slipper Orchid Air Plants
The lady’s slipper orchids (Cypripedioideae) get their name from the slipper-like pouches of their flowers. These pouches serve as a catalyst for their reproduction. When insects fall inside these pouches, they are covered with pollen, thus allowing pollination to occur. A good number of these orchids aren’t actually air plants and prefer the land, but some can handle being potted lightly and made into aerial plants, like the one in the image above.
Guarianthe skinneri Air Plants
The Guarianthe skinneri is a well-known orchid in the warm areas of the US like Florida and the Gulf Coast. In fact, this orchid is actually the national flower of Costa Rica. This popular orchid has also been awarded several flower quality awards. Also, Guarianthe skinneri is fairly easy to grow, like other air plants, thus it can be the quickest addition you can make to your home.
Spider Air Plants
The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is one of the easiest air plants to grow. The plant is durable, adaptable, and has a high tolerance for a wide range of conditions. The spider plant owes its name from its spiderettes, or the small plants sprouting from the mother plant. These spiderettes can become spider plants themselves, by potting them. This plant is more terrestrial than aerial, however, so taking care of it is more similar to that of plants on soil than on air.
Brachycaulos × Abdita Air Plants
This cute Tillandsia (air plants) is a hybrid of the Tillandsia brachycaulos and Tillandsia abdita. Both the brachycaulos and the abdita exhibit bright red hues in full bloom. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing for their hybrid to produce vivid red and pink inflorescences in their prime. These species are both highly coveted due to their significant shift of hue from growth to bloom. You would be missing out on your collection if you would miss either of the species or their hybrid. They are also relatively simple to take care, so there’s nothing else to fuss over.
Tillandsia xerographica Air Plants
Tillandsia xerographicas would make for excellent hanging air plants. With its long tapering leaves waving below its own base, it forms a tight rosette. You will hear much about this huge Tillandsia for its full and spherical shape. You can thank it for its leaves’ wavy burst then fall from its center. Its curls at the tips of its leaves and the magnificence of its rosette base are its charms. These make it all the reason to put these air plants in your home as part of your indoor garden!
Tillandsia tectorum ecuador Air Plants
Requiring the most minimal of care, the T. tectorum ecuador is a furry little addition to your air plants. Gathering from its name, this tiny one hails from the warm, warm lands of Peru and Ecuador. This plant has developed a frugal use of these nutrients as one of its adapting mechanisms, with its excessive trichomes. Because of this, this plant falls under the beginner box for not needing to be watered as much as the others. In fact, there are more not-to-dos than to-dos in taking care of this little fellow!
Tillandsia stricta Air Plants
Tillandsia stricta flowers can be considered a relative rarity. It is due to the fact that T. stricta only blooms once. To make up for it, the flowers last longer. Common to all Tillandsias is that these air plants also require very little maintenance. After blooming, “pups” grow from under the flower.You can take the pups off when they reached a third of their mother plant’s size and let them grow independently. You can also let them be. In doing so, the Tillandsia will then eventually form a clump, just like in the image above.
Tillandsia ionantha Air Plants
The T. ionantha air plant is definitely one of the most popular of the air plants. A large variety of ionanthas serve as a standing proof of its fame. They are also popular because they are very easy to take care of. The growth cycle of the ionanthas start with green and silver-hued leaves. Over time, the leaves extend outward as their green hue becomes darker. When the blooming phase commences, the leaves create a red and pink gradient together with the greens.
Tillandsia funkiana Air Plants
Tillandsia funkiana air plants resemble a caterpillar, a cactus, or a pine tree rather than anything else. But you would be wrong to think that it’s sharp because these leaves are actually soft. The plant is also hardy, making it a beginner-friendly Tillandsia. It grows on a stem and exhibits lightly-colored greens, making it a beautiful accent anywhere in the home. It also clusters very well, as seen in the image above.
Tillandsia bulbosa Air Plants
These Tillandsia bulbosa air plants can cast creepy shadows in the night. With its long-winding arms reminiscent of snakes or tentacles, it would be more scary than beautiful if not for its Tillandsia-ness. In the bright light, the bulbosa is a tiny beauty to behold. Its flat leaves form the eponymous bulb, where the arms also come from. As with most Tillandsias, the bulbosa is a breeze to take care of. Any newcomer to the business would easily welcome themselves into this happy world using these air plants.
Tillandsia aeranthos Air Plants
The Tillandsia aeranthos is best friends with the hummingbird in its natural habitat. The latter is responsible for its pollination. It has stiff green leaves which point upward to their light source. In bloom, their flowers are pretty in their pink hues, dabbled with beautiful purple ones later on in the season. You can also remove the growing pups and let them grow independently or leave them be to form a clump. Either way, the aeranthos and all its varieties are easy air plants to take care of.
Tillandsia caput-medusae Air Plants
It goes by the common name octopus plant or medusa’s head, and rightfully so for either. With its pseudobulb and its outstretched arms, it would be no wonder to mistake it as either. But nevertheless, these air plants maintain all common characteristics of Tillandsias. It is a beginner-friendly plant, can be formed individually or into clumps, and has trichomes which help it in taking in nutrients. It can also be planted in rocks as an aesthetic choice.
Why should you add Air Plants to your home?
Air plants arguably rank the highest in terms of little to no maintenance. Setting them up might be fussy, especially the orchids, but past that point, there’s nothing much to do anymore. Having them would perfectly fit in busy lifestyles of people who do not want the fuss of watering plants frequently. Also, some of them actually help in filtering the air around the house. But most of all, they are disputably the most beautiful accents you can ever add to an abode in a metropolitan setting.
Air Plants Maintenance
Maintenance tops all other reasons of why anyone would consider an air plant. Most aerial plants, especially the Tillandsias, require less than an hour of your attention every month. You only need to water them a few times in a week. Even in passable conditions, they will thrive happily and you don’t have to bat an eye at taking care of them. But this doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do for them. You’ll just need to follow a few tips here and there.
Due to their increased sensitivity to the air around, you will be spending the greatest effort in air plants to the setup. You will need to determine the optimal growing conditions of the air plants, and replicate them. Luckily, there are easy and simple fixes for these, such as changing locations. The most you might have to do is attach artificial lighting beside that plant. Even this step is reserved if you live in conditions in perfect contrast with the living conditions of the plant.
How To Grow Them
There are a variety of air plants around. Being highly reliant on air conditions other than anything else, you’ll need to understand a few things about the numbers relating to the circulating air.
Orchids are fussy with their growing conditions. Adapted to tree heights despite their size, they usually require longer hours with the sun (not directly) and proper air circulation. They are especially sensitive to humidity, light levels, and temperature. In the absence of sunlight, artificial light can be used as a substitute. The tillandsias pretty much have similar terms with orchids. They are also sensitive to several aspects of the atmosphere. After getting the conditions right, though, you can be confident that they’ll grow well.
How To Care For Them
Most epiphytes, like the orchids, have developed to need as much water as their natural environment can provide. That’s why some orchids require more or less water than their peers. You can check if the orchid has any moisture-storing structure; if none, they likely need more water, and vice versa. Take note that they take in greater damage with excessive moisture than drought. The orchid growing medium should also allow good air circulation along the roots.
With tillandsias, you can also follow clues in their appearance. You can estimate their water intake with a simple rule of thumb: hairy ones require less water, while glossy ones require more. Like orchids, excessive moisture can damage them more, by letting them rot. Also, most of them require no soil or trunk for support; they are perfectly happy suspended in metal prisms, as long as conditions are stable.
Where to Buy Air Plants?
Many small and big companies are selling air plants in retail and in bulk. There are a number of creators on Etsy who sells air plants complete with visual complements. Most of them have metal prisms and terrariums in store. If you want as less fuss as possible in setting up, you’re best off with Etsy creations.
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For garden hobbyists and expert gardeners, a niche market of air plant sellers exists solely for this purpose. These sellers have an advantage with having far greater diversity in plants. These sellers usually are expert gardeners themselves, so you can seek advice and guidance in taking care of the air plants. Their selections sell only the air plants for the most part, but the upside is that they allow bulk orders.
Final Thoughts on Air Plants
Not everyone has a green thumb to be able to grow a tree from a seed. But that doesn’t stop anyone from wishing they can do so. Air plants, with the ease of setting them up and taking care of them, are the window where we can wet our feet with the idea of growing a plant. Almost anyone can try out air plants, usually, at dirt cheap prices and with a little care you can even use them for pain relief or making tea. If you want to dabble in gardening, these plants are very much a good match for you. Even if you decide midway to give up the idea, you can still keep the plant and feel almost no change in your lifestyle, except the calming sight of green and floral colors ripping the ire-inspiring grey fabric of every day.
Nancy Drew here. I am a biologist. I love all living things, but plants have a special place in my heart. I aim to bring plants and YOU closer again. In this modern day, plants are easily the most neglected home and garden design necessity. For the most unacceptable reason, ‘Oh, I don’t know how to take care of them’ or ‘Oh, I don’t have a green thumb’. When in fact, plants can be your pet and they require less maintenance than any pet you’ll ever have. Ok, maybe I’m being pushy. But hey, if there’s one thing I want to tell you, it is that plants aren’t intimidating if you have the necessary knowledge for them. That’s why I’m here. I will share everthing I know about my beloved plants and hopefully you decide to adopt one in your home. You know, for fresh air, something to talk to sometimes, and possibly an instant destresser. Yes, I talk to my plants. A lot actually! If you got any concerns about planting, please don’t hesitate to message me.