The tillandsia, commonly called air carnation, is an increasingly common plant in the decoration of both gardens and interiors. Its success is due both to its exotic appearance, which helps to beautify any space, and to the little care it requires, making it suitable for beginners in gardening and plant care.
The tillandsia is an epiphytic plant , that is, in its natural habitat it grows on the trunks of trees or on rock walls, in areas without substrate or with very little, so it is also easy to think of orchids, other of the best known aerial plants, when it comes to talking about them. If you want to learn how to care for an air carnation or an air plant , join us in this article on the tillandsisas care guide .
Air carnation location
Air carnations are tropical plants . Taking this into account, we know that they will need a very illuminated area , although without direct impact, since in its natural habitat it grows in very illuminated areas but in the shade under the cover of other plants or the ground.
Due to their condition as epiphytes, these plants hardly develop roots, and the few that they do produce have the sole function of anchoring the plant to its support: they do not absorb water or nutrients. Thanks to this, it is a plant suitable for both indoors and outdoors, and it is very common to hang them on decorative supports with hardly any substrate.
Locate your tillandsia in a bright, well-ventilated area and, above all, away from external sources of heat or cold, which could dry it out and deprive it of the moisture it needs. Never expose it to temperatures below 10ºC or above 30ºC.
How to hang the tillandsias
As we have said, the air carnation is a plant that does not need soil , so its decorative possibilities are enormous. Look for clear plastic or glass tillandsia holders that allow you to see the entire plant from any angle.
When it comes to knowing how to hang the carnation from the air , take into account what is explained in its location needs. Use a support or container that allows the free circulation of air, which is where it takes its nutrients, and hang it where you prefer, protected from direct sunlight but in a bright area. In winter you can place the tillandsia in direct sun, while in summer it will be better near a sunny window but not glued to the glass.
How to water tillandsias
All epiphytic plants need an abundant degree of environmental humidity, since this is where they collect the water with which they hydrate. Learning how to water an air plant is not difficult, but it must be borne in mind that it cannot be done as with the usual terrestrial plants.
To maintain adequate moisture and hydration level in your air carnation, spray water on the plant so that it moistens its leaves. In the warm months you should do it daily, and in especially hot seasons this becomes vital. In fact, if the temperature is very high, you can temporarily immerse the plant in water, for just a few minutes, and then let it dry completely and return it to its location.
It is very important that you do not use tap water to water it, since the additives it contains will not do your plant any good. Use rainwater preferably or one with very weak mineralization. If you cannot access any of these, let the tap water rest for 24 hours before using it, so that its added elements are deposited and do not end up in your tillandsia.
Fertilizer for tillandsias
Since it does not have terrestrial roots that extract nutrients from the soil, the tillandsia needs to be fed with specific fertilizer for aerial plants . It is important not to use any generic fertilizer, which could harm you rather than benefit you.
Dilute the fertilizer in your irrigation water (remember not to use tap water) and apply it by spraying on it, once every 15 days .
How to reproduce tillandsias
If you take proper care of your air carnation and keep it in optimal condition, you will be able to see it bloom. The flowering of the tillandsia is spectacular and very beautiful, as it is of violet and fuchsia tones. After this flowering, it is very common for the plant to give rise to suckers, which can be used to reproduce it, since they will grow as identical copies of the mother plant. Keep in mind that the air carnation is a very slow growing plant, so you will have to be patient with it at this point.
Let the suckers grow together with the mother plant for as long as possible to ensure that when you decide to separate them, they will survive individually without problems because they will have grown enough. Never separate them before the following spring to their appearance, since it is the ideal time to do it. Carefully separate the branches of the sucker from those of the mother plant, trying not to damage either of them, and you will have your new tillandsia ready.