Knowing what succulents like and dislike will help you figure out when to tend to your near-invincible living works of art and when to let them be. Here are a few pointers to help you get growing.
Knowing what air plants (Tillandsia) like and dislike will help you figure out when to tend to air plants and when to let them be. Here are a few pointers to help you get growing.
Light: Lighting for Tillandsias should be bright but filtered (April - October). They should not be left in the direct sun in the summer months (this will cause the plant to become sunburned). Tillandsias love direct sun (November - March). Tillandsias may be grown in the house directly in front of a window. Fresh moving air is advisable, but remember, the most important care need is bright filtered light. Beware of trees, overhangs and window tinting that can rob your plants of needed light. For best success, place plants in a room that gets plenty of sunlight.
Water: Thoroughly wet your Tillandsia once per week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in a cool, humid one. Plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in no longer than 4 hours after watering. Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular watering. in dry climates to increase the humidity. If the plant is in a shell, be sure to empty the water out. Tillandsias will not survive in standing water. Under-watering is evidenced by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf.
Air Circulation: Following each watering, Tillandsias should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in 4 hours or less. Do not keep plants constantly wet or moist. Temperature: Optimum temperature range for tillandsias is 50 - 90 degrees F.
Rot: By far the most common problem that occurs with Tillandsia is rot. This occurs when water accumulates in the center of the plant. Once an airplant has started rotting the outcome is inevitable and will result in the death of the plant. The outward appearance of the plant can look healthy, although some of the leaves will have a brown or black appearance. The best way to check whether a Tillandsia is rotting is to gently tug on the central leaves of the plant - if it is rotten the whole plant will disintegrate. Avoid rot in your Tillandsia by taking care to ensure that no water has accumulated in the center of the plant (turning it upside down and giving it a gentle shake), make sure that your plant has sufficient air circulation to dry within a few hours of watering, and check that water is not sitting on your display medium. If you are keeping your Tillandsia outside in the summer, then angle your plant to ensure that rainwater flows away from the plant and does not sit in or around it.
Dehydration: Underwatering, can also be a problem. There is a widely held perception that the name "air plant" means that Tillandsia can live without water or that they can take all their moisture requirements from the atmosphere. Early signs of dehydration include an exaggerated leaf curvature and brown, dead leaves. It is possible to revive a dehydrated Tillandsia, if not too far gone, by soaking it overnight.
Shedding leaves: Tillandsia will often shed their bottom leaves when stressed or while acclimating to new conditions. Loose leaves can safely be removed by gently tugging downwards on them (the same applies to dead leaves). The only thing to watch for, is that this may also be an indication of rot, if it is, then the whole plant will come apart. If your plant continues to "molt" then try changing its position.
Brown or scorched leaves: This could be due to a number of causes, including too much direct sunlight or underwatering. Fine leaved Tillandsia species are especially prone to brown leaf tips as a result of being underwatered. The "dunking" method of watering Tillandsia prevents this. Brown leaf tips can be removed by snipping the leaf at an angle. Brown leaves can be removed by gently tugging downwards on them. Most Tillandsia species do not like direct sunlight all day, therefore if scorching is occurring try moving the plant to a different spot in the house or garden.