This week we are looking at some tips and tricks when caring for airplants. From simple maintenance to some handy hints on how you can use all natural treatments which lend to healthy plant growth.
Air Plants are generally easy to care for, low maintenance and require little effort to keep in a state of good health.However, they do need a few things to stay looking at their best. Having a good watering regime never hurts. Misting 1-2 times a week is recommended, although there are exceptions to this rule. Species and environmental factors have a role to play in any watering regime. Some plants like a good soak, some don't. Always research your plants individual needs. Light will also affect your airplant. Dependant upon which airplant you have, the level of light will vary. Again, research your plants needs. As a general rule of thumb, greener plants prefer less light than silvery/white coloured plants.
Direct sunlight is not generally advised for these strange yet delightful flora. The use of a plant feed is beneficial for many Tillandsia, it can encourage blooming and strong growth but again, as is the case for T.Tectorum, not all plants require feeding, so do your homework for the overall wellbeing of your plant babies.
General maintenance of airplants couldnt be easier. Take the time to inspect your plants every now and again. If you spot any brown tips, hold your cutting tool (scissors) at an angle to the leaf and cut just above the green. Good condition, clean and sharp scissors make nice, clean cuts. Remove any browning or loose lower leaves, these are usually a result of the plants growth, however, if you spot blotches or 'sogginess', this could be a sign of too little light or rot from trapped water or overwatering. In most cases, removing the affected leaves and correcting conditions should remedy the problem (unless the rot has set in too far).
In the right conditions your airplant may bloom. Plants sometimes blush before producing bracts. This is perfectly normal and this can be a very exciting time for airplant keepers. If you spot the signs of blooming, this is a good time to help your plant with a misting of liquid feed. Again, this will depend upon the type of airplant you have, as mentioned above. Once your plant has flowered, they will often produce 'offsets' or 'pups'. This is usually a time when you will see the mother plant decline a little but with a bit of TLC, trimming and ensuring the appropriate amount of feed/water, your plant should continue to remain healthy.
We recommend only removing 'offsets' or 'pups' once they reach 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant. At this point it is quite simple to remove them. Hold the 'offset' at the base between your index finger and thumb, (ensure you aren't holding the mother plants leaves) give the 'offset' a gentle twist, you should feel the plant give a little. Once you feel movement, complete the twist until the 'offset' is able to be removed entirely. Both the mother plant and 'pup' will be somewhat vulnerable at this time, so it's best to give them a few dry days to allow the 'removal site' to 'scab'. This will prevent any bacteria or disease from attacking your plant. After a few days, you can resume your normal watering regime.
A natural remedy for safe use with airplants is Cinnamon. Cinnamon is a natural fungicide and a light dusting can help protect your beloved Tilly from harm once you have removed 'offsets' or 'pups'. Give the plants a light dusting at the 'removal site' with a clean paintbrush and knock off any excess powder. Cinnamon can also be dusted onto your plant if you are treating it for rot. First remove all affected lower leaves in a spiral motion. Once you reach a clean base, use the Cinnamon as above. Always use a clean brush per plant and do not transfer from a sick plant to a healthy one. Cinnamon can also help in the treatment of Mealybugs and Scale. Simply make a tonic by steeping Cinnamon in warm water. Allow to sit till cooled and strain. Once strained you can mist this tonic onto your affected plants. This natural treatment can be used with most houseplants. Keep affected plants away from those that are free from pests or disease.