Take a stroll through the garden with me as I share insights, tips and “I wish I had known better” thoughts. As a designer, container gardener and plantaholic I have learned by simply getting my hands dirty that thumbs really can go from brown to green. Join me on a fun adventure.
Is this funky fish swallowing a green spider??? Read on... Photo credit; Katie Chapman
There’s a reason why I subtitled my blog ‘for thumbs of all colors’. I have one which is a pretty decent green and one a nasty mud color. The latter is due to my complete ineptitude to keep indoor plants alive. I’m so busy working in the garden that it doesn't even cross my mind to check on any plants which might be foolish enough to try and take up residence in our nice cozy home.
Hence my interest in air plants – and it would seem I’m not alone. These feisty little chaps were seen strutting their stuff all over the recent Northwest Flower and Garden Show not to mention in fashionable retail stores and nurseries across the United States. Maybe for once in my life I am at the forefront of a new trend.
So what’s the big deal? Well they don’t need soil. Or a plant pot. Or much water. Just a little spritz every now and then will do. Sounds like my kind of plant.
Air plants (botanically known as Tillandsia) gather their water and nutrients from the air rather than soil in the form of dust (now there’s a good reason they’d thrive here), decaying leaves and insect matter and are typically found growing on other plants in their native tropical and subtropical environment.
Clear hanging bubbles make a great display. Source
Looking like overzealous spiders these may be fleshy or more grass-like in appearance. They are epiphytes which means that their roots are used solely to anchor the plants to rocks or trees. In fact you may have seen a type of air plant in the wild – Spanish moss, also known as Old Man’s Beard trailing from the branches of evergreen oak trees in the Southern United States.
Create a miniature tablescape
Although the most popular way to display air plants is within a terrarium or miniature glass house, I have been advised that this is not ideal as a long term solution as air plants really do need good air circulation. Figures. So find a brightly lit spot, out of direct hot sun and be prepared to squirt them liberally with water 1-3 times a week depending upon the ambient temperature and humidity (and conscientiousness of their owners).
To encourage flowers they should be fertilized monthly in spring and summer with a ¼ strength solution of a high phosphorous fertilizer. (The fertilizer label has three numbers such as 2:4:2 with the middle number indicating the phosphorous content). That might be expecting a bit much of my indoor gardening skills, however!
Combine different colors and textures
There are lots of fun ways to display these little treasures – nestled in seashells, within diminutive wicker baskets or alongside interesting pieces of driftwood and decorative pebbles as a table centerpiece.
I may have finally found a houseplant that can withstand moderate neglect.
All I need now is a plant that can live on dog fur as well as dust.