Friday, March 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Tillandsia: The houseplant that takes care of itself

By
From page C4 | January 26, 2014 |

Don’t have time for the upkeep of a typical houseplant? Consider a Tillandsia.

Commonly known as an air plant, Tillandsia grow almost anywhere without soil and with little watering. This forgiving plant not only fends for itself while you work but doesn’t require a plant-sitter when you take a vacation.

Air plants also provide a unique accent to the home. Design possibilities are only limited by your imagination because a Tillandsia isn’t restricted to a flower pot. This plant is a conversation piece when nestled inside a seashell beside a sink, attached to a piece of driftwood mounted on a wall, or resting atop a glamorous candlestick holder on a side table.

Habitat and history

Tillandsia belong to the Bromeliaceae family, a genus of over 600 species. Depending on the species, they thrive in arid to tropical zones throughout the deserts, rainforests and mountainous terrain of Central and South America, the West Indies and the southern United States.

Also known as an epiphyte, an air plant obtains moisture and nutrition not from soil but air through leaves that contain tiny scales called trichomes. Trichomes are microscopic hair-like structures that reflect intense sunlight away from a leaf’s surface, which gives the plant its familiar gray color and also enables the plant to retain water for long time periods. When growing a Tillandsia, remember to take into consideration whether your plant is the thick-leafed variety that grows in drought-prone areas or the thinner-leafed variety found in tropical locations with plenty of humidity.

This particular epiphyte was named Tillandsia by Carolus Linnaeus after Dr. Elias Tillandz (originally Tillander), who was a Swedish botanist and physician (1640-1693). The aerial lifestyle of the Tillandsia certainly caught the attention of the scientific community. Research indicates that an ingredient of the plant is used as an herbal supplement for treating pollen allergies, and that in 2002 the Tillandsia was used for biomonitoring of air pollution in Florence, Italy because of its trichomes’ ability “to catch aerosols and the particles dispersed in the air.”

Moisture and light

A Tillandsia can be a tad finicky about its bath, preferring morning to evening and weekly to daily. The reason to avoid nighttime soaks is the plant’s nightly preoccupation with transpiration and vaporization, opening their stomata to exchange gas and oxygen. In other words, if an air plant is wet, it can’t breathe.

Here’s what to do: Once a week submerge the plant in water for approximately two hours. A clean glass bowl is preferable. Add room-temperature water. Place the plant upside down with the roots sticking up out of the water. When the soak time is complete, shake off as much moisture as possible. Next, rest your Tillandsia with its roots in the air on a clean cotton towel until dry, approximately two to three hours. Notice the leaves are no longer gray but green. Reposition the plant in its holder.

Do not use distilled water or softened water. Filtered water, bottled drinking water, rain water, or water from a pond or aquarium are preferred. If you want to use tap water, allow the water to sit overnight to dissipate the chlorine. And don’t forget to provide your tropical thin-leaf Tillandsia with more moisture than the drought tolerant variety with thick leaves.

Air plants favor bright filtered light with an optimum temperature between 50-90 degrees. Avoid full sun or placement close to a sunny window as the Tillandsia will not survive next to unshaded glass in an overheated room. For further information on lighting, including the use of incandescent grow lights and high-pressure sodium lamps,
log ontohttp://www.airplantcity.com http://www.airplantcity.com/care.htm

Parent plant and pups

Tillandsia bloom when mature, which takes from three to five years. Before the flowering phase, the leaf color in some species changes from green to pinkish-red. Unfortunately, air plants are monocarpic, meaning they flowers once in lifetime and then die. Flowers last from a week to months depending upon the species.

Two months after the flowers shrivel up, pups start to grow around the base of the parent plant. Pups are new plants that can be twisted free when they are a third to half the size of the parent or left to clump together until all the leaves of the mother plant dry up, die back and are removed. Do not toss out the parent before she produces all her pups.

In the meantime, if you’re fortunate enough to view the brilliant day-glo color shades of a Tillandsia bloom and be blessed with a new generation of pups, start thinking about friends’ birthdays and holiday gift-giving. An air plant peeking out of a small simple seashell is an appreciated gift and a welcomed houseplant that really does “almost” take care of itself.

Launa Herrmann is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.

Launa Herrmann

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Brasher new president, CEO of Jelly Belly

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

    Rio Vista singer ready for Rancho Cordova show

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Everyday life inspires model’s music

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

    Hosting gig for comic, birthday party on weekend schedule

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
     
    Spring Fling set to return to Rancho Solano

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Kids fishing day events return

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
     
    Fairfield police log: March 25, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Suisun police log: March 25, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    .

    US / World

    Lawyers dispute hoax claim, boyfriend says he was drugged

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Co-pilot believed to have purposefully crashed plane

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    L.A. river revamp to cost double previous projections

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Governor awaits $1B drought relief bill

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    US drops graphic leaflet to possible Islamic State recruits

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    AP Exclusive: Special ops troops using flawed intel software

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    State to alter ban on where sex offenders can live

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Grateful Oklahomans salvage belongings after killer storm

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Fact Check: Myths in the political roar over Common Core

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    US: Chicago-area cousins planned US terrorist attack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Report: Teen says mom killed her siblings found in freezer

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    House OKs bipartisan Medicare doctor bill; fate up to Senate

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Talent agency wants Matt McConaughey speaking fee secret

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    US Thunderbolt II attack planes on training in Poland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Syrian government shells kill 18 in south, activists say

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Turmoil in Yemen escalates as Saudi Arabia bombs rebels

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Russian, American ready for a year in space

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Tunisians assure Star Wars sets safe from Islamic State

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: March 27, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: March 27, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: March 27, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    Parents may be enabling son’s drinking and hurting his employment chances

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    Week in preview March 27 to April 3, 2015

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    ‘Downton Abbey’ to end after upcoming 6th season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    With ‘Downton Abbey’s coming demise, here are 5 past deaths

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Ken Burns unravels the mysteries of cancer in PBS film

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Review: Animated alien adventure ‘Home’ lands with a thud

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Entertainment Calendar: March 27, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

     
    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Sports

    Prep swimming preview: City teams look to make big splash

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    Marleau, Niemi lead Sharks past Red Wings 6-4

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

    Warriors can match franchise record for wins at Memphis

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    San Diego city, county join forces on bid to keep NFL

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Labor, developers reach deal on proposed Inglewood stadium

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Italians will pull out of America’s Cup if boats downsized

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Fiancee of Aaron Hernandez to be called to testify Friday

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Stanford’s VanDerveer, Notre Dame’s McGraw to face off

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Former Germany coach Berti Vogts joins Klinsmann’s US staff

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Officials OK demolishing Irwindale Speedway for outlet mall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Signups for Friday, March 27, 2015

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B8

     
    Sharks sign 2 college players

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Top-seeded Wisconsin hangs to beat North Carolina 79-72

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    49ers waive OL Jonathan Martin after 1 season with team

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Notre Dame races by Wichita State 81-70 for Elite Eight spot

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Kentucky overwhelms West Virginia 78-39 in NCAA Sweet 16

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    This date in sports history for March 27, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

     
    Mirim Lee leads LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

     
    Charley Hoffman takes PGA lead in wind-swept Texas Open

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    .

    Business

    Range Rover offers an exclusivity that’s rich with irony

    By The Washington Post | From Page: C1

     
    Google’s new CFO gets $70M for defecting from Morgan Stanley

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Bankruptcy hearing could decide fate of RadioShack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

     
    Microsoft wants US suppliers to give employees paid time off

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Lawmakers unhappy with new fracking rules

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

     
    Authorities go after crooked car deals in national crackdown

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Oil prices jump almost 5 percent as tensions mount in Yemen

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

     
    New Samsung, HTC phones coming April 10 in US

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9