Ethereal air plants   Sassy, soilless gardening

Airplants, tillandsia, trichomes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
Airplants, tillandsia, trichomes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil

With a motto like 'freedom to create', In2plants is a wonderland of endless imagination. Their exquisite collection of air plants is enough to make any gardener rethink the way they see soilless growing. Their Garden Centre offers exclusivity and a one-on-one shopping experience – you’ll have to make an appointment before visiting. Alternatively, you can shop online via their website and they will deliver your new collector’s item to anywhere in South Africa. Below is everything you need to know about growing ethereal, exotic air plants.

November’s topic: Soilless, sassy gardening
Theme: Ethereal air plants   
Industry Experts: Gerrit and Marinda Snyman 
Garden Centre: In2plants based in Wonderboom, Pretoria https://www.in2plants.co.za/ 

1. Exploring your website is so much fun! Please tell us about your journey with air plants and what drew you to this mysterious Tillandsia genus.   

Our passion for these plants started about 18 years ago. Tradition in our house is that you never buy your spouse flowers; it will be either a rock, piece of wood or a plant. Gerrit travelled a lot locally for work purposes and therefore had ample opportunities to obtain plants. Coming back from holiday, the car would always be overloaded with plants, even on my lap if needed. We started off with orchids and staghorn ferns until we got hooked on Tillandsia. 

Our first Tillandsia came from Nelspruit 18 years ago - Tillandsia seleriana. We beagn with this one as a companion plant for our other plants. This plant did not require any soil or roots, which fascinated us as this was in contradiction to growing many other different plants. Tillandsia air plants are epiphytes and can be mounted on wood or any other suitable material. Perfect! Now we could use all our pieces of beautiful wood collected.  

Using little space and giving lots of opportunities to grow vertically, we suddenly had more space to fill, which was super exciting.

Sassy, soilless gardening Botanical Boss

Hydoponics, hydroponic growing, vertical growing, vertical farming, gardening, life is a garden, greenery, fruits, vegetables, water, soilless, tank
Hydoponics, hydroponic growing, vertical growing, vertical farming, gardening, life is a garden, greenery, fruits, vegetables, water, soilless, tank

Air plants and hydroponic growing haven opened a world of creative gardening potential, full of attitude, expression, and Earth-consciousness. If traditional gardening doesn’t perk up your green fingers, outlandish air plants and woo-girl hydroponics will do it. Life is a Garden’s industry experts have shared valuable insights to help you successfully embark on a soilless adventure this summer.  

Outlandish air plants  

The Tillandsia genus (air plants) are epiphytes, meaning they grow without soil and instead, use other plants (non-parasitically) or suitable objects to grow on (like a gorgeous piece of driftwood). They are a truly fascinating species to add to your patio collection. Try these statement-making, exotic treats:  

  • T. Mali Dofitas: Originally from the Philippines, this perennial evergreen will love a dappled sun to semi-shade location. Their spidery, upright rosettes of thick red-green leaves will stay vibrant even when not in bloom.  

  

  • T. Tectorum, Peru: Native to the Andes mountain of Ecuador and Peru, this large beauty can handle full sun with excellent air circulation. Their striking leaves are covered in gorgeous long, white, velvety trichomes.  

  

  • T. Love Knot: This charming hybrid enjoys good natural light with no direct sun. Their soft-curving leaves show off a dramatic colour scheme of reds, greens, and yellows. Purple flowers are a sensation when in bloom!  

Did you know? Tillandsia use their roots for anchoring and absorb water and nutrients through their trichomes (leaves).  

Airplants, tillandsia, trichomes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil, hydroponics, water, vertical, botanical boss
Airplants, tillandsia, trichomes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil, hydroponics, water, vertical, botanical boss
Airplants, tillandsia, trichomes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil, hydroponics, water, vertical, botanical boss
Airplants, tillandsia, trichomes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil, hydroponics, water, vertical, botanical boss

Tillandsia hits and misses  

A winning recipe for success begins with bright light, good air circulation, and ample nutrients. Once you have these three in check, consider the following top air plant tips.  

  • Sun: Morning filtered sun is your best bet although some varieties can tolerate more sun depending on the species.  
  • Fertilise: Ask your GCA Garden Centre assistant for product advice and fertilise your air plants every second week. 
  • Watering: Use rain or spring water when spraying or submerging plants (check your particular plant’s needs) and avoid tap water that has damaging chemicals.

Air plant spiral DIY

omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil

Air plants are part of the fascinating Tillandsia genus that grow without soil. There are over 500 enchanting species that really showcase the weird and wonderful creations of Mother Nature. Add a sassy spark to the patio with Life is a Garden’s air plant spiral. 

Fun fact: The closest cousin of the air plant is the pineapple bush! Also, this genus is non-toxic to pets and children.  

Did you know? Air plants are Epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants and natural objects (non-parasitically). They are found all over the world and often in the oddest, most unlikely places. 

  

To make an air plant spiral you will need: 

  • A stunning air plant (available at a GCA Garden Centre) 
  • A beautiful river stone  
  • Pliers  
  • Galvanised soft wire (not copper as it is toxic to air plants)  
  • A flat surface to work on  
omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil

 How to: 

  • Spray your air plant with purified water and set aside to drip dry  
  • Depending on the size of the plant, estimate how much wire you would need. For our small air plant, we used just over a metre of wire.  
  • Cut the wire using the pliers (big brothers or sisters may need to help out). 
omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
  • Wrap the wire around the stone and secure with a looped knot.  
  • Next comes the fun part! Spiral the end of your wire so that it will cradle your air plant gently. This may take some re-bending and sizing to get a good fit. Take care not to damage the air plant foliage during the process and this may stress the plant.  
omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
omes, November, garden, air, soilless, Greenery, life is a garden, decor, hanging, staghorn, butzii, colour, soil
  • Depending on the age of the green fingers at play, you could get really creative and big with your spirals. We chose a rather simple design to allow our little lady to really do it all herself.   
  • Your DIY living décor is now ready to be enjoyed as inspiring table, wall, or centrepiece décor. 

 

This group of plants called epiphytes, seem to hail from another planet. Using their roots as anchors only, they come in an array of shapes and colours. Needing very little to no soil, Tillandsias and orchids can become great house mates under the right conditions. If these adorable, supernatural plants have piqued your interest, tune into this Masterclass where we look at varieties, how to display them and take care of them.