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).
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.
Attention all small-space, bedless green fingers! Here’s your chance to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, and foliage without a garden. Take your passion to the walls and grow your heart out with these nifty vertical gardening ideas. Bring your patio to life, suspend your edibles, dare to go soil-less, and have some fun with hanging baskets.
A bare patio or balcony wall is prime location to begin your first vertical gardening project. You’ll need a drill and screws to secure pots against the wall in your desired shape/layout. Try an elegant symmetrical grid style, leaving a pot-width space between each container (4 pots across by 4 pots down is a good start). You can also experiment with circle pot arrangements, horizontal lines, or a diagonal pattern with cascading creepers in the top pots.
Plant picks: 'Compact Royal Jewels' Lobelia for a flowering spiller, English Ivy for dramatic trails of leaves, and 'Versa Green Halo' Coleus for an exotic-looking mound.
Dare to be different with an intriguing water-based, soil-less garden. Hydroponic planting gives you complete control of the environment, minimises pests, boosts plant growth, saves water, eliminates weeds, AND gives you eye-catching, living décor. There are a variety of hydroponic growing kits available, not only for vertical growing. Consult your garden centre advisor for different installation options and nutrient formulas.
Plant picks: Almost all herbs, leafy veggies such as celery and lettuce, fruits such as Key limes and avocados, and indoor ornamentals such as Philodendron, Peace Lily, Chinese Evergreen, and Spider Plant.
Hanging baskets are ideal space-savers that add texture and life to baren corners, on the patio or indoors. Use a chain to hang containers from the roof (climbing plants will play up the chain and spill over the edges), or try half baskets attached to the wall with an added trellis behind them for trailing plants.