How long do air plants live? This article will answer all your questions and will guide you on how to extend their life to the full potential!
Air plants are some of the most remarkable epiphytes you will find in most modern homes today. Scientifically referred to as Tillandsia, their narrow leaves and high resilience characterize these tropical plants.
The plants are closely related to the pineapple, as they both belong to the family of Bromeliaceae. Air plants are aptly named – they require air as opposed to the soil to grow and flourish.
Apart from air and water, these plants also depend on other plants for support. In this post, we shall try to uncover the duration air plants live, so read on to find out.
How Long Do Air Plants Live?
Air plants bloom once in their lifetime, the blooming of air plant is the peak time of its life. The flowers of air plants can last for several months, depending on the species. After flowers fade, air plants start to die slowly. But before they die, the mother plant produces pups to continue the same cycle. The pups can be divided from the mother plant and grown individually.
The lifespan of an air plant can range from a few months to a couple of years. It all comes down to how you nourish your plant and the species.
Some Interesting Facts About Air Plants
1. Air plants have no roots.
Tillandsia has no developed root system. Instead, they attach themselves on other trees, fences, woods, rocks, or any other structures such as telephone wires.
However, it is essential to remember that air plants are epiphytes and not saprophytes or parasites. This means apart from support needs, and they do not compete for mineral salts with the trees onto which they attach themselves.
2. They are remarkably beautiful.
You can get air plants in either silver or green colors. And it gets better when they bloom. At full bloom, they turn fiery red, with other parts retaining their original green and silvery color, thereby creating a seamless contrasting sight.
3. There are many species.
Another remarkable thing about air plants is that there are over 550 species for you to choose. Being a tropical plant, you will mainly find them in the mountainous and rain forest environments of the Central and South America. However, they are also available in some deserts.
4. How do they thrive?
The fact that they do not have a root system underneath the soil does not mean they are rootless plants. Mostly, these plants contain aerial roots through which they take in air.
For them to thrive, they require an ideal temperature and humidity. When keeping them indoors, ensure the conditions are well-lit as well as well-ventilated.
What Determines How Long Do Air Plants Live
As we have already mentioned, most air plants will die off immediately after blossoming. When air plants are about to die, they will typically exhibit one or more of the following signs;
Their leaves will soften and develop lighter shades of color, a clear indication that they are deprived of water.
The leaves can also be drenched in too much water. When this happens, the leaves feel a bit harder.
Wrinkling, rolling and drying up of the leaves are also signs of dying air plants.
How to Increase Life of Air Plants
To enhance the life of your air plants, there are a few growing techniques you can apply. The following are some of them.
When it comes to watering, there are two significant aspects to consider; how to water the plants and in what frequency. The right watering plays a big role in how long do air plants live.
The good news here is that air plants can live for a reasonably long duration without water. However, keeping them adequately, hydrated will go a long way in increasing their life span.
The best way to water these plants is to rinse them under a pool of running water or soak them for a period of between 1 to 4 hours. If you are not in a hurry, you can dunk the plants in water and allow them to sit overnight. They will take in just enough water through their leaves. To ensure they are thoroughly watered, get a container or large bowl, and keep them submerged. Of course, the flowers should not be submerged as they will take in water and become too flaccid. After soaking them enough hours, shake them gently to get rid of any excess water on their leaves of the base.
When it comes to frequency, once every week is ideal. You can always increase this to 3 times per week for optimal care. Though you may often soak them in water for just a couple of minutes, experts recommend a full submersion of up to 2 hours or longer for a period of every 2 to 3 weeks.
The frequency and amount of watering will depend on the current temperature and humidity conditions. Also, remember to use distilled water as opposed to tap water. You do not want to subject the plant to any potentially harmful mineral salts.
To aid photosynthesis, you will need to place your air plants in places where they can access bright and direct sunlight. The morning sun is especially recommended. However, avoid keeping your air plants in direct sunlight past midday, as they could bake in the sun and lose much water.
But if there is insufficient sunlight, you can always improvise with incandescent bulbs or LED grow lights. If keeping them indoors, select a spot near the window from where they can receive maximum sunlight.
Temperature and Humid Conditions
Generally, air plants require warm conditions with a temperature range of between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in frost-free environments, the plants will do fine outdoor all year round.
If your indoor conditions are below the above temperature range, you can always take your plants to the patio or balcony so they can warm up a bit. Generally, try to keep the conditions moist and humid.
Air plants produce pups as they grow. You can either choose to leave these pups to clump onto the mother plants or pull them out.
However, removing these pups will increase the lifespan of the mother plant by a couple more years. In addition to removing the pups, you should also trim off any dried and withered leaves.
Like any other plants, air plants need nourishment through fertilizer. Experts recommend using bromeliad fertilizers, for the simple reason these plants also belong to the bromeliad family. Also, the fertilizer must be water-soluble.
You dissolve your fertilizer in water and then apply it on your plants during the regular watering session. It is important to only apply fertilizer during the same time you are watering your plants. This will save you time as the plants absorb water and mineral salts at the same time. It also ensures you do not overly hydrate them.
Again, How Long Do Air Plants Live?
Generally, air plants grow at a very slow pace. During their maturation, they blossom and die off. Their pups then replace the dying plants, to repeat the same cycle.