You’ve seen them before. They’re most notably found in a small globes or attached to a piece of driftwood. Tillandsias, better known as air plants, are not new, but they seem to be everywhere lately. From restaurants to hotel lobbies to museum art installations, these versatile plants may be the perfect solution for those looking for low maintenance, highly resistant accessories to liven-up your small space.
As their name implies, air plants don’t need soil to survive. But low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance. These plants do need your attention. “A lot of people think these plants don’t need any care at all ... they do,” said Chris Davis, owner of Davis Farms, a wholesale Tillandsias grower in Encinitas. The former wildlife biologist is passionate about the little plants. “It’s a plant like any other,” he said.” A lot of people think all they need is air. No, they need water, they need light.”
Unlike “normal” plants, Tillandsias absorb water through their leaves, not their roots. An occasional soaking or misting is needed to survive. They also need indirect sunlight. Davis suggests keeping them within three to six feet of a window.
So how often should you water? Well it depends. “If you live close to the coast ... you may need to water them 2-3 times a week,” said Davis. People living in warmer, inland communities may need to water a little more often.
Where to buy?
Davis sells his plants wholesale, his website requires a minimum purchase of $100. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a few of his plants around town. He supplies many local business with his stock. Trendy shops like North Park’s Pigment and Encinitas’ Grounded offer his plants. Ocean Beach’s Teeter and City Heights’ City Farmers Nursery are also among his local customers. Expect to pay $5 and up for a single plant.
Here’s where things can get interesting. A quick search on Pinterest really shows the plant’s versatility. From an entire wall of plants to individual examples suspended from fishing line, the plants can be displayed in a many different ways. One pinner even had a plant hanging upside-down from an old bottle of Jameson. But if Irish whiskey isn’t your thing, there are plenty of examples of these little plants growing from wine corks.
“They’re really adaptable plants,” said Davis.
You can find Davis Farms at wholesaletillandsias.com