Thursday, January 31, 2013

Air Plants - Tillandsia

Air Plants, also known as Tillandsia, don’t require soil to grow, only moderate light and a good soak every week—very low-maintenance. Beautiful as modern home decor, in terrariums or as incredibly unique (and affordable!) housewarming or all-occasion gifts. These little guys have so much personality, beautiful blooms, and just fun to look at. 

Tillandsias grow differently than most other plants, so they can be confusing to the beginner. They are really very hardy, and require much less attention than other plants. The following simplifies the instruction but you can scroll down for much more specific information.If you are growing them indoors and the air is dry, you will need (at minimum) to submerge the plant in water for 2-3 hours about every two weeks. Otherwise, in a shade-house or unheated home, you can use a soaking mist once or twice a week in summer, once a month in cooler weather.


    Thoroughly wet your Tillandsia 2-3 times per week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in a cool, humid one. In conditions of extreme drying, and consequent moisture loss, Tillandsia cannot get replacement water from their roots like a terrestrial plant, or draw on internal reserves like a succulent.

    The Water you use is important. NEVER USED DISTILLED WATER! Softened Water is a NO NO for the salt content. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water or RO are all fine. Pond water, aquarium, or rain water are all preferred but tap water is better than no water.

    Outdoors you may never need to water Tillandsias hanging in a tree if you live in a temperate climate with some humidity. Indoors, the hotter and drier the air, the more you need to water.

    Plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in no longer than 4 hours after watering. Wind can be a detriment as the plant dries too quickly. Remember that inside with a window fan as well. If the plant dries within a very short period of time, it is not hydrating at all.

    Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular waterings in dry climates to increase the humidity.

    If the plant is in a shell, be sure to empty the water out. Tillandsias will not survive in standing water.

    Under-watering is evidenced by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf.

    New Information: After wetting your plants thoroughly, turn them upside down and gently shake them. I have found that the water that collects near the base is detrimental if left to long. I have lost many stricta that way.

    One last thing about watering your air plant. It is much better to water in the morning than at night. Air plants absorb the carbon monoide from the air at night instead of the day time. If the plant is wet, it does not breath therefore unless it can dry quickly at night, plan on morning baths.

    Following each watering, Tillandsias should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in 4 hours or less. Do not keep plants constantly wet or moist.
    Do not allow to dry to quickly though. 1-3 hours is optimum

    Optimum temperature range for Tillandsias is 50 - 90 degrees F.
    I have kept my plants outside during 40 degree F. weather but only for a night or two knowing it would be warm during the day. Tillandsia will die with frost.

    Use Bromeliad fertilizer (17-8-22) twice a month. It is GREAT for blooming and reproduction! Other water-soluble fertilizers can be used at 1/4 strength (Rapid Grow, Miracle-Grow, etc.) if Bromeliad fertilizer is not available.
    Note Here: If you use pond water or aquarium water, Don't use fertilizer

    Bromeliad Tillandsia have a life cycle of one plant growing to maturity and blooming. Before, during or after blooming (depending on the species) your plant will start producing young (PUPS), most plants will produce between 2 - 8 pups. Each plant will flower once in its lifetime, remember that each pup is a plant and it will bloom. Flowers can last from several days to many months, depending on the species, and different species bloom at different times depending also on its care and environment. You can expect blooms from mid winter through mid summer depending on the plant.

    If you leave your plant to clump just remove the leaves of the mother plant as she starts to dry up, just pull the leaves out with a gentle sideways tug, if the leaf resists, its not dead yet, so just trim any dried areas instead. Once you've fully removed the mother plant, the gap that's left will quickly be filled in by the other plants growing & spreading.

    To remove the pups, they should be at least 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant. Hold both mother and pup at their bases and gently twist in a downward motion. If this does not happen easily, you may need to remove the pup by cutting downward as close to the mother as possible. Do not discard the mother plant yet, as long as she is still alive she will continue to produce more pups for you. Often taking several years after blooming before she finally dies.

    Tillandsias can be grown basically anywhere, on rocks, in a seashell or on coral, in ceramic or pottery, attached to wood (not pressure treated wood this is impregnated with copper, and copper will kill your plant). When considering what you are going to do with your plant don't forget that you have to be able to water it and it has to be placed somewhere that it will get sufficient light.

    Try not to put Tillandsias in containers that hold water, they need to dry out. If you do place your plant in something that holds water, empty out the excess after watering your plant. The same thing applies when mounting your plant. Do not surround your plant with Moss. It will hold too much water and will rot your plant.

    You can use glue, wire, fishing line, twisty ties, nails or staples. Nails and staples can only be used on plants with a woody stolon or with sufficient roots. DO NOT staple your plant on its fleshy parts as it will kill it. Try to use a waterproof glue such as Liquid Nails or a Hot Glue gun, allowing the glue to cool for 5 seconds. Do not not use superglue or copper wire as these will kill your plant.
Below are pictures of some in my collection

                                                                   My Air Wall

To Do List for Houston Gardeners

February To Do

Planting- Strawberries can be planted now; hanging baskets are an ideal way to grow the berries to avoid fungus and insects attacking the fruit. Tomatoes can be transplanted into pots that can be brought inside for frosts and freezes; later on (after last frost) they can be planted in larger pots or in the ground. Lettuce can be started from seed, for continual harvesting. Set out fresh seeds every 2-3 weeks through the cool season. Bluebonnets are available for transplanting to make a great spring show. It is past the prime time to set out seeds for bluebonnets.

Pests- Keep an eye out for loopers and aphids on cool season vegetables and annuals. Use the most organic solution possible for treating these insects. Check for scale insects on ornamentals such as camellias, hollies, magnolias, and Japanese blueberries. Treat with horticultural oil spray while it is still cool.

Lawns- Apply pre-emergent to stop spring weeds such as crabgrass, goosegrass and dallisgrass before they start. Corn gluten meal is an organic approach, while Barricade is a non-organic approach (both products can be found in our plant care shed).

Birds- Lower purple martin houses , clean and repair as necessary. Re-raise and position for martin scouts. Keep 20 feet away from trees and building for a clear flight pattern. Gold finches are feeding. Hang thistle or nyjer seed socks for these cuties. Keep suet feeders filled for hungry winter bird – their natural food sources are slim right now.

Freezes- Continue to keep an eye on the weather and stay informed on night time lows. Have frost cloth on hand for light frosts. If the temperature drops below 32, double wrap tender plants to ensure proper insulation. Avoid using plastic against foliage, but it can be used as the second exterior layer when covering plants. Remove plastic during the day. TIP: Heavy duty clothespins or spare bricks can be used to secure and weight down cloths.

Beds- Prune back perennials that are overgrown or have frost damage. This allows for a fresh spring start. Wait to cut back tropical plants until after the last frost, this includes hibiscus and bougainvilleas. Add in green annuals for spring color in the form of poppies, larkspur, hollyhocks, and delphiniums.

Pruning- Most shrubs, trees, and roses can be pruned now. Wait until after spring bloom cycles to prune spirea, azaleas, redbuds, and oriental magnolias.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Top 5 Vines

My top vines I will always have in my yard for their beauty and the way they bring butterflies and hummingbird's into the yard.

1. Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica) - It's heat and drought resistant, blooms all
    summer and fall and has incredibly fragrant blooms of white, pink and red.

2. Queens Wreath - Also known as Sandpaper Vine, for its very rough leaves. Though the
     vine is a very good one it's the show of blooms that will stop people in their tracts. This
     plant will take the drought once it is established a very hardy plant.

3. Red Bleeding Heart - Actually I love all the bleeding heart vines once they take root
    they are there to stay. Mine will freeze back when it gets in the 20's but shows itself
    once it starts getting warm again.

4. Morning Glories - What can you say about these beauties, but WOW. So many different
    kinds waiting to please your eye. I have seeds for about 20 different kind I am planning
    on planting all of them along a chain link fence hoping to have a quilt like appearance.

5. Crossvine - Strong vine, fast grower and loads and loads of beautiful flowers a show
     stopper. Produces a huge mass of 2" orange trumpets with yellow throats in late spring
     with some blooms throughout summer. An easily grown and vigorous clinging native
     evergreen vine that can easily grow up masonary, tree bark, or other structures without
     support. The picture is of  Tangerine Beauty.

There are so many vines out there to try. I try to introduce at least 1 new one every year. Some don't make the heat may not be their fault could be mine for not planting it in the right place. If I don't care for it after a year it is dug up and given to a new home.

Monday, January 28, 2013

WELL STARTED CLEANING OUT BEDS THIS PAST WEEKEND!!! Planted some hollyhocks and cone flowers. Hopefully there won't be a freeze anytime soon. One of my favorite shrubs is Mexican Bird of Paradise. Here are some pictures of that beautiful plant.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 2013

Here are some pictures of the garden and plants I grew this past season.

                                                       Best vine the Ragon Creeper

                                                               Red Crape Myrtle

                                                                       Back Patio

                                                                           Antiqe Rose


                                                                   Seedling Daylily

                                                                      Seedling Daylily

                                                                        Tiger Lily

                                                             Succulent Collection

                                                              Mexican Sunflower

                                                                   Air Plant Wall

                                                            Mom enjoying the yard

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today Jan 24, 2013

The high today is suppose to be in the mid 70's strange type of winter we are having. Think I will set seeds out for hollyhocks this weekend. Might go ahead and start peppers, some vines and start some desert roses. I am excited about these new desert rose seeds they are suppose to produce doubles and even triple blooms. Also some have been crossed with a variegated form of the plant.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I'mmmmmm Back!!

 Spice pretending to smell the flowers but is really spying on Harley.
My back patio this past year.

OK it's been over a year since I posted in here. Life to busy? mmmm Nope I just forgot that I had a blog guess it's an age thing. lol I am going to attempt to keep this going now. With things in the garden, my dogs, favorite recipes, fun crafts, pictures, pictures and whatever else pops up. There has already been changes to the yard already. We had all the fruit trees transferred to my sisters business. I kept the lemon tree and 2 fig trees. Plans for this year will be a plumeria bed, an angel trumpet bed, and a pond.

Today it was such a foggy morning I could hardly see the house across the street and driving to work in it you become VERY religious. LOL