Air plant is a common name for a variety of tillandsia tropical and subtropical flowering plants. They have this nickname because they do not grow in soil and do not depend on their roots to absorb nutrients. Air plants absorb water and nutrients through their leaves and commonly grow on other plants or on rock surfaces. They are slow growing. Starting them from seed takes several years to maturity.
Things You'll Need
- Glass jar with lid
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Dishwashing liquid
- Seedling tray with glass lid
- Peat moss
- Benlate fungicide
- Spray bottle
- Long stick
- Aliphatic glue
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Fill a large bowl with a solution of half water and half bleach. Soak a glass jar and its lid in the solution for 30 minutes, and then rinse it off in clean water.
Pour 1 cup of water into the sterilized glass jar and stir in 1 tsp. of sugar until the sugar dissolves. Squeeze in one drop of dishwashing detergent. Add your seeds to the solution and soak them for 24 hours.
Pour the sugar water out of the glass jar and pour in the bleach and water solution until you cover the seeds. Soaking the seeds for 10 minutes sterilizes them.
Fill the bottom of the starting tray with peat moss, spreading it out in an even layer. Mix a benlate fungicide solution according to the package directions and pour it into a spray bottle. Mist the peat moss with the fungicide until it is damp all the way through.
Sprinkle your air plant seeds over the peat moss layer so they do not touch. Mist the seeds with the fungicide to rinse off the bleach. Close the seed tray lid and place the tray in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. The spot should also maintain a temperature of at least 70 degrees.
Fill a tub or soaking tray with water whenever the peat moss begins drying out. Lower the seed tray into the water and let the peat moss soak up water until it is damp on the surface. Replace the tray in its bright, warm spot. Repeat this as necessary until the seedlings are at least 1 inch tall and form 1 to 3 leaves. This takes 2 to 4 years.
Open the glass tray lid once the seedlings sprout leaves and leave it open for increasing increments of time, starting with one day and working up to two weeks. Once you reach the two-week mark, remove the lid entirely. Mist the seedlings with water from a spray bottle whenever they look dry.
Separate the seedlings by carefully pulling apart the peat moss, so you do not disturb any root formation. Apply a dot of water-resistant aliphatic glue to the base of the plant and press it into your growing mount. This can be a long stick, a rock or any other nonsoil surface.
Place the growing mount in a bright, warm spot out of direct sunlight. Mist the leaves of the plants with water whenever the feel soft and dry.