Page 58 - May2017

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Epiphytes on Display
Since epiphytes are not planted in the ground or in pots,
they offer great design flexibility and can be moved around
at will. Methods of display could include the following
Epiphytes will perform well in a small saucer or decorative
vase filled with teeny rocks and water. Place the plant on
the rocks but not in the water. Try the same technique using
a large conch shell or several large shells each with its own
plant for a tabletop display. The addition of a little moss will
provide some interest and depth.
Some type of mount for support
is another method of display. Affix
the plant to a wooden board, cork,
or driftwood with wire or fishing
line woven through the leaves and
around the base. Attach a hanger
to the back and hang on a fence
out of doors or place in moderate
light in a bathroom where they can
absorb water from the steam of
the shower or bath
Place a small amount of hot glue
to a vine wreath and to several air
plants for an interesting twist on
traditional wreath presentation.
Tuck into branches or trunks
of trees.
Suspend by wires for a living
Tillandsia are pollinated by hummingbirds.
Some species can take up to two years to produce
flower spikes.
The seeds are very tiny and borne on a webbing
much like a dandelion seed.
These plants are most often found on the north
side of the tree host as protection from sun.
Indigenous tribes in the Amazon used epiphytes
in poison dart mixtures as well as in dyes, as
decorations, and for natural remedies.
Facts About Air Plants
hundred species including Spanish moss, orchids, and
ferns (such as the staghorn). Other harmless epiphytes
that are not tree-huggers include mosses and lichens
that can be seen growing on rocks and other inorganic
surfaces. Appropriately, the name “epiphyte” is derived
from the Greek words “epi,” meaning “upon,” and
“phyton,” meaning “plant.”
The leaves take in the minerals, nutrients, and moisture
while the roots are used for attachment. Air plants use
photosynthesis and some leaching from leaf litter and
organic debris that collects on the host plant to produce
nourishment, but they have also developed trichomes
(white fuzzy hairs) that catch moisture and particles from
air and water allowing the plant to feed and hydrate
itself. Air plants breathe in carbon dioxide at night
through stomata on the leaves, then use photosynthesis
during the day turning that carbon dioxide into energy
and sustenance.
To care for epiphytes, water plants during the daytime
hours to avoid disrupting this schedule and do not
overwater. Humid conditions may provide all that is
needed, but misting your air plants can be helpful in
dry weather or when displaying your plants indoors. If
the leaves seem more curled than usual, they may need
watering. These tiny delightful plants are also resistant
to pests and disease. An occasional spritz of liquid orchid
fertilizer will ensure continued growth and vigor.
Coveted not only for their unusual shapes and forms as
well as ease of care, no talent, aptitude, green thumb,
knowledge, or ability with plants is necessary to grow and
enjoy these varieties. Air plants are also quite pleasing
in their array of colors of foliage—silver, green, and
some rusty reds. This fascinating collection of plants is a
pleasure to grow indoors or out in the garden. Think of
them as “garden ornaments.” Place them on tables as an
alternative to potted plants or cut arrangements in your
outside living areas.
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MAY 2017