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What Are Air Plants?

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Exotic air plants can grow indoors mounted to pieces of wood, in glass jars or in other containers. With thick, silvery foliage or vivid flowers, air plants make a striking addition to your indoor garden. They need little care apart from regular misting. Find air plants at specialty garden stores, or order them online.


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While air plants may be grown as houseplants, they also occur outside naturally. Air plants -- also called epiphytes -- grow in humid, hot climates like that of the southern United States and rainforest areas. Spanish moss and ball moss are two common air plants that live in live oak or cypress trees. Air plants grow in all types of trees, and may be found along the branches, trunk or leaves.


In nature, air plants grow with their roots in the air, not in water or soil. They absorb water through the heavy air in their host climates. By misting indoor air plants or soaking them in water, you provide the same effect. These plants provide homes for insects. For example, bromeliads collect water in a central leaf basin, which can shelter frogs or lizards. Flowering varieties also produce nectar that feed hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.


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Types of air plants include orchids, bromeliads, tillandsia like Spanish and ball moss, tropical cacti and other plants. Some air plants have exotic, attractive flowers while others are grown primarily for their foliage.


Outdoor air plants get all they need from nature. When growing epiphytes indoors, however, you'll need to provide all care. Mist the plants every couple of days, or try them in naturally humid environments such as bathrooms. Soaking the plant in water for one hour every week gives them adequate hydration. Air plants with soft green leaves need part shade, while those with firm silver leaves enjoy bright, filtered sun.

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