Binomial name: Tillandsia ionantha
Characteristics: Tillandsia ionantha are called “air plants” because in nature they live suspended on branches or even electric wires, without soil, apparently living only on air.
Air plant is epiphytic, meaning that it lives by absorbing water and nutrients through its leaves, rather than from soil.
Seeds per packet: 10 x seeds
Description: Tillandsias need moisture, light, and good air circulation for germination and survival. Seeds can be sown throughout the year indoors in a mini glasshouse. Because good air flow is necessary for growth, we recommend making small holes in the lid of the mini glasshouse- it's important to conserve humidity but also allow airflow.
Planting medium: Any airy substrate, ie: sphagnum peat moss, pantyhose, or tree fern fibre.
Optimum germination temperature: 20-25°C.
- Soak seeds in warm water, in a plastic container for around 14 days (some might take up to 3-4 weeks to germinate). Have the lid on, but make sure to have holes in the lid. Open the lid every few days to allow air exchange. Don’t keep seeds in water for more than 4 weeks. Hopefully you will see green nubbins by this time, so take them out, and move them to a planting medium.
- One of the big challenges with air plant seeds is that you need to separate them, and it is hard to do. Lay your seeds on the table, preferably on the dark background, so you can see all the seeds properly.
- Seeds will be on the bottom of the fluffy coma or 'parachute' part, with the coma being the top part. Take a close look and separate all the seeds – use a magnifying glass and tweezers if necessary.
- The next step after around 2 weeks would be to place seeds on a growing medium to continue their growth. A substrate that you pick should hold moisture, but not become too soggy. We suggest using sphagnum peat moss, or nylon pantyhose.
- When laying seeds, make sure to allow as much space between seeds as possible. This will help you avoid needing to separate them while they are fragile. Spread the seeds thinly on the substrate so that you can see individual seeds instead of clumps. Seeds must be sown on the surface and be exposed to light.
- You must always avoid soggy conditions that will quickly kill your seedlings. While they do need higher humidity, be careful if using moss. It can be easy for it to start growing mold if you overwater. Keep spraying lightly, but often. The next step would be to wait. Seeds will take time to become small seedlings. Make sure that the substrate is rather wet, but not soggy. Let it dry a little before misting again. You must prevent soggy conditions, which can lead to algae growth, killing your seedlings.
- Make sure to also allow proper air exchange. If you are doing everything correctly, you should see small seedlings after a month or two. Be patient – the further growth will take a long time. Growth will be slow for the first 1-2 years, but then should speed up.
- Your air plants at this point will also need bright indirect light to grow. Make sure to place seeds in a bright (not direct sun) place, providing right humidity and air exchange (don’t keep them in an enclosed container or similar).
- If at any point you see your substrate turning grey, molding or similar, use tweezers and move your air plants quickly to a new clean surface. Review your watering (could be due to over watering), and make sure there’s proper air exchange.