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How much should you water your Air Plant?

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Mesic and Xeric – sound like something from another world! These are the Greek words used to describe the amount of water found in a natural habitat.Mesic, derives from the Greek word for middle and describes a moderate or well balanced supply of moisture in the environment whereas Xeric, originating from the Greek word, “xerox” meaning dry, relates to an extremely dry habitat.

Mesic and Xeric Tillandsia have different watering requirements, so it is important to understand the difference between the varying types and to know what category your air plant falls under.

Let’s first talk about Mesic air plants. These plants originate from the tropical rainforests of Central America that receives average amounts of rainfall and humidity throughout the year, which means that they need more frequent watering. These varieties have smooth, green leaves and less defined trichomes.

What are trichomes I hear you ask! Trichomes can be described like the pores on our skin. They are tiny hairs or scales on the plants leaves that are used to absorb water and nutrients from the plant’s surroundings. Different species have different shaped and sized trichomes; adjusted to their environment. This is what gives some Tillandsia the appearance of being quite ‘fuzzy’ or ‘fluffy’. The trichomes also assist the plants with sun protection.

Xeric Tillandsia are more easily distinguished as these are the varieties that have the white or greyish ‘fuzz’ or more pronounced trichomes on their leaves. These plants originate from very dry or desert environments and so have adapted to be able to survive with less water than the mesic varieties. Their trichomes reflect the sun allowing them to withstand their harsh natural environment. They often are quite bulbous, allowing them to retain large amounts of water.

Be mindful that mesic varieties also prefer more shaded positions and xeric varieties prefer an environment with lots of light, similar to their native rainforest or desert environments.


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