Air Plants Are Great For Decor and Easy Maintenance

air-plants-interiorBesides being easy to grow, air plants lend themselves well to indoor or outdoor decor, and can be moved without any fuss. Air plants, or tillandsia, are epiphytes, which means that in nature they grow on other plants. Fortunately they are not parasitic, so have no worries about placing your air plant onto some other plant. Air plants use their roots only as anchors, taking in water and nutrients through their leaves.

On the other hand, other plants are not the only place where air plants can put down their roots. Clear plastic hanging containers are a popular place for air plants. They give any room a light, natural look and can be moved when you feel like changing the decor. Such containers are available in teardrop or spherical shapes, and a group of them makes an interesting statement. Try differently shaped hung at different lengths with different species of air plants for variety.

A terrarium offers a good place to make an arrangement of air plants. Fill your terrarium with sand for a natural look . Add some pretty rocks and place your air plants onto the tops and sides of your rocks to make a little world where you can take a micro vacation meditating. Be sure that your terrarium has some open places where air can circulate. Do not use soil or any other medium that will hold in water.

air plants 2

Make modern art with the use of opaque vases or clay pots. Fill your vase or pot with styrofoam and insert a wire vertically through the center so that it sticks up. Twist the top of the wire gently around the bottom of an air plant. Leave at least an inch of wire between the container and your plant. Cover the styrofoam with gravel, moss, or acrylics. Your plant will appear to float above the container.

Or construct a living wreath for all seasons. Start with a basic wreath made of grape vine, straw, or man made material. Gently wire your air plants all around. Use other natural materials such as seeds, shells, or dried flowers to give your wreath more interest and texture. You can decorate it throughout the year with colored ribbons or raffia for varying seasons and holidays. In the spring glue on brightly-colored Easter eggs. For Fourth of July use red, white, and blue bows. In the fall wire or glue on either freshly- fallen leaves or permanent botanical leaves in autumnal colors. For the look of a country cottage use burlap ribbon. For a more urbane look use simple smooth or metallic ribbon.

If you have an epiphytic orchid mounted on driftwood or some other attractive wood, air plants look nice beside it and are compatible because both thrive under the same conditions. If you use wood be careful not to get it too wet and cause it to rot. Any non-copper surface is fine, so be creative. Make an air plant mobile using coat hangers, steel wires, or fishing line and glue your air plants onto it. You can use artificial nail glue, hot glue, Goop, or whatever is available at your favorite crafts store.

Which brings us to environment. Air plants do well in 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or about room temperature. They can do nicely outside in a mild climate or do well as house plants for home or office.

Even air plants need watering, which should be done 2 to 3 times per week. Either allow them to float for 20 to 30 minutes in a water bath or use a mister. If you use the former method, do not allow the flowers to submerge as they are delicate and can break. After their bath put your plants onto a flat surface where they will dry in about 4 hours. Air plants can live in a bathroom but still need to be watered because the water vapor from a shower only lasts in the air a short time.

Air plants are related to bromeliads, so bromeliad fertilizer can be added to your mister or water bath about once a month during the plants’ growing season, from spring through fall. If bromeliad fertilizer is unavailable, a commercial fertilizer such as Miracle Grow can be used at ¼ strength. While fertilizer is not strictly necessary it will help your air plants to grow and bloom.

Air plants need bright but indirect sunlight, so plant near a window that gets some sun but where your plants will not be burned by direct exposure. Fluorescent bulbs are also good.

Air plants occasionally need grooming just as other plants do. When a leaf or root dries out or becomes brown, gently remove it with a pair of manicure scissors, cutting on a slant for a natural esthetic look.

Air plants reproduce by two methods, by seeds and pups. Flowers produce the tiny seeds, which are usually contained in a small pod that dries and turns beige when fully ripe. Pups are smaller plants produced next to the mother plants. They can be removed and replanted elsewhere when they are about one third the size of the mother plant.

Growing air plants from seed is not difficult, but it does require patience, as the seedlngs take 2 to 3 years to show enough growth to transplant. A fine plastic mesh or a nylon stocking stretched over a frame will provide a good platform for your seeds. Place your air plant frame in a place where it will get indirect sunlight as well as circulating air. Mist your seeds every day but watch for water droplets that do not evaporate. Even a small amount of standing water will encourage algal growth that will choke your air plants. Use dilute fertilizer as above every week. When your seedlings are about an inch high it is time to transplant them to your favorite location.

Air plants come in a variety of species, many of which produce colorful flowers. In the section entitled Tillandsia we will describe the types of air plants available and how to arrange them for adding a touch of tropical color to your garden, home, or workplace.

Plants as Wedding Decoration

Think of using something different for your wedding decoration? Potted plants are the way to go. Why? Because one, they’re pretty and pleasing to the eyes. Two, they’re unique, they exude a hippie vibe and they’re a fun alternative to pricey flowers, don’t you think so? Three, they’re inexpensive and practical – they can be used as your wedding decoration and at the same time they can be used as your giveaways. Or keep them in your future garden yourself. Can you think of anything cooler than that? And finally of course, four, but definitely not the least – potted plants are earth-friendly and an awesome way to love the earth by reducing the carbon footprint on your wedding day. Way cooler.

Here are some wonderful ways to sneak in those pretty greens into your big day so you can have a green and earth-loving wedding that people will be raving about long after they have gobbled down that heavenly slice of your green tea wedding cupcake.

Hang ‘Em Up

Hanging Plants

 

Hanging plants are great items to spruce up your wedding venue. They make the room look bigger as they draw the eyes up from the floor to the ceiling. There are a lot of pretty plants that can be grown in the pretty colorful hanging pots. Use the many kinds of houseplants with charming bending leaves – like the ivy or the spider plants or fern. The Boston fern and the bird’s nest fern with its wide beautiful leaves are great choices. Hang them by the altar, or hang them and line them up above the aisle. Hang them by the windows. Or if you’re having an outdoor wedding, hang them by the trees.

Leafy Table Centerpieces

Table Centerpiece

Put your potted plants in fancy containers – like baskets, carved pots, glazed pots, glass jars. Use different kinds of foliage – different colors, different kinds of leaves. Then put them on different heights of pillars or bouquet stands. This will add a touch of interest and warmness in your wedding. To add warmth and color, throw in some simple mums to your plants. Put in some birch branches and twigs to make it look more romantic.

Green Giveaways

Green Giveaways

 

Find cute small pots and put all kinds of cacti or herbs or add some small flowering plants. Put them together in one corner to double as a decoration while waiting to be given away. The cluster of small plants is fun and pretty to look at. To add a festive touch, use pastel-colored glazed pots that match your wedding color scheme. Or if you just want to maintain the rustic feel – just use the regular clay pots.

Bonsai Decorations

Potted Bonsai

 

You can use bonsai trees in different heights and sizes. Everything about the bonsai is beautiful – from the style of the tree to the bonsai pots – its height, its color – the way they are arranged. You can also use potted trees to line the aisle – add ribbons or a string of lights to make it more whimsical and romantic.

Image Sources:

Green Giveaways

http://www.imaginethatwedding.com

Hanging Plants

http://www.shedesignsblog.com

Table Centerpiece

http://www.blog.hwtm.com

Potted Bonsai

http://www.pabbos.com

 

Artificial Plants or Permanent Potanicals Require No Maintainence

artificial plants

Artificial plants and flowers, also known as “silk” or permanent botanicals, have one obvious advantage over live plants–they don’t die. No need to remember to water or fertilize them. They can be placed anywhere without the need for light, and you can go away for a vacation without having to be concerned about them. Unlike the artificial plants and flowers of the past, today’s realistic delicate cloth blooms and foliage appear almost as delicate as the real thing. Artificial floral arrangements will gently sway when carried, unlike the crude plastic flowers available during the last century. Some petals and leaves appear so authentic that touch is the only way to distinguish them from live plants. Artificial flowers are sometimes used in arrangements along with fresh flowers to give the whole arrangement a realistic look. We will discuss the realistic artificial plants and flowers before going on to the fun fakes.

If you buy your artificial plants ready-made in either a cut floral arrangement or a potted plant, you will avoid a lot of work, but what fun is that? See a hobby or craft supply store for supplies you can use to make something uniquely your own. Start with an idea of where you want to put your finished project. That will give you an estimate of how large you want your arrangement to be. Consider your color scheme as well. If your basic color scheme is neutral you can go for whatever colors you want in your creation. You can make different arrangements for different seasons and rotate them throughout the year. If your home is full of your favorite colors you can match them in your artificial flowers or contrast them with new colors to make your craft stand out. The type of flowers you will want is another consideration. If you have a favorite flower or plant your choice will be clear. If not, try buying a wide range of shapes, colors, and textures to hold your viewers’ interest.

Unlike real plants, permanent botanicals need not be the same kind to share a container. Although mixing cacti with tropicals and evergreens might seem a bit crazy, there is nothing to keep you from “planting” your orchids alongside your tulips or daisies.

living-room-with-plants

Once you have your artificial plants and/or flowers you will need a container or containers to hold them. For an outdoor garden look choose terracotta pots. For an exotic look try bamboo vases. Clear glass is always good for a classic look. Smooth wooden and metallic containers provide contrast with your more natural-appearing permanent botanicals. Styrofoam and glue complete your needs.

To “plant” an artificial plant in a container, cut your styrofoam to the size and shape of your container. Glue the styrofoam into your container. To make your plant appear to be the real thing, insert it vertically as a real plant would grow. For a whimsical look bend your stem into improbable but artistic shapes. Cover your foam with foliage or moss. When using artificial foliage insert it into your styrofoam all around your plant stem . When using moss you can use u-shaped wires to hold it into place. When “planting” several plants into one container, first decide whether your arrangement will be seen from one side or from all sides. If it will be next to a wall or on a buffet table your design will be one-sided. If the arrangement is meant to stand on a table where it will be viewed from all sides, that must be taken into consideration in your design. If your arrangement is to be one-sided have your tallest plant or flower at the back of the container for depth. If your project is meant to be seen from all sides place your tallest plant or flower into the center. For a modern look keep the arrangement simple. For a more traditional look place more plants or flowers around your tallest element, tapering from the tallest to the shortest thing. Remember to cover all foam with foliage or moss. Add accents like pine cones or artificial birds or butterflies for a natural look.

Make Christmas presents using conical styrofoam, precut. Cover your tree with foliage and add small glass orbs. Top it off with an angel or star and your gift is ready to warm someone’s heart. Styrofoam also comes in spheres and wreath shapes. Pave spheres with artificial flowers or foliage and fill a glass container with your decorative orbs. Make a wreath by covering donut-shaped styrofoam with a variety of flowers and foliage. Or buy a wreath made of grapevine and glue on your artificial flowers or plants.

If you are using a clear glass container, of course, you will not want to use foam. Simply place enough stems into your container so that they hold each other up in place. If you want a highly realistic look, try pouring clear glue into the bottom of your glass container. When it dries it will resemble water. Just be sure to get a type of glue that dries clear rather than yellow.

For the fabulous fun frankly fake look, try paper flowers. Huge daisies and tulips in bright, improbable colors will give your party or your little girl’s room an Alice in Wonderland look. And don’t forget florigami. A wide variety of plans for making paper flowers is available, and there is no limit on the colors you can use. Add paper birds and butterflies for an origami garden. Cover conical foam by gluing origami flowers over its entire surface. Place a stick vertically into the bottom. Cut out foam and glue it into a container. Now place the other end of the stick into the foam in your container. Glue in moss to cover your foam. Now you have an origami topiary.

The things you can do with artificial plants and flowers are limitless. Let your imagination run wild and remember to have a good time. Enjoy!

Aloe Vera Plants Make Great Ornament Plants

aloeveraplants

Aloe vera plants are succulents, meaning that they have thick leaves and roots that hold in water. Their long, pointed light green leaves grow in concentric circles. Long vertical branches give rise to tubular reddish-orange flower, with several flowers growing outward horizontally from their central stem.

Aloe vera plants grow only in cultivated conditions, although relatives of aloe vera grow in the wild in Africa. The plant has been cultivated at least as early as ancient Egypt, where is was put into the tombs of the pharaohs. Aloe vera is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens in the southwestern United States, where water conservation is a consideration .Aloe vera plants can be grown outdoors in a mild climate. Due to their succulent nature aloe vera plants do not tolerate frost or temperatures of 32 degrees or cooler. The water in their leaves and roots can freeze and destroy the plant’s cells. If it freezes where you live you can grow aloe vera in pots near a sunny window and take them outside in the summer.

To grow aloe vera plants outside you will need moderately rich, well-drained soil in a sunny location. Although aloe vera is drought-resistant, it will do best if watered during the summer when it is growing. Allow the soil to dry completely before rewatering. Aloe vera roots grow near the surface, so small, frequent waterings are better than deep watering. Aloe vera plants can be found in most nurseries, as can a wide variety of other succulents.

Esthetically aloe vera plants work well with other succulents and cacti. For variety plant aloe vera near escheveria rosettes, ice plant, jade plant or barrel cactus to make an interesting succulent garden. Sand or gravel and pretty rocks will give your garden a Southwestern theme. You can find interesting rocks at a rock show or garden center, but it is more fun to visit the desert and go rock hounding. There you can pick and choose just what you want to personalize your succulent garden.

Aloe vera

To raise the plants indoors provide wide pots where the roots can spread horizontally. Terra cotta pots are good because they are porous, allowing excess water to escape. Terra cotta pots also usually have a hole in their bottoms where excess water can run out, and fit in well with the desert theme. Standard potting mixes are available from the same nurseries that sell the plants. Aloe vera plants will thrive near a window where they can get plenty of sunlight. If you don’t have a window with enough sun exposure, a fluorescent lamp will do. Again, water during the summer months and allow the soil to dry between waterings. Arrange several pots of different sizes near your window, and plant aloe vera in one or two, along with some other species of succulents and cacti . Plant the tallest plants into the tallest containers and place the tallest containers nearst the window and the shortest in front so that all plants can be seen. Be sure not to allow the tall plants to overshadow the shorter ones entirely. Remember, they all need some sunlight. Terra cotta pots can be painted, but do not cover the entire container with paint. Leave the majority of the surface bare so that it will stay porous. Paint small shapes or droodles of color that will contrast nicely with your brown pots. Simple paintings of the sun or clouds go well with your desert scene. Southwestern colors such as sand, light green, or peach will look nice, or pick your favorite colors according to your individual taste or room decor. Abstract shapes in bright colors are easy to paint and go well with a modern theme. If you want to be really creative try standing an old Western boot or hat alongside your succulent display.

Aloe vera plants produce plantlets, offspring that grow from the sides of the mother plant. Remove the babies from the mother with a knife and replant them into their own pots or corners of your garden.

Aloe vera gel is thought by many to have medicinal value, although the research is scant and sometimes contradictory. It has been studied for use in helping to heal wounds and combat dental plaque because of its antimicrobial properties. It is used in hand creams and cosmetics as a soothing emollient and has shown some promise for local treatment of psoriasis, genital warts, frostbite and acne. A study from Ohio State University, reported in March of this year in Veterinary Ophthalmology, found that aloe vera might help to hasten eye wound healing in dogs. Last year the journal Nutrition reported a study on aloe vera and diabetes. Researchers there found a possible use for aloe vera for weight and fat loss in prediabetic individuals and patients newly diagnosed with diabetes. In June of 2013 the journal Metabolic Syndromes and Related Disorders published an article on the subject from Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. Researchers there discovered that aloe vera preparations could possibly prove useful for lowering blood sugar levels in prediabetes some day.

Some gardeners swear by aloe vera as a treatment to soothe burns and insect bites. For external use cut the leaf at the bottom and collect the gel. Apply to the affected skin.

Aloe vera is used in making certain commercial desserts when a gel is needed. It is used to make pectin, used in jams and preserves instead of gelatin. There are also recipes for preparing aloe vera at home. Some cooks put diced aloe vera leaves into smoothies along with their favorite fruits and vegetables. Vegetarian Times suggests making a pineapple-aloe cocktail with ½ cup pineapple juice, ¼ to ½ cup aloe vera juice, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cranberry juice, 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey, and a lime wedge for garnish. The drink contains 114 calories per serving.

Aloe vera plants can make an attractive and easy-to-grow addition to your garden or indoor plant collection. There is some possibility that the plants could have health benefits as well, and should be used with caution upon the advice of a physician. Enjoy.

Tillandsia From the Bromeliad Family Are Great for Small Room Decors

tillandsia

Tillandsia, or air plants, are members of the bromeliad family.  Over 500 different species of tillandsia have their own unique appearance, so the idea of decorating a small space with a flowering plant offers lots of options.

Tillandsias are native to Latin America and the southern United States, and many of them have a tropical appearance. So-called Spanish moss is actually tillandsia, and can give a wonderfully Caribbean or Spanish Main look to your patio.

Tillandsia flowers are also good for color accents. Tillandsia aeranthos flowers are composed of blue petals and red petals. Tillandsia intermedia blooms in a deep pinkish purple shade. Various varieties of Tillandsia ionanthas  bloom red,orange, white, or peach. The leaves of the red-blooming varieties “blush” or turn red before the flowers bloom, similar to other  kinds of bromeliads. The Mexican variety of ionanthus has central blue flowers surrounded by blushing leaves. Tillandsia incarnata has red spikes with pink petals. Tillandsia fasciculata has long orange flowers fading into yellow and chartreuse.

Some tillandsias are grown for their fragrance as well as their visual beauty.  One of the easiest to grow is Tillandsia Mallemontii, a native of the Brazilian rain forest. It usually produces fragrant blue to purple blooms, although one rare variety has white flowers.  Tillandsia ixioides is another easy to grow species. It produces bright yellow, highly fragrant blossoms.Tillandsia crocata and Tillandsia caliginosa are also known for their fragrant yellow blooms. The king of fragrant tillandsias is probably Tillandsia duratii, with purple flowers whose fragrance will fill a lare room. Their scent has been compared to grape-flavored soft drinks or lollipops.

Nor are the blooms the only attractive thing about tillandsia. Their foliage, although usually a light green, can sometimes have unusual white stripes, as in some varieties of Tillandsia ionantha. Leaves are typically pointy, but show variations in their growth patterns. Some species have straight spikes growing out from  the  plants’ centers, while others can take on a mysterious flowing appearance, almost like something you would expect to see under the ocean. Still others grow in conical or spiral shapes.  Sizes vary as well, giving the creative gardener an opportunity to plant tiny tillandsias alongside plants several inches tall for variation and texture.

Tillandsia plants and seeds can be obtained from specialty florists, nurseries, and bromeliad societies. Californians can buy tillandsias at Bird Rock International in Carlsbad, Marilynn’s Gardens in Santa Ana, Rare Exotics in Los Angeles, Rainforest Flora in Torrance, and Dutch Vandervort Exotic Plants in Ventura. Florida has a wealth of exotic nurseries to choose from: Color Zone Tropicals, Inc. in Winter Garden, Michael’s Bromeliads in Venice, Tropiflora and Level 21 in Sarasota,  Russel’s Bromeliads and Blossom World Bromeliads in Sanford, Bullis Bromeliads in Princeton, Country Garden Nursery and Lee Moore in Miami, Twin Creeks Tropical Gardens in Malabar, Bromeliad Express in Lutz, Bromeliad Specialties Inc. in Homestead, Sunshine Ranches in Fort Lauderdale, McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery in Eustis, Air Plant City in Cape Canaveral, and Deroose Plants, Inc., in Apopka. Hawaiians can buy their tillandsias at Bromeliads Hawaii, LLC in Hilo, Hanalei Nursery in Makawao, or Dina’ Garden in Wahiawa. Arthur Boe Distributor is available in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Cactus Plantation in Edwards and D & M Enterprises in Bogue Chitto sell tillandsias in Mississippi. To find tillandsias in Oregon see Treeborne Gardens in Brookings or Oscar E. Allen in Salem. In Texas see Teas Nursery Company Inc. in Bellaire or Magic Mushroom in Dallas. If you live in Washington State, the place to go is for tillandsias is Quail Creek Pottery and Plants in Olympia.

Australians have a wide variety of options when it comes to buying tillandsias. Cradle Nurseries in New South Wales sells their plants by post.The Bromeliad Man, Bromeliad Garden Nursery, Pine Grove Bromeliads, and Bromeliad Garden Nursery in New South Wales sell the plants in person. Other Australian sources include: Brisbane Bromeliad Center, Bromania, Bromagic Bromeliad Nursery, Bromeliad Garden, Dragonwood Gardens Symdoc Pty Ltd, and Wildfire Garden Bromeliad Nursery, in Queensland, and Raemaur Plant Farm in Victoria.

Bromeliads Online Ltd. is available in New Zealand. Or buy tillandsias in person at Anwyl Bromeliads in Wellington.

Epiphytophile is the place for tillandsias as well as other exotic plants in Singapore.

In Thailand see Karina Airplants or SSairplants Garden in Khon Kaen.

In the United Kingdom, Croston Cactus in Lancashire sells bromeliads as well.

The Netherlands has two nurseries for tillandsia lovers, Corn Bak. B.V. in Assendelft and Bunnik Veresea’s in Kudelstaart.

South Africa’s Glenn Brealey, Valhalla Bromeliads is available in Capetown.

Bromeliad societies, including tillandsia enthusiasts, abound throughout the world and are good places to learn about and enjoy these fascinating plants. The  Bromeliad Society International has member organizations in Australia, Germany, New Zealand, California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Michigan, and Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Bromeliad Society meets once a month on the last Saturday either at the Lyon Arboretum or on a field trip.  Speakers or topics of discussion are usually scheduled.

If you are lucky to live in the Houston area, you might want to attend the June picnic of the Houston Bromeliad  Society, which will feature a garden tour and ABC’s of growing the family.

The Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies’ Quarterly Meeting will be held on the 12th, of July this year, hosted by the Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society. On the 26th and 27th of July this year the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Society in California will hold its 44th Annual Show and Sale.The event will be held at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

In August from the 16th to the 17th, the Seminole Bromeliad and Tropical Plant Society Sale will take place  at the Garden Club of Sanford, Florida. On 11 October of this year  the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies will be having another quarterly meeting, hosted by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society. The Southeast Michigan Bromeliad Society holds monthly meetings for enthusiasts to exchange information, plants, and seeds. Meetings are held in homes, nurseries, and the Mattaei Botanical Gardens.

For information on how to grow tillandsia, please see the article entitled Airplants. Good luck and happy growing.