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The Science of Soilless Plants

[Written by Hanafiee Azlee, 6 August 2022]


The beauty of soilless plants. There is no soil mess, there is no need for you to buy loads of pots for monthly repotting, no solid fertilizers needed & no soil’s crumbs for you to worry about!

Tillandsia andreana

“Huh? There is such a thing as soilless plants?” - You may wonder


Duh! The magic of Nature and its constant state of always surprising us when we least expect it! This plant is so low maintenance that all you need to give it for it to grow beautifully big and long is just a good amount of sunlight & mist of water and bam! You are done for the day!


That begs the question, “ why is it not as highly appreciated as the rest of the leafy plants that we all are aware of?”


My theory is that maybe because it is not as showy as other plants such as the Calatheas species that consists of 3 different types of colors genetically shaped and formed! Or the beautiful bougainvillea that consist of beautiful pink or purple bracts, which is a modified or specialized leaf, especially one associated with a reproductive structure such as a flower, inflorescence axis or cone scale.


Tillandsia stricta

Don't get me wrong, Air plants, or generally known as Tillandsia, do flower and produce beautiful petals in between their leaves; however, sadly, they only bloom once in their lifetime! So, you might want to try and experience growing air plants and witness the beautiful blooming stage of airplants, I highly encourage you to do so! Besides, it is actually one of the cheapest plants in the market aside from the commonly sold leafy pothos and philodendron!


Let us get deeper into the characteristics of Airplants:

  • Tillandsia is a genus that houses over 650 species of plants.

  • They can be relatively small, measuring at 5 cm in height to 15 cm in heights!

  • These leaf rosettes, which are a morphological trait shared by Tillandsia species, gather water and nutrients.

  • The blooms or inflorescences are often grown on a stalk or numerous stalks and feature bright, vivid hues.

  • The color of the flower varies widely; this genus has red, yellow, purple, and pink blooms, and multicolored flowers are also recognized.

  • Pollinators are drawn to the vibrant colors. When an air plant blooms, the foliage may also change color, luring pollinators as well. - Hummingbirds, Moths & Bats


Next question you may ask, “what are the benefits of growing air plants at your house?”


These green beings may seem useless or just-for-design-purpose type of plants but believe me when I say that they are a bunch of helpful creatures if we were to nourish & flourish them under our care!


Air Plants Are Non-Toxic to Pets or Children


None of the Tillandsia varieties, also referred to as air plants, are harmful. Animals, including household pets like dogs, cats, and rabbits, are not hazardous to air plants.

Tillandsia bulbosa

Air Plants Clean The Air

  • Reducing of CO2

The majority of plants exhale oxygen and take in carbon dioxide during the day (source). While air plants release (or breathe out) oxygen at night. The CAM cycle is what is used for this sort of photosynthesis (crassulacean acid metabolism cycle).


Nevertheless, air plants will lower your home's CO2 emissions.

  • Removing Toxins

Air plants also remove heavy metals, human-made pollutants, dust, mold, and germs from the air. Tillandsias absorb such particles from the air via their trichomes, which are the tiny scales on their leaves.


Air Plants Reduce Your Stress Levels

  • Feels that work is stressing you out? Get yourself an air plant buddy! Airplants, or plants in general, are known to reduce stress level and pace out your breathing rhythms. I am pretty sure there are psychological aspects behind it but I would like to believe that nature has its own magic!

Air Plants Increase Your Productivity

  • At the office, at home, and of course in the hospital, plants are helpful everywhere!

One of the greatest office desk plants to have is an air plant because they can boost productivity by 15% and enhance mood and concentration.


Air Plant Have Many Uses

  • Air plants are not only known for its beautiful leaf shape but it is also known for its medical purposes! For instance, Tillandsia has been used in traditional medicine to treat ulcers, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, and leucorrhea. Additionally, it functions as a diuretic, analgesic, emetic, purgative, contraceptive, and antispasmodic for diabetes. The list goes on and on!


So, what do you think? Is an air plant your type of plant?