Monday, December 30, 2013

Versatile, Fabulous Tillandsias

Large Tillandsia bulbosa in bloom

Tillandsias a.k.a. "air plants" are all the rage. I love them, not because they are so popular right now, but because they can be used so many different ways and they are easy to grow. I love it when people are  interested in any houseplant and when they are successful they will be encouraged to grow more.

 I saw the Tillandsias to the left and below at a trade show. This company mostly sells fairy garden accessories and here they were displaying their products in "air"iums (not terrariums, because no terra, or earth) with air plants. Adorable!(and smart merchandising)


 This "air"ium is so cute with the house, gravel and moss.

I made these shell planters by gluing a Tillandsia to the shell with E-6000 glue. Do NOT use hot glue. It will burn the plant and kill it. Believe me, I've seen this done.

 These "air"iums are Christmas ornaments. Aren't they creative? (I made them for our garden center) Everyone should have a living ornament on their Christmas tree! After Christmas, take the holiday decorations out and hang it in a window. 


I had a small dinner party and hung a Tillandsia ornament from the chandelier.

The picture above and to the left were taken on a garden walk this past summer. What an awesome way to display the Tillandsias. The tree has spanish moss or Tillandsia usenoides, Tillandsia xerographica, Tillandsia ionantha, and many other varieties. It was placed in an outdoor gazebo and even had white lights wrapped around it.

Tillandsia xerographica

These Tillandsia in glass balls are ionanthas and have reindeer moss and a small stick covered with lichens included. Natural accessories are great with Tillandsias. You could use acorns, sweet gum balls, or pine cones. Anything you find will probably work, making sure there are not insects included in what you bring in.

Taking care of Tillandsias is super easy. They do not live on "air" as the name implies. Therein lies the problem with people growing them. "They just live on air?" NO. In Florida and other places they come from, it is humid and quite often rains every day. Thus, they receive water very often. Here in the frigid north with the heaters running almost constantly at this time of year, they need to be soaked at least once a week. I soak them once a week and mist them, as well. I usually soak them for about 30 minutes and then let them drain upside down for a few minutes. Tillandsias drying upright may rot from water sitting in the crown of the plant. They naturally grow on a slight slant in nature, allowing them to drain. If they are in a glass container like the ones above, they could be misted a couple times a week and be fine because of being slightly enclosed. I would not recommend they be kept in a completely enclosed container because of the rotting factor. 
Another great thing about Tillandsias is the fact that they are very inexpensive. Most of the ones you will find, will be less than $20, depending on where you live. These are ones that are sold on their own. If they are on a piece of wood, or in a glass ball, they will, of course, be more costly.
The facts are, they are inexpensive, easy to grow, and beautiful, versatile plants. So, what are you waiting for? Find an Independent Garden Center near you, and invest in some great houseplants-Tillandsias!

How fun is this?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Poinsettias are Not Blase!

Who says poinsettias are blase? Well, a lot of people actually. I was one of those people, but have become a huge fan. Huge!
 I love them on antique postcards.......


on doilies....

My Mom made this beautiful doily for me.

on pillowcases.....

My Grandma Eldred embroidered this.
as Christmas ornaments....

on clocks.....

If it didn't say Christmas it would stay up all year.

on fabric....

This is the fabric I used to make my dining room table cloth.

 and antique handkerchiefs.....

 on wrapping paper......

and most especially on this antique picture my friend bought me. I love it!!!

Antique poinsettia print.

 Oh. Don't forget the candle holders.


 And those are just the non-living kind. We haven't even talked about the living poinsettias yet.
 They previously only came in red, white, and pink. But now, they are speckled, spotted, purple, blue, orange, and teal, just to mention a few.

A plethora of poinsettias.

Painted and glittered. I think they went a little crazy.....

 Living poinsettias are used to decorate all kinds of things including this beautiful cart at the Belle Isle Conservatory in Detroit, as well as this tree of poinsettias.

Belle Isle Conservatory

Pretty much, I love them on everything, no matter what it is. And if they are so blase, why are they the top selling flowering potted plant in America? 
So where did poinsettias, Euphorbia pulcherrima, come from? How did they become such an icon of Christmas? 
It all began in 1820's when the first United States Ambassador to Mexico,  southern plantation owner and botanist, Joel Robert Poinsett came upon this beautiful wildflower. He sent cuttings back to his greenhouse in South Carolina, and the rest is history. Who wouldn't love a brilliant red potted plant at Christmas time?

Some interesting facts about poinsettias.- Poinsettias are the #1 flowering potted plant sold in America, with over $250 million dollars in sales annually. Women make up 80% of the sales. Red is the #1 color , followed by white, and pink.  They are not poisonous, contrary to popular belief. National Poinsettia Day is December 12, to honor the day Joel Poinsett died in 1851.
Poinsettias have come a long way since the day Joel Poinsett discovered them and sent them to America. I wonder if he would even recognize the beautiful, compact, colorful plants that we have today. I think the painted orange, purple, and blue ones would blow him out of the water. They have an interesting history in America, and I hope you look at them a little differently now and next year decide to purchase one (or two or three) for your home during the holidays.