Living on air

It sounds impossible but some plants are really available to live without soil and apparently on air, namely Tillandsia – a genus of plants commonly known as, well… Air Plants.

Andy’s Air Plants from Newlyn in Cornwall is fast gaining a reputation for these unusual plants and nursery owner Andrew Gavin will be giving a talk at the festival with displays of these wonderful houseplants – plus of course varieties for sale.

The most famous member of this Bromeliad family is the pineapple. While the pineapple is a terrestrial, Bromeliad (growing on the ground) the ‘Air Plants’ are epiphytic which means they grow on other plants or up in the air which is how they get their common name. Their roots are only for attachment and they take all moisture and nutrients through their leaves.

The fashion for living walls and greening your space, means they’ve recently seen a huge surge in popularity.

“I think it is a fairly recent thing,” says Andy. “It’s difficult for me to say because I am so immersed into it but clearly a lot of people in flats and apartments want something new and interesting and these fit the bill. There’s a real boom in houseplants at the moment for those with just window boxes and air plants are low maintenance plants perfect for people with less space.”

The Tillandsia genus comprises of around 600-plus species and prices range from £5 to £50. There is a huge variety in the genus from silver or green foliage with beautiful flowers of many colours and some species have flowers that are wonderfully fragrant.

Andy has been collecting and growing these amazing plants in Newlyn, Cornwall for over a decade and you can see his wonderful displays at the festival on 3rd and 4th May and hear Andy share his knowledge in the Country Gardener Talks Tent.

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