Epiphyte – Air Plants
You wouldn’t know an epiphyte if it dropped on your head? Don’t be more confident. You may easily have some growing right out there in your backyard.
How To Grow Air Plants? many plants generally cultivated in pots are “air plants“ in their native environment and would barely recognize if you slipped them out of their bowls and put them to the branch of your live oak tree.
Orchids, bromeliads, and aroids are plants most frequently employed as epiphytes in South Florida landscapes. You may connect many species straight to a tree or affixed to wood or tree fern plates or alternative natural structures dangled from branches, walls, or fences.
Thousands of orchid varieties are “air plants “in nature. The most famous orchid is the cattleya, and one called `Hailstorm,’ which hangs many branches in Fairchild’s artificial rain forest. Epidendrum orchids do efficiently in fern baskets, pots, or fixed straight to a tree.
Many bromeliads are so versatile they’ll thrive reasonably well on the ground, in a pot, or on a tree limb. Tillandsias require so little water; you can nail it or paste it to a railing or piece of driftwood.
Aroids, control tropical vegetation. It’s a diversified group that consists of many recognizable house plants. Anthuriums, for illustration, consist of many subtle flowering, velvety-leaved, strap-leaf, and birds-nest forms. Some provide classy clusters of colorfully tinted berries.
Vining aroids, for instance, philodendrons and syngoniums, may be grown in trees but are intrusive. If you put orchids, bromeliads, and aroids on the same tree, chances are the aroids will cluster the others out.
If you grow a birds-nest anthurium under an oak tree, the acorns pierce the leaves. Grow it in a guarded space for a full, luscious plant.
Alternative plants that flourish distant from the ground:
Platyceriums: (staghorn ferns) are generally cultivated on tree trunks and wood plates. Revival fern, a frequent dweller of oak trees, is a tiny, pretty fern that is black-green when damp, coils up into a brown ball in arid weather, then glances back, green again, once it rains.
Whisk fern: thrives wild on palm trees but rarely transplants successfully. Strap and maidenhair ferns will thrive on mossy old tree trunks or moist rocks.
Lycopodiums: These fern allies have long, dangling stems and are best planted in hanging baskets or connected to plaques.
Cactus — Christmas and Easter cactus, epiphyllum, and Rhipsalis (mistletoe cactus) are miniature epiphytes. Night-blooming cereus makes a considerable plant and is frequently grown on pine trees.
Ginger: Some group representatives, mainly hedychiums and alpinias, are epiphytes, which grow in humus on tree limbs but are rarely encountered in horticulture.
Cycad: Zamia pseudoparisitica is the solely epiphytic cycad and is deemed a collector’s piece. An inhabitant of the Philippines bears leaves that may amount to 6 feet in length.
Begonias: Twelve distinct species may be cultivated on slabs with sphagnum moss.
Gesneriads: Especially aeschynanthus and nematanthus will flourish as epiphytes.
“Ant plants“ — These peculiar plants with inflated stems or bases house colonies of ants in nature. Hydnophytum formicarium, for illustration, is an epiphytic shrubbery with a spherical base and forms a good variety on a wood plaque or piece of driftwood
Peperomias: Peperomias consists of many species, most of them insufficiently classified. They’ll grow in floating baskets or plaques and need proper drainage to ward off fungus.
How To Grow Epiphytes
The structured and expanded bark of live oaks is an excellent place for epiphyte roots to take grip. Guava and calabash trees are commonly covered with epiphytes in the environment and are valuable hosts for tiny orchids and tillandsias.
Alternative opportunities are mature, inadequately managed mango and avocado (healthy trees cast too much shade), West Indian cherry, wild tamarind (specifically for staghorn ferns), coarse-barked species of bottlebrush, and yellow tabebuia.
Soft-trunked palms may hold orchids such as cattleya and Schomburgkia. Particular palms retain their old leaf bases, which collect leaf clutter and make excellent supports for ferns. Even the rugged trunks of giant cycads can uphold ferns.
Dodge heavy trees; they’ll drop too much shade for your epiphytes to thrive well, Watson suggests. Trees that discarded their leaves in winter may endanger the plants to too high light for a couple of months.
Trees with peeling bark will drop epiphyte seeds and plants before developing into established.
Alternative Planting Options
If there’s no specific tree in your backyard, you can implement replacement hosts. Cypress or cedar plaques make great backings for platyceriums and alternative plants. Cork, cut into plates or chunks, does not assimilate water and is suitable for building dry-growing species such as tillandsias and lady-of-the-night orchid. Fibrous tree fern, developed into baskets and slabs, is an excellent backing for most epiphytes.
Driftwood creates a magnificent base but must be washed entirely (or leave it outside in the rain for 30 days or so) to leach out salts. If you use a dash of vinegar on driftwood, be confident it involves no copper, which can undermine bromeliads and several alternative plants.
Platycerium will thrive on whole unhusked coconuts, while young orchids may be hooked up to the complex, fibrous side of halved coconut husks.
Aroids will ascend cypress stakes and bamboo poles. To build a strap-leaved anthurium, cover the roots in wet sphagnum moss, connect it to a plaque and have the moss from draining out.
To attach a plant to a branch or tree trunk, use a monofilament line, strong twine, coated line, or strips of nylon fabric. Finally, the roots will connect strongly to the base. Wire hairpins will keep a plant to a tree fern box or slab.
A staple pistol and monofilament line make it simple to add a plant to a wood plaque. Use half-inch stainless steel staples that won’t deteriorate.
It’s a great idea to place a few handfuls of moist sphagnum moss between a plant and plaque, and Kathy Fanning, Fairchild’s custodian of plants, suggests including Terrasorb, a colloidal substance, to the moss to preserve it from wilting out or to make it simpler to wet when it does become dry.
Plants cultivated in pots and crates may be regarded epiphytic, too, when the medium in which they’re planted is there mainly for assistance, not nourishment. Vanda orchids, for illustration, are routinely grown in small wooden crates with a few chunks of charcoal or bark to maintain the plant until its roots have grabbed hold of the basket.
When it outgrows its box, you can quickly put the whole thing in a giant crate.
Growing in Pot
Cattleya and diverse orchids usually are cultivated in clay vessels with a particular medium. Fairchild horticulturists employ a mix of one-half tree fern fiber and one-half a combo of fir bark or shredded redwood and little chunks of charcoal.
Fill the bowl one-third full of drainage material — you can use clean cracked pottery, but foam “peanuts” employed as packing material are stronger, Fanning says — then load with the orchid mix.
The plant should lie on top of the medium. “Never sink the rhizome,” Fanning says. A pot clip or ring will have the plant in place until its roots get held.
Cattleya orchids are fed 20-20-20 fertilizer with a pinch of Super-Thrive (a plant vitamin) added to each gallon of fertilizer solution. If you use a sowing medium involving much bark, which diminishes nitrogen as it collapses, uses a 30-20-10 fertilizer, Fanning suggests.
In Fairchild’s Rare Plant House, vandas are provided with 20-20-20 at one-fourth to one-half strength once per week in summertime and once every three weeks to a month in winter, she says.
The bromeliad mix used at Fairchild exists of three segments, each of peat moss and perlite, plus two parts each of tree fern fiber, small bark chips, and charcoal. A touch of slow-release fertilizer, Terrasorb, and Perk also may be added.
Bromeliads are provided with a 10-30-20 granular fertilizer dissipated in water with a drop of SuperThrive; on the other hand, 20-20-20 suits them too.
Any epiphyte will enjoy an application of fish emulsion now and then. And because they cannot depend on the soil for moisture, they’ll also appreciate an infrequent sprinkling during dry spells.
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