29 Mar Soak City: An Unlikely Fertilizer for Tillandsia
The current state of our tillandsia — our sweet, innocent air plants — has officially thrown us into a shame spiral. It’s a bad scene here in bromeliad land: No specimens have flowered in months. Their tips are scorched. These guys are looking dull, dull, dull.
We think the plants might be getting burnt in their weekly tap water baths — and we also suspect that they are hongry. Luckily, Air Plant City has a nice tutorial here on fertilizing, an essential part of tillandsia care. But how do you fertilize a plant that lacks a soil-based root system? Adding some bromeliad fertilizer (17-8-22, nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) to your mister bottle is one method, but a preferred method of feeding your tillies is soaking them in pond water as part of your normal watering routine.
It turns out that the plant-loving nitrates present in pond water are the natural byproduct of the removal of ammonia and nitrite by nitrogen-fixing bacteria; the same bacterial cycle occurs in your compost bin (minus the live fish). If you’ve got algae in your pond, you’ve got nitrates. If you don’t have a pond, you could dunk your tillies in your aquarium (fresh water, that is; and then there’s the added benefit of watching your fish give them the side-eye) — for 30-45 minutes a week. Remember to shake them off completely and to dry them in a well-ventilated spot near a window. The less light exposure they receive, the less bathing will be needed.
We look forward to reporting back on their health!