This giant air plant loves to play in the tub.

This giant air plant loves to play in the tub.

One joy of gardening is variety. A person can cultivate shade-loving bromeliads, cacti that flourish in desert heat, or temperamental long-stem roses. My children recently gave me a huge air plant that looks like a head of cabbage with dreadlocks. Called Tillandsia Xerographica, the plant also resembles an eco-friendly silvery Medusa.

“Mom, it’s important you dunk this air plant every couple of weeks in water,” my son said.

Need to give my plant baby a regular bath? That’s a new one.

I thanked my children and cradled the family addition in its macrame swing as though it were an infant. Affectionately dubbed Harry, the air plant settled at center stage on my patio table. As it originates in South America—particularly Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico—it likes the warmth of morning sun, but not direct light.

The bathing part was more challenging. Should I throw a rubber ducky in the tub?

“Give these babies a good soak, fully submerging them in water for five to 30 minutes every seven to 10 days during the growing season of spring and summer,” said Whitney Jackson, nursery co-owner of Leafy Luv Affair.

Distilled or rain water is best. Avoid using tap water as it can prevent air plants from absorbing moisture and nutrients. Slightly rolled or curled leaves indicate it is time to water, and brown leaf tips are a sign that the plants aren’t getting enough water.

As I carried Harry to the tub, the tendrils curled around my fingers like a child reaching out. Harry seemed to enjoy the soak, splashing about as I turned him upside down, then right-side up. The top growth turned a delightful pink on the edges while moisture absorbed.

“Always tip your air plant over after watering to ensure all excess water drains out of nooks and crannies,” Jackson said. “We recommend letting them drain out fully overnight before putting them back in their homes so excess water can’t cause rot.”

Harry was up for an all-nighter. Hope that doesn’t foreshadow teen partying!

Air plants require no soil for nutrients, so I add a water-soluble fertilizer to a clean spray bottle and mist him alternate weeks from the baths. So far, Harry and I are getting along fabulously.

Can’t wait to read stories to him about how growers are propagating from seeds since natives are becoming endangered. He’s safe with me.

In the same way, God adores us like precious babies and notices every detail.

Today’s Bible verse:

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” Matthew 10:30 NIV.


Matt and Whitney Jackson, owners of LeafyLuvAffair

Summer Rayne Oakes” houseplant care of Tillandsia Xerographica 19 of 365

5-minute video

Description of air plants (The gift offer has a $8.95 shipping fee.)