Air Supply

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airplant1.jpgBB has cared for many houseplants over the years, but our air plants are the coolest ones yet.

If you’re familiar with them, you know their scientific name is Tillandsia, that they’re a member of the Bromeliad family, and are known in general as an epiphyte — something that gets all of its moisture and nutrients from the air (and rain, if it lives outdoors).

That’s the official word on Tillandsias. In reality, how these green, spiky, unusual plants live and flower on a shelf inside our windowless bathroom — without being potted, or in water — is pure magic.

A few garden stores in Brooklyn carry them, like Root, Stock & Quade in Park Slope, but the largest selections (we know of) are at GRDN in Boerum Hill and Sprout Home in Williamsburg, where we found a ton of exotic, colored varieties.

glassm.jpgSprout’s proprietress Tassy Zimmerman displays her air plants a number of ways — in a big vase by the register; in this $12.50 hanging globe (which can also be set on a table or desk); and on the wall — a style, she says, a few customers have copied in their own homes.

Others use them as place settings or table centerpieces. We think they would look good in offices and cubicles too, since they do just fine with artificial light.

rockplant.jpgSprout Home also sells rock plants — tropical plants like these bromeliads that “grow” from a lava rock. They sit in a half-inch of water at all times, and keeping them in this glass dish ($7.50) — aside from being a pretty display — makes it easy to gauge their thirst.

But we’re partial to our portable, versatile air plants, which just need a little bit of water each week to thrive. Some do well with a one-hour soak once a week, or a quick douse under the faucet one to three times a week. (We’re still getting the exact amount right.) And they apparently like a once monthly fertilizing — Sprout Home uses Schultz Plant Food — though we’ve yet to be that good to ours. If fact, a few have died on our watch — but when they cost $3.50 to $12.50 apiece, it’s easy to forgive ourselves.

GRDN, 103 Hoyt St. near Atlantic, 718-797-3628, grdnbklyn.com
Sprout Home, 44 Grand St. near Kent, 718-388-4440, sprouthome.stores.yahoo.net

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