Air plants are a wonderful addition to any home. There’s a wide range to choose from and they provide many benefits that are backed up by scientific studies.
Some of the air plant benefits include cleaning the air, reducing pollen and other irritants, improving focus at home or work and even reducing your stress levels.
Continue reading to get an insight into the benefits of air plants!
Air Plant Benefits
Here are 10 air plant benefits that you should know about:
1) Air Plants Are Non-Toxic to Pets or Children
You will be relieved to know that…
None of the variety of Tillandsias, commonly known as air plants, are poisonous. Air plants are not toxic to humans or animals, which includes family pets like dogs, cats and rabbits.
If your cat or dog nibbles on them, there’s no cause for alarm. Your air plant will suffer, but the one that nibbled won’t.
Also, there is no evidence of a human or an animal being allergic to air plants. Even people with severe asthma can breathe easy amid the Tillandsia genus. Let me get back to this last bit later on. 😉
Read also: Are Air Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats? – which includes tips to keep your plants safe from your pets!
2) Air Plants Clean The Air
CO2 (emitted when people exhale) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are two of the nastiest indoor pollutants.
But, do air plants clean the air? Are air plants good for the air in our homes?
Most plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen during the day (source). Air plants, on the other hand, release (or breath out) oxygen at night. This type of photosynthesis is called the CAM cycle (crassulacean acid metabolism cycle).
Nevertheless, air plants will reduce CO2 emissions in your home.
In our daily life, we take in a shocking amount of toxins through the air. These toxins are harmful to our health, children being the most susceptible to this threat.
Apart from dust, bacteria, and mould, human-made toxins can cause respiratory problems and disrupt our hormones!
Indoor air pollution has higher concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from plastic and synthetic materials like paint, furniture, carpets, computers, cleaning products, perfume, cosmetic products, air fresheners, candles, etc.
Air plants clean the air from dust, mould, bacteria, human-made toxins and heavy metals too. Using their trichomes, (little scales on their leaves), Tillandsias absorb those particles, removing them from the air.
This process detoxifies the air. As a result, they improve the air quality around us, allowing us to breathe in air that is free from harmful substances and pollutants.
Thanks to the famous NASA Clean Air Study, published in 1989, we know that some plants actually clear the air of toxins in confined spaces. Houseplants like snake plants, spider plants, and peace lily are air purifier plants.
“Indoor plants can positively affect air quality and reliably reduce VOC loads by up to 75% and increase oxygen to carbon dioxide ratios, at least during the day while they are performing photosynthesis.”John Patykowski, the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University.
Reducing Heavy Metals
Plus, further studies also show how the Tillandsia genus filters the air too.
According to this study, air plants like Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss) could be used to clean the air of heavy metals, including mercury.
“We have used plants of the bromeliad family and Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) as sentinel species to detect and absorb mercury from the air in shops contaminated by the gold trade in the Amazon.”Paulo Machado Torres, a senior scientist at the Radioisotopes Laboratory of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Another study showed how help to improve the atmospheric quality and distribution of heavy metals in Argentina by employing Tillandsia capillaris as a biomonitor.
Insider Tip: Keep in check the levels of these indoor air pollutants and reduce CO2 emissions by having plants that purify the air.
3) Air Plants Reduce Pollen Allergies
Many people suffer from respiratory problems, including allergies and asthma.
For those suffering from allergies or asthma, it’s important to keep the air free of pollen and dust.
Air plants improve the air around us by reducing the number of pollen and dust particles. Tillandsias trap the dust and pollen allergens using their trichomes.
So, to prevent sneezing, watery eyes and coughing, you could gift yourself an air plant! 🙂
4) Air Plant Reduce Other Irritants
Air plants act as buffers against all kinds of irritants.
The trichomes on their leaves will get rid of the harmful particles and cleanse the air for us. By improving air quality in the room, air plants reduce allergy symptoms.
Remember that many daily products like air fresheners, incense, candles, potpourri, cleaning products, etc. cause irritation.
If you want to improve your health and reduce your discomfort:
- Get rid of those irritants – I’m not suggesting to go nuts and throw everything out of the window. You can gradually substitute toxic products for cleaner options. I use EWG’s website to find healthier alternatives.
- Get some air plants or other houseplants into your home and office – your respiratory system will thank you for it!
You will not only feel better, but you will look better too!
5) Air Plants Reduce Your Stress Levels
Air plants and, plants in general, can help you recover quicker and also make you feel calmer too.
The therapeutic value of plants being present in a hospital environment and therapeutic horticulture (using plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health) has been proven by multiple studies.
Data from different studies suggest that gardens and planted alcoves can encourage healing. Patients that have access or a view of gardens or greenery recovered more quickly.
“Just three to five minutes spent looking at views dominated by trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anger, anxiety and pain and to induce relaxation.”Source.
Just viewing plants during the recovery period had a positive influence.
“Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly more positive physiologic responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients in the control room.”Source.
Being surrounded by plants helps, whether you are at the hospital, recovering from an illness, or at home!
So, if you had a tough day at work, you had a quarrel with your family or you simply are feeling down…
Plants can reduce your stress levels and make you feel better! 🙂 How amazing is that!
Nature is wise and has the power to make you feel more happy, calm, and optimistic.
6) Air Plants Increase Your Productivity
Plants help everywhere they go – at the hospital, at home, and, of course, at the office!
Air plants can be one of the best office desk plants since they can increase your productivity levels by 15%, and improve both your mood and concentration levels.
Research by the University of Exeter shows that “green offices” (i.e., offices with plants) make staff happier and more productive than offices with no greenery.
When you incorporate plants into the workplace environment:
- There’s a boost in workplace satisfaction.
- Productivity increases by 15%.
- The levels of concentration also increment.
- The physiological stress lowers.
- And there’s perceived air quality.
We need to thank plants for this cognitive boost. Houseplants’ ability to reduce excess carbon dioxide and other toxins in the air makes a big difference.
7) Air Plants Are Easy to Propagate
Tillandsias are easy to propagate.
This means that from 1 plant you can get 1 to 3 baby plants on average (it depends on the variety of air plants you have).
Air plant propagation can be done by division or sowing. Dividing the pups or offsets from the mother plant is the easiest way to propagate air plants. This is done when the pups are a third the size of the parent plant.
Read also: Air Plant Propagation Guide and Pup Care.
8) Air Plants Need No Soil
Tillandsia gets its common name “air plants” because of their natural propensity to cling to a variety of surfaces (like telephone wires, tree branches, barks, bare rocks, etc.) since they don’t root on soil.
Most air plants are epiphytes – among the 650 species of air plants, 635 are epiphytes, which means that they don’t need soil to grow.
This fact makes them an easy and mess-free plant to grow at home, but also at the office! Plus, some varieties are available in convenient small sizes!
9) Air Plants Come in Many Shapes and Colours
This genus is an excellent example of diversity because these plants exhibit a multitude of physiological and morphological differences.
The Tillandsia genus contains over 650 species of air plants, which provides a diverse variety of shapes, textures, sizes, and colours.
There are so many to choose from, that it’s highly impossible that you won’t find one that you love and also suits your environment. 🙂
Air plants are evergreen (they have leaves throughout the year and are always green/grey), perennial (lives more than two years) and flower once they mature.
Their flowers have bright, vibrant colours that can vary greatly:
10) Air Plant Have Many Uses
Two of the plants more reported in America are T. usneoides (commonly known as Spanish moss) and T. recurvata (Ball moss).
Their uses way go back in time.
T. usneoides has been used since the late-archaic and pre-Columbian cultures.
The Tillandsia genus has had different uses at different times (source):
- Ornamental uses (pottery): T. usneoides fibres were found in the pottery-making societies of North America. Tillandsias are also depicted on pre-Incan Mochica pottery of northern Peru.
- Ornamental uses (garden): T. usneoides is used as a decorative arrangement in buildings, as ornamental plants in vertical type support, as air purification indoors, as well as green plant curtain.
- Medicinal uses: Tillandsia has been used in traditional medicine for leucorrhea, rheumatism, ulcers, and haemorrhoid treatments. Also, as an anti-diabetic remedy, emetic, analgesic, purgative, contraceptive, antispasmodic and diuretic. And the list goes on!
- Symbolic uses: Tillandsia was probably known as ‘chicōm-ācatl’ in pre-Columbian cultures.
- In Peru, Tillandsias had magical connotations and some species are used in rituals as adornment, especially: T. usneoides, T. walterivar, T. cauligera and T. walteri.
- In Mexico, T. usneoides had an essential use in Azteca society, including temple decoration. During the post-Colombian time, it’s been used for decorating the nativity scenes in Chiapas.
- Household uses: In Peru, T. usneoides was used to wrap fruit and fragile objects, as well as to fill pillows and mattresses.
- Farming uses: In the early 20th century in Louisiana, Florida USA, T. usneoides was used in the winter by farmers when the pastures were scarce. T. recurvata was used with the same purpose in Brazil.
Nowadays, air plants are mainly used as ornamental and as a medicinal remedy in Latin America. But also as part of the rituals in some communities.
Finally, the Tillandsia genus has economic importance in emerging markets, not only as a decorative houseplant but as well as an ingredient in cosmetics products.