Amazing Air Plants: An Interview with the Air Plant Man

I've long been amazed by air plants, those wispy, ethereal plants that seem to exist by magic, living on nothing at all. Usually my lack of a green thumb scares me away from plant ownership, but I couldn't stop admiring these beauties, so I went to the air plant man himself to find out more.

Josh Rosen is a landscape architect whose passion for air plants has spawned a growing business offering the plants, as well as his original air plant frames and boxes to display them. His air plant-based design work has been featured in private residences, offices, retail spaces, restaurants and hotels.

What are airplants?
Air plants are an incredible genus of plants with the ability to live without soil. Their
specially adapted leaves absorb water and nutrients from the air, allowing them to live anywhere in nature, including suspended from treetops and bare rock. Found in South America and the southern United States, air plants have an amazing variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.

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How did you get into air plants?
When I first saw air plants, they immediately captured my attention because their striking sculptural shapes reminded me of adorable alien creatures. Their astounding diversity made me want to collect them all (there are over 600 species) and their unique ability to live without soil sparked a lifelong obsession. I've been designing with them ever since.

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How do you care for them?
Airplants like bright, indirect sunlight and filtered water. They can be watered either by submerging them for several hours about every 10 days, or spraying them until dripping wet more regularly. They like temperatures from 50-80 degrees.

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There are so many different kinds. What's the best way to display them?
Because they're so versatile, the possibilities are endless. A single suspended air plant is simple and beautiful, but they can also be arranged in any style and in any area. That's why it's so fun to design with air plants — they can bring nature to any space, indoors or out.

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For all things air plant and more of Josh's designs, check out Airplantman Designs.

(Images: Josh Rosen)