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Airy Fairy: Growing Air Plants From Seeds Like Magic.

Growing air plants in your home can make you look like a green-thumbed wizard. Plants seemingly growing in thin air look great and are also brilliant conversation starters.

When it comes time to propagate your air plants, most owners will separate offcuts or pups from their mature plants and grow these. But there is another option! Air plants also produce viable seeds which you can germinate and grow yourself!

 Growing from seed can mean a long time before you have full-sized plants compared to propagating by separation, but it also means you can get a whole lot more plants at once and the plants that grow are usually stronger and healthier than propagated ones.

 So how do you go about growing air plants from seed? Read on as we clear the air for you.

Getting your hands on air plant seeds isn’t necessarily hard, but it can be a little tricky. You can either harvest seeds from your own plant or buy your seeds from a dealer. 
Seeds will appear on your air plant in a pod which will look like a cotton ball or dandelion head when it opens. Using tweezers lets your harvest the individual seeds from the pod. It's a bit fiddly, but it’s the cheapest way to get seeds.
Buying seeds on the other hand lets you skip the harvesting step, and gets you viable, ready-to-go seeds straight away. Reputable seed retailers will sell only fresh, viable seeds to you. 

You’ll need to get your hands on a container big enough to hold your growing medium of choice and several seeds about 5-10cm apart. The size of the container will depend on how many seeds you have to plant. Spacing the seeds out this far will mean that your plants can develop into larger seedlings before you need to start separating them. The larger the plant, the more robust and less fragile they are. 

The best growing medium for air plants is one that can hold moisture but drains freely. Coco-coir, peat moss, and some fabrics like nylon stockings, Velcro sheets, and flyscreen can also fit this bill. 

Place your planting medium in your container and have a bright, protected spot ready to store them. You don’t need to cover the seeds, and you want to encourage good airflow around them, to stop them from rotting. 

Before you lay your seeds into your container, you’ll need to check if they’re ready for planting.  Air plant seeds can begin to germinate in the seed pod before you harvest them. These seeds will have a small green tip on them. If you see this, your seeds are ready for planting. 

 If you don’t see green tips, and your seeds look brown and dry, you’ll need to soak them in warm water until you see the green tips emerge. You can do this in a small container filled with water or with moistened material like fabric or cotton. This process can take between 2-4 weeks, and you’ll need to freshen and top up the water during this time. 

After 4 weeks in water, your seeds should have green tips showing and be ready for planting. If they don’t, then it’s safe to say that those seeds aren’t viable, and they can be disposed of. 

When your seeds are ready for planting, spread them out onto your planting medium using tweezers. You want to place them individually and not as clumps, and you want to space them out so that they’re easier to handle when it comes time to separate your seedlings.

Once planted, it becomes a waiting game. Make sure that the planting medium stays wet, but not waterlogged, and be sure to let it dry a bit before watering with a mister again. Soggy soil can cause algae which can smother your seedlings, and excessive moisture can encourage moulds and other fungal rots that will kill your seedlings.

After around 4 weeks you should begin to see those green tips turn into true leaves, and your seeds turn into small seedlings. At this point, you need to continue to keep them moist and let them grow bigger before you think about touching them.  
Once your new seedlings get to a few more leaves and a size that you can easily handle, you can begin to move them into the locations you eventually want them to grow in. You’ll still need to provide good light and high humidity, but the plant's demands will begin to be more like their mature housemates than they were as a seedling. 
Full maturity can take anywhere from 1-2 years, but once they get to this point, your seedling's growth will explode and become much more rapid. Your plants will soon be ready for dividing for more propagation, or ready to start seeding themselves!

Deciding to grow air plants by seeds is a long but rewarding process. You can get more plants that are often stronger and healthier than you might by propagating pups. So make like an ‘Airy Godmother and work some magic by germinating some air plant from seeds!

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