In the courtyard of his California studio, “Airplantman” Josh Rosen works amid a botanical wonderland full of hand-strung Tillandsia lanterns, custom air plant frames, and “gallery walls.”
Josh Rosen has the calm demeanor of a young, hip monk. When I input his lawn studio in Mar Vista, California, he greets me with blue eyes which might be calm and clean and a mild smile below a beard well-trimmed. He gives tea or water, then a snug however stylishly antique chair so we are able to talk. Once seated, his candy boxer/pit bull mix, Elliot, comes up for a few pets, and I can without delay sense my pulse begin to quiet—no small feat thinking about the site visitors I’d simply confronted at the 405.
As I surprise at how zen I sense in Rosen’s presence, I surprise if it’s due to the fact he changed into a philosophy primary at Northwestern University, however I quickly finish it need to be the air flora. After all, Rosen is known, like a few type of a botanical rock star, through the moniker “Airplantman,” and we’re surrounded through such a lot of Tillandsia that they appear to be his green-haired groupies.
To my left, a huge Tillandsia latifolia spills out of a hoop, even as simply at the back of Rosen’s head, a cluster of Tillandsia aeranthos ‘Minuette’ dances from a easy wire. Nearby, a small Tillandsia crocata boasts a single, aromatic bloom, and Tillandsia ionantha and Tillandsia stricta strike poses in his “Airplantman” lanterns, that have misters internal that deliver them an nearly science-fiction-like glow.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that one of the lanterns changed into these days used on a fixed for the Paramount+ collection Star Trek: Picard. “They desired a courtyard to appearance futuristic,” Rosen says, “so I took that as a compliment.”
With over one hundred air plant species in his outdoor alone, Rosen is a natural-born collector, and while he clapped eyes on his first air plant at a nursery in Hawaii, to mention he changed into love struck is an understatement. “Air flora are so charismatic,” Rosen says. “They’ve were given those bizarre shapes, and that they appear to be extraterrestrial beings from some other planet. I changed into like, ‘I want to get as a lot of those as I can.’”
Once Rosen moved to Los Angeles to turn out to be a panorama architect (his organization is referred to as Studio Grey Green), he determined he needed to justify what number of air flora he had so he began out a business. Nine years later, he now does custom installations for agencies just like the London Hotel, Quicksilver, and Starbucks, even as citizens in L.A. and as a long way away as Singapore rent him to create residing air plant walls.
While we talk the fantastical enchantment of air flora, which through their very call at the least appear to live on on skinny air alone, I’m reminded of this quote from The Secret Garden through Frances Hodgson Burnett: “Magic is usually pushing and drawing and making matters out of nothing. Everything is comprised of magic, leaves and trees, plants and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and human beings. So it need to be all round us. In this lawn—in all of the places.”
I point out the quote to Rosen, and he lets in that The Secret Garden is, in reality, a favourite book, and the passage apt. “I love [the magical quality of] air flora—their wild, waving arms, their beautiful variety,” he says. “Losing your self in creativity, specially in collaboration with flora, brings a effective feel of magic.
“Air flora have a likeness to us, too,” he adds. “Particularly because of their refusal to be earthbound. They honestly do appear to be they might arise and stroll away.”
But I actually have a confession to make: I battle to hold those little buggers alive. Fortunately, Rosen is of the same opinion to behave as my very own non-public assist group. “Talking human beings thru what went incorrect is a great manner to learn,” he says. Read on for his care and preservation tips.
Air flora are local to the Americas and use their roots to anchor themselves to trees, rocks, or even cacti thorns—with out being parasitic. But notwithstanding the reality that they’re referred to as air flora, they do want water and nutrients, that are absorbed through unique scales on their leaves referred to as trichomes.
Air flora thrive outdoors, however in case you need to hold them internal, make certain they’ve bright, oblique light.
Keep in thoughts that Tillandsia with grey leaves are extra sun- and desert-adapted, even as those with greener, wider leaves are extra shade-adapted.
Rather than misting, deliver them a six- to 12-hour soak as soon as a week. “I’ve hardened mine off with faucet water, however ideally, you’d use filtered however now no longer distilled water,” Rosen says.
After, make certain they’ve sufficient air circulate to dry completely.
If you, like me, locate your air plant turns yellow and falls to portions after a deep soak, it’s as it changed into already unhappy. “A shorter soak could were higher to restore it,” Rosen says.
Open a window always air flora love sparkling air. Don’t manage your air flora too much; the trichomes can react to the oils for your skin.