Plants that don't need soil or water to feature at Chelsea Flower Show in bid to attract Millennial gardeners

Air plants are attractive and are easily looked after -
Air plants are attractive and are easily looked after -

Plants that require neither soil nor water to grow will make their debut at this year's Chelsea Flower Show as organisers hope to encourage young novices into gardening.

Photos of air plants displayed neatly in glass terrariums are expected to be uploaded all over social media after the country's top horticulturists said their low maintenance made them a good match for millennials.

Houseplants in general are becoming more and more fashionable among young people, who are increasingly strapped for time and space in their homes.

They are already a firm Instagram trend, with green-fingered youths contributing over 2.2 million pictures of greenery to the #plantsofinstagram hashtag.

This year air plants are expected to lead the way because they require minimal attention, can fit in small spaces and brighten up house shares and flats. They only require occasional misting and sunlight.

A whole section at the Chelsea Flower Show will be dedicated to them. Guy Barter, the chief horticulturalist at the RHS, said: "Air plants are compact, exotic and stylish, making them a great addition to rooms of any size.

"As relatively low maintenance plants, they are a good match for young novices taking the first steps into the wonderful world of gardening.

"These strange and outlandish plants are a great introduction to the wonders of botany and fit very well into any sized space.

Courses on how to assemble terrariums are becoming popular - Credit:  Joshua McCullough
Courses on how to assemble terrariums are becoming popular Credit: Joshua McCullough

"People aren’t born to be gardeners. Now space and time are often short, gardening courses fit the bill nicely.

"They are often included in glass bowls or terrariums, which are ideal for their warmth and humidity needs as well as being attractive and offering the chance to put your own stamp on how they are displayed."

Last year, the charity provided Andrew Gavin, who specialises in the plant, with a bursary to travel the world and discover new examples of the species.

Mr Gavin, who will be showcasing his finds in the Great Pavilion in May, said: "Air Plants are booming in popularity due to the fact that they are so versatile and easy to grow.

"You can just hang them from a piece of wire or place them on your windowsill, you can tie them on to drift wood to mimic how they grow in the wild or you can arrange them on an ornament or among semi-precious stones or sea shells.

"Mist them with rainwater and place them in a position where they get bright light or half a day of sunlight."

His unusual collection of plants includes those that are easy to grow, have scented flowers and plants that change colour.

Popular varieties of air plants include the silvery green tillandsia usneoides, which produces small, fragrant yellow flowers, and the tillandsia xerographica which has colour-changing leaves that go from silvery green to blush-pink in bright light.

They are typically found in the West Indies, Mexico and much of Central and South America, and grow well on shells and rocks.

Terrarium workshops across the UK have started to spring up in anticipation of the trend, which teaches curious gardeners how to make self-contained ecosystems for air plants from £30 a session.

Other websites are also set to take advantage. One such company, Patch Plants, sells house plants including air plants in pretty, fashionable pots. It gives all its varieties human names and delivers them to your door, encouraging customers to post their new “pets” on Instagram.