I just came back from a week in sunny Florida. It was great to be somewhere where the flowers are blooming and the grass is green! I am always fascinated seeing plants grow in the landscape there that I would normally consider tropical or indoor plants here on Long Island. But the group of plants that fascinate me the most are the epiphytes.
Epiphytes (aka "air plants") are plants that grow on other plants. The word epiphyte comes from the Greek 'epi' (meaning 'upon') and 'phyton' (meaning 'plant'). They are not rooted in the soil - they typically grow above the ground surface using another plant or object for support. They are not parasitic, only using the host plant or structure for support and they gather moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.
Some epiphytes include Bromeliads, Orchids, Lichens and some species of Ferns, Cacti and Succulents.
A prominent native Bromeliad of Florida is Spanish Moss. Everywhere I went, whether walking in the neighborhood or on a boat ride in a state park, I saw Spanish Moss draping the trees. It was gorgeous and mysterious at the same time.
I was so taken with these, I'm half thinking of trying to grow some in a terrarium. Have any of you done this with success? Which plants have you found work best?