If you're like me you love bringing the outdoors inside. Air plants are a fantastic way to do this. These resilient, easy-care plants don't need soil or rocks to live, nor do they need an exotic stand. In fact, you can easily make an air plant display of any style from practically anything you have on hand!
If you like beach style, you can just put your air plants in seashells for a gorgeous display. For someone who is aiming for a modern aesthetic, a wire spiral can make a stylish holder. Glass terrariums are available if you want to present your plants in a dust-free environment. If you're smart, you might be able to make holders with a macrame plant hanger and then hang the rope. But I like a more natural atmosphere, so I use driftwood, bark, moss-covered boards or other natural materials as holders.
Let's talk about what you will need to assemble and display your air plants. There are many ways to display them, but take the time to get creative. Air plants can be a creative, fun and easy-care home decor element in your home!
Good products from Amazon for Air Plant Displays:
Materials you will need
Doing an air plant display is easy!
There are a variety of different components that you will need for this project. Let me give you detailed tips on each item.
Selecting air plants
Of course, if you are making an air plant holder, you will need air plants!
I like to source my air plants first when planning a project like this. They like to live in a cereal bowl for a few days just as much as in a terrarium or in decorative planters. There are many types of air plants to choose from, as well as there are many ideas for displaying air plants. Look for the ones you will like!
Shortly before flowering, the tips of the leaves of Tillandsia ionantha turn pink. This is mounted on wire.
For this project I chose Tillandsia ionantha. This type of air plant is native to parts of Mexico, Costa Rica, and other parts of South America. These bromeliads are rootless plants that get most of their nutrients through their leaves. There is a wide range of varieties to choose from, each with a distinctive characteristic: as they prepare for flowering, the silvery-green hue of their succulent leaves usually changes to a vivid red-pink color at the tips. My selection of Tillandsia ionantha included varieties such as Fuego, Guatemala, Mexican, Ruba, and Scaposa.
How many plants you need to buy depends on the size of your display. If you want to save a little money on the go, buying several is often the best value. I picked a mixed dozen of the above varieties and waited for them to arrive to see how big they would get. You can find these online or order from an air plant nursery if you can't find them in your area.
When I got them, I carefully unwrapped them and put them on a table to get a feel for the size. I knew most of these would be 2-4 inches when I ordered, but when they arrived only one hit 4 inches; most of them were in the 2 ″ range. That gave me a good idea of how big a display would be if I combined them all together.
Rustic displays made of woody materials
Before deciding on plant placement, hang your display on the wall.
I knew I wanted a rustic ad. Driftwood was an option, but I didn't have time to go to the nearest beach to look for one so I opted for something a little more local. Since I live in the wine country, grape wood is easy to get from the region. This dense grapevine wood also twists into interesting shapes and often has many knots or holes from years of cutting. I knew this would be the perfect way to showcase my tillandsia plants.
If you like a natural look, but less of a vine, cork bark, such as the one sold in local aquarium or reptile enclosure pet stores, would also be a great DIY surface for showcasing air plants. Look for one with some deep nooks and crannies to tuck the bases into. Even an old, weathered frame can be used to mount plants as an indoor display.
Remember, these are mounted on something permanently; Look for something that can tolerate being soaked in water! While air plants don't need a lot of water, they do need something, and whatever you add needs to be able to get wet. Most of the time, you'll just spray them with a spray bottle, but from time to time they'll want more water to keep them nice. If you can't find something suitable that is waterproof, you may want to make wire holders for each individual plant so you can remove the plants for an occasional 20 minute soak every few weeks.
My grape wood, along with most of the twigs sold in pet stores for reptile cages, can get wet. So it's absolutely perfect for this purpose.
If you want to hang it on the wall, think about a hanging system for your display in advance. This allows you to properly plan the placement of the air plants.
Put a drop of E-6000 glue directly on the base of the plant.
You now mainly have your materials for your air plant holder. But how are you going to assemble them?
As mentioned above, if your item is not waterproof then you will need metal wire. A thick craft wire is fine. Try to avoid copper as it can discolor the base of your plant over time. A nickel or steel wire is great, as is aluminum. Choose a nice looking metal if you prefer something shiny, or consider a coated wire in a light color if it's a little more playful and fun.
If you are using wire, you will also need a drill bit, as well as a drill bit the same diameter as your wire. Pliers and wire cutters can also be very useful.
The only thing else you need is glue. There are two options that are safe for use in air systems. Both result in a somewhat flexible connection once the plants are attached, which allows for plant growth.
I recommend an industrial glue called E-6000; Their adhesive creates a permanent, waterproof connection that neither discolors nor fades over time. It can be a little tricky to find at times, so you may have to look for it in local stores. Alternatively, you can buy it online through Amazon.
Alternatively, hot glue is a very viable option, although you should be careful that it isn't hot enough to burn the base of your air plants. If you have the option to use low temperature glue sticks, do so.
String or rope can also be very useful during assembly, but are not absolutely necessary.
Create your air plant display
Gently push the plant into place and hold it there.
If you haven't already done so, consider how you would like to hang it when it is on a wall. If you are putting this on a table or shelf, make sure it doesn't wobble on the surface it stands on, as wobbling can damage your plants. Sanding flat parts to create a flush, even surface works well.
Prepare your plants too. Remove any loose leaves and make sure the base of each air plant is exposed. Soak the plants in water for 20 minutes to plump them up completely, then allow them to air dry.
Once the plants are dry, put your display where it will be home later. Now is the time to figure out what you want it to look like when it's done. Put the plants on your driftwood or rustic bark. Take the time to inspect every nook and cranny, swapping out plants here and there until you find an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. Remember, this is an indoor garden and you want it to look nice in your space!
When you have determined where each plant will be permanently, remove the cap from your E-6000 or heat up your glue gun. When using a glue gun, place a large clump on your display where you want to place a single plant. When using E-6000, place the blob directly on the base of the Tillandsia ionantha. Since this plant has no roots, it needs glue to anchor it in place. Try not to get the glue on the leaves themselves, as leaves can fall off as the plant continues to grow. This will eventually be a form of living.
Use string to hold the plant loosely in place. Let the glue dry before removing the yarn.
Gently press your tillandsia in place, applying just enough pressure to make sure it is in full contact. If you are using the E-6000 you can use a piece of string to tie it down, but be careful not to damage the leaves. Hot glue usually sticks within a few seconds, but you'll want to put some pressure on the E-6000 until it hardens completely.
Repeat this process for one air plant at a time, making sure you take the time to rotate them in the right direction to highlight the best features or shapes of each plant. If one fits perfectly into a curved part of the driftwood, or its base is the perfect size to fit into a knothole, consider placing it there. They aim for a natural look, as if it were where you could find it in the wild.
If your air plant display can't stay in the water long, break this wire out. Start with a spiral cone shape that perfectly fits the base of one of your air plants and supports its weight. Then leave enough wire to create a stem that you can use to mount it. Take a look at your air plant display and find out where to place this plant. Then, using a drill bit the same diameter as your wire, drill a shallow hole in the plant display. Fill the hole with glue, then push the stem of the wire into place. You can then take your plants off the wire for regular soaking!
Maintaining your air plant display
Notches or knotholes in the display are good points of attachment.
Now that your air plants are safe, daily maintenance is easy.
When you hang them up, remove your plant hanger from the wall or ceiling every day or two and give each plant a squirt with a spray bottle. Every two weeks or so, soak the entire display (or just the plants, if you've opted for a wire setting) in room temperature water for 20 minutes to allow the plants to bloom. Once a month, like an airplant-specific fertilizer that is dissolved in water, air plants are sprayed on in place of their normal mist to give them a little boost. Let the air plant display dry before hanging it on the wall again.
You can have an entire garden of silver-green air plants in a small space. And even better: you create it according to your specifications. No soil is ever needed, so you don't have to worry about planters or your pets spilling soil all over the place. You can even mount these on rocks or hang them upside down in shells for a living "Tillandsia Octopus" ornament that makes a great, adorable and unique gift.
No matter how you stage your air plants, whether hanging or stationary, in glass terrariums or on grape wood, it is very easy to bring a little more life into your home!
The green fingers behind this article: