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More Air Plants

Originally published at The Suburban Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Air plants, or Tillandsia, are plants that do not require roots or soil.  They absorb moisture through their leaves, so any watering requirements are generally limited to a gentle misting once or twice a week.  Any roots they do grow act as anchors to other items.

For my two projects, I used 6 plants.  In this article I will outline how to care for air plants, what to expect with pups, and how I assembled a small air plant container garden.

Air plants absorb water through their leaves.  The “pores” of their leaves open up when they start to dry out, and stay open until they absorb enough water.  Once they’ve met their water requirements, the “pores” close up again, to keep the plant from becoming water logged.  Because of this, it is almost impossible to over-water these little guys.

Mist your air plants once a week with a spray bottle.  If your house is particularly dry (such as times of year when the air conditioner is run frequently) you may want to mist them twice a week.

If your plants are not secured to anything, you can also submerse your plants in water for an hour every week or two.

You may want to leave lids off of air plant containers unless you’re displaying them, for two reasons.  First, if you have just watered them, the lid can trap the humidity in.  If the air plants have already absorbed all the water they need, the rest just sits there and may get mouldy.  Second, if you have not watered them in a while, they can’t get any ambient moisture from the air.

When your air plants get bigger, they will produce pups (anywhere from 4-10).  Often, the plant will flower before and during pup production.  Then, like many from the Bromeliad family, the parent plant will die.

- Air Plants
- Waterproof container
- Sand, Wood, Rocks or other material to attach plants to
- Decorative items (optional)
- Spray bottle with mist setting

I picked up a couple of air plants at a local nursery (Richmond Nursery), but they are hard to come by at the local garden centres.  So I ended up ordering 10 of them online from a seller through Etsy.  They were shipped from California to Ontario, regular post, and it took about 2 weeks.

All the other materials I used (glass bowl, sand, shells) I picked up at the local Michaels craft store.  The sticks were found outside.  All the materials, not including the plants, cost less than $25.


To create the line effect with the sand, I tilted the bowl, and poured the sand in one layer at a time, sliding it down to the lower end with my hands after each layer.  This is tricky and can also be done using a sheet of paper to separate the sand.  Just be sure your container is clean and dry before you begin.

Next, I placed the sticks and plants into the container.  I tried not to make it look too symmetrical, to give it a bit more of a natural feel.  Once those were in place, I added some small shells around it – I was going for an East coast artisan feel.


Here are a few shots of the finished product:

You can do so much with these little plants!  Here are just a few other ideas for your air plants.  Some may require using a bit of craft wire.
- mount on driftwood
- make an air plant topiary
- put them in hanging glass jars or lanterns
-  make an air plant wall hanging
-  use an old fish bowl
- put pups in tiny jars
- make air plant jewelry