Get Crafty With Air Plants
If you’ve fallen in love with air plants (or tillandsias as they are formally called), join the club! These exotic, often alien-looking plants have become the darling of houseplant gardeners, interior decorators, and floral arrangers in recent years because of their architectural forms, brilliant blooms, and easygoing ways.
If you’re just getting started with air plants (congratulations!), we recommend starting with our blog post How to Grow and Care for Air Plants — and once you understand their slightly different care requirements, you can unleash your creative genius in your own décor. But just in case you need a little inspiration, we’ve collected a few of our favorite air plant projects for you.
Start with Maintenance in Mind
Because air plants are not watered like traditional houseplants, you must either commit to misting them or submerging them in water (or a combination of the two). This unusual watering method can dictate the type of project you undertake, so please keep that in mind as your creative juices get flowing:
- Mounted air plants (on driftwood, for example) should be misted or quickly dunked in water, not soaked. Soaking can lead to rotting of your base material and quickly destroy your display.
- Bulbous air plants like (Tillandia bulbosa beliz, Tillandsia caput medusae) grow best when attached or mounted upside down or horizontally to avoid capturing water in the base of the plant.
- Air plants that are in terrariums or popped into shells, cups, or displayed without mounting techniques can be easily removed and dunked or soaked.
Supplies for Air Plant Crafting
- Plant-safe glue (E6000): This type of glue is waterproof, ideal for mounting if you plan to dunk or regularly mist your air plant display. Apply glue at the base of your air plants, avoiding the leaves altogether.
- Hot glue gun: Hot glue is not preferable to the plant-safe glue above because it’s not waterproof and simply won’t be as durable, but it’s an acceptable method in a pinch.
- Monofilament (fishing line): Fishing line is ideal for tying air plants to a wreath, a piece of driftwood, or another display base. It disappears in the display and is easily covered with moss or other botanical elements.
- Wire: Wire is perfect for wrapping and attaching to display bases, as long as it’s not copper (toxic to air plants).
Crafty Ideas with Air Plants
Now that we have the pesky but necessary practicalities out of the way, let’s have a little fun, shall we? The versatility of air plants is truly mind-boggling, and once your brain has begun to percolate, we bet those ideas just keep on coming! Here are our favorite DIY projects using air plants — and for those of you who are not gifted with the glue gun, we invite you to peruse our collection of air plant gifts, complete with their own quirky containers.
Terrariums: The sky’s the limit with air plant terrariums provided you raise your hand and swear to only use open terrariums. That means no closed or lidded terrariums that impede air plants’ need for air circulation. Use mosses, shells, sticks, tiny figurines, or fairy lights to accentuate the architectural shape of your air plants and create a mini masterpiece.
Air Plant Frames: These little and big living works of art start with a picture frame (simple or ornate, it’s up to you) and various botanicals including air plants, succulents, dried flowers, and moss. Remove the glass from the frame and carefully arrange and glue your materials artfully in place using one of the glue options recommended in the previous section. The goal is to fill the frame so you cannot see the backing, using a variety of textures, shapes, and forms.
Air Plant Curtains: This is taking vertical gardening to a whole new level. Attach your air plants at random intervals using wire or fishing line and hang from the ceiling or horizontal support frame. Air plant curtains make a dramatic wedding backdrop or a noteworthy addition to any room, indoors or out.
Bouquets: Both small and large air plants can be wired into a wedding bouquet, or even into the groom’s boutonniere, for a quirky and artsy touch. They blend beautifully with dried and fresh flowers, or simply make a statement on their own.
Wreaths: Air plants can be wired or tied onto wreath forms like grapevine to create a welcoming and unusual piece of art for your front door. Combine with other botanicals like dried flowers or packaged moss, and always be aware of the amount of sunshine your door receives — remember, most air plants love bright, indirect light, and full sunshine will simply be too harsh.
- Natural Containers: By “natural,” we mean items like driftwood, seashells, logs, sticks, or even small wooden pots. You can mount air plants onto larger pieces, or simply pop small individual air plants into a display piece like a shell, no glue or wire required.
- Katie Elzer-Peters