How to Create a Succulent or Air Plant Aerium
Feeling a little craftsy and up for a quick DIY project? How about if we told you this project is also easy to do and easy to maintain? Enter the Succulent — or Air Plant — Aerium! You can go as simple or as intricate and detailed as you want with this one, collecting interesting supplies and materials as you go. But our guess is that you already have many of the decorative elements already on hand — all you need to do is settle on your container and order your plants, and you’re ready to experiment.
Aerium vs. Terrarium
You might wonder what the difference is between an aerium and a terrarium. They are essentially the same thing, and in many cases people use these terms interchangeably. Terrariums often include soil for planting while aeriums typically don’t — but we’re going to talk about a way to include succulents with soil as well as soil-less air plants for this aerium DIY.
That being said, both aeriums and terrariums clear glass containers that are used as container plantings — and it’s that clear glass that not only allows adequate light in for the plant, but allows you to see all of the layers of materials you include as well. These decorative containers have no drainage holes like other types of planting containers do, so be sure to check out our maintenance tips at the end of this article for how to water properly! The last thing we want is a swimming aerium with plants floating around, right?
Types of Aeriums
Aeriums come in many different shapes and sizes, including teardrop, globe, square, and rectangle. There are subtle differences in design, though, that indicate how they are intended to be used or displayed:
Table aerium: Aeriums for tabletops or counters have flat bottoms so they sit safely on a flat surface without rolling, with openings for plants either on the top or on the front side.
Hanging aerium: Hanging aeriums typically have a curled glass “hook” at the top for hanging, and some also have the flat bottom so you have the option to display it on a tabletop as well. The openings for plants are almost always on the front side.
- Pocket aerium: These aeriums have flat backs with a hanger to attach to a vertical surface like a wall. Like the hanging aerium, they may also have a flat bottom, but like the table aerium, they could have an opening at the top or on the front.
How to Create A Succulent or Air Plant Aerium
The steps couldn’t be any easier, and you can start out with something quite minimal, enjoy that for a while, then add in other elements as inspiration hits.
- Clear glass container, either a repurposed one you have on hand or a specialized aerium for planting and display purposes
- Cacti/succulent soil (if you’re planning to add succulents)
- Succulents — small 2” or 4” pots work best
- Air plants — smaller air plant sizes are ideal (our 10 Plant Mix is perfect)
- Decorative items like mosses, colored sand, tiny statuary, aquarium glass, tiny pebbles, small shells, interesting sticks or small pieces of driftwood
- Tools for planting (if using succulents) like terrarium trowels or even chopsticks or tweezers to move materials around and place decorative objects
- Choose your clear glass container as well as your method for hanging or displaying it.
- If you’re using succulents, add a bit of the cacti/succulent soil to the bottom of the container, then carefully plant your succulent(s).
- If you are using air plants, start with a base layer of textural moss, colored sand, aquarium gravel, or tiny pebbles — then add your air plant(s) on top. For a minimalist look, skip the base layer and just pop in a larger air plant that fills the space and commands attention on its own!
To add interest to both succulent and air plant aeriums:
- Add different mosses (mood moss, sphagnum moss, reindeer moss, or Spanish moss) to contrast with the textures of the plants.
- Use layers of different colored pebbles or sand on the bottom, creating a striped effect, before adding air plants.
- Use taller items like sticks or driftwood to add dimension and height (it’s okay if they pop out of the top or front opening!).
- Finish with tiny elements like miniature statuary, tiny seashells, interesting rocks, or glittery crystals.
- Remember to keep maintenance in mind as you design — you don’t want to disrupt your creation too much when it’s time to water!
How to Maintain Your Aerium
For air plants, simply mist them with water (a small spray bottle is perfect) a couple of times per week, or carefully remove the air plants to soak them weekly. Make sure your air plants have time to dry after being soaked before you replace them into the aerium display.If you’ve planted succulents, you’ll want to water very sparingly to avoid rotting the plants — remember, aeriums have no drainage holes! Use an eyedropper to place an exact amount of water by the base of your succulent a couple of times per month.
Both succulent and air plant aeriums appreciate locations with bright indirect light — and if you notice that either type of plant is reaching for light, developing leggy growth, or declining in any way, do a quick check on your lighting situation and/or watering schedule. Sometimes a little experimenting is all that’s necessary to keep these delightfully artistic creations happy and thriving!
- Katie Elzer-Peters