Shortly after we moved into our house last November, a package arrived. Addressed to me, I carefully opened the brown cardboard and inside was a gorgeous oblong hanging terrarium, the strangest plant I’d ever seen, and various terrarium filling bits. It was from Untangled Collective and after seeing the shipping city, I knew it could only be a gift from my sister, Jordan.
After a quick phone call to thank her (and to find out what in the WORLD this plant was), I put the terrarium together, put the air plant in its place, and I was smitten! And now, 6 months + 1 dead and replaced air plant later, I continue to be enamoured with my air plant terrarium.
What ARE Air Plants?
According to Google Dictionary, air plants are:
a typically epiphytic, sometimes rootless, tropical American plant with grasslike or fingerlike leaves through which water and airborne or waterborne nutrients are absorbed.
… and yes, I had to look up epiphytic also. Epiphytic means a plant that grows on another plant (without harming it) and gets all of it’s nutrients from the air surrounding it.
So, in essence, an air plant typically has no roots and gets everything it needs from the air around it. Because it’s a tropical, it likes high humidity which totally makes sense granted its means of sustaining itself.
How to Care for Air Plants
There are several varieties of air plants (tillandsia, typically) so I’m sure there are minor differences when caring for them. However, in general, air plants are super easy. I do think that specific care is determined by your environment also. As I noted, I killed my first air plant by following directions included in my terrarium kit… more on that in a minute!
Air Plant Lighting Needs
Air plants thrive in bright light. I haven’t experimented with my air plants in direct light, but if I were going to I’d make sure it was soft morning light instead of harsh afternoon sun. I’ve burned many “sun loving” plants by displaying them in my western facing windows.
Currently, my air plants are sitting in a spot that receives lots of indirect afternoon sun, and they’re thriving!
Air Plant Watering Needs
So… no roots. Hmph. How to water? As I mentioned, my first air plant was killed, and looking back I’m 100% positive it was a watering issue. The directions I received with my package stated that I could either dunk the plant once per week, or spritz it daily. Because I spritz my plants daily anyway, I thought this would be the best method for water delivery.
Each morning, I took the air plant out of its terrarium, spritzed it all over with water, and let it dry until the afternoon. I did this faithfully until my air plant was no more. I think the reason my plant didn’t work with the spritzing method is because I live in a very dry environment. My house is a faithful 16% humidity – very low.
When I finally found air plants at my local Target (buy them online here – CHEAP!) I scooped up a couple and brought them home with me – eager to make them work! Instead of the daily spritzing, I decided to do a weekly bath. So, on watering day, I fill up my watering can with room temperature water, and I toss in my tillandsia Ionantha (my specific air plants) for one hour.
Once the hour is up, I remove them from the water, and place them on a paper towel to dry out before returning them to their terrarium home.
IMPORTANT: Don’t water your air plants inside their terrarium (even with a spritzing method). Water inside the terrarium will likely produce mold over time. Always wait until plants are dry to return.
How to Display Air Plants
There is no end to how you display air plants. They don’t need a terrarium to live, you can literally put them anywhere. There is no end to the number of ways you can display air plants. Stick them anywhere. I really love them in a simple terrarium, though. Here’s how you can easily make your own air plant display:
- Get an air plant!
- Find a simple terrarium, like this one.
- Add some sand to the bottom of your terrarium. It’s best if you use sand that’s not immediately from the earth for microbial reasons. These come in really fun colors!
- Add some dimension with a stone, or two. (You can buy a bag of stones for $1 at The Dollar Tree!)
- If you dare, add in a little toy figurine for some fun. You don’t really need to buy one, just raid your kid’s toybox. Ha!
Air plants are fantastic for beginners, and they add a really creative touch to any home space. The best thing about displaying air plants is that you can tailor it to fit your style completely!