Create an air plant "living art sculpture" for the home
Holding a Tillandsia xerographica, which can get quite large in its native habitat. 

Holding a Tillandsia xerographica, which can get quite large in its native habitat. 

I had been walking down my street in Brooklyn and spied a pretty old, beautiful piece of scrap wood outside a construction zone. Admittedly I walked by it several dozen times over the course of two months before I finally picked it up. It's funny, really, because as soon as I saw it I thought what a wonderful piece of wood it would be for an air plant sculpture. Additionally it already had two hooks in the wood for hanging; can't believe I nearly passed up such a perfect piece for the home! 

I was a little late to the Tillandsia (air plant) game. They didn't particularly interest me as much as some other plants, so it wasn't until I had quite a vast collection of root-bound soil plants, that I began to acquire air plants.

Tillandsia are often displayed, housed in glass bulbs. This isn't just for aesthetics; Tillandsia prefer humid environments and the glass bulbs help to keep humidity levels higher around the plant. In their natural habitat, they are often found in the crooks and crotches of trees, like shown below, so I figured the slab of wood I had just scavenged, would be an appropriate habitat for a homebound-Tillandsia.  Here's how I did it.

Tillandsia xerographica growing in its native habitat. Notice how they just plant themselves right on the tree branches. 

Tillandsia xerographica growing in its native habitat. Notice how they just plant themselves right on the tree branches. 


I often draw or sketch a DIY project out first just to get a sense as to how it'll look, even if it's a small project. This was the sketched Tillandsia living art piece before we started the build out.

I often draw or sketch a DIY project out first just to get a sense as to how it'll look, even if it's a small project. This was the sketched Tillandsia living art piece before we started the build out.

 Tools

  • flat piece of wood 
  • pencil 
  • Tillandsia specimens of choice
  • measuring tape
  • electric drill with various drill bit sizes
  • rope or twine (for wrapping Tillandsia)
  • chain or heavy rope for hanging wood
  • mounting materials (if needed)

Directions

  1. Firstly, I chose eleven air plants for the size of the wood, and took a pencil and lightly marked where I would place each one.
  2. Next, I measured the bottom of each air plant because you essentially want to drill the hole around the same size of the base of the air plant, with the idea that the air plant would sit nestled into the hole. Any air plant that is heavy, like the larger Tillandsia xerographica, pictured, can be wrapped in twine and tied to another one in back.
  3. Take your drill and appropriate drill bit size and begin drilling holes in the wood, being careful not to splinter the wood. 
  4. If you're going to hang the wood, screw in hooks into the top or back of the wood for hanging. This piece of wood already had two hooks, so I just used a thick rope to hang above my closet garden.
Use an electric drill with an appropriate drill bit size for the size of the base of your air plants. If you drill too big of a hole for a small air plant, you'll risk the air plant falling through.

Use an electric drill with an appropriate drill bit size for the size of the base of your air plants. If you drill too big of a hole for a small air plant, you'll risk the air plant falling through.

I drilled a larger hole for this Tillandsia xerographica. This particular specimen, however, was so big that I eventually decided t replace him with a smaller specimen. 

I drilled a larger hole for this Tillandsia xerographica. This particular specimen, however, was so big that I eventually decided t replace him with a smaller specimen. 

Just some of the materials that I used to create this simple, DIY air plant sculpture: Twine, wood, and air plants—of course!

Just some of the materials that I used to create this simple, DIY air plant sculpture: Twine, wood, and air plants—of course!

tillandsia-plants.jpg
As with a lot of my DIY projects, I often sketch out (lower right) the idea first, just so that I have a visual reference to work from. 

As with a lot of my DIY projects, I often sketch out (lower right) the idea first, just so that I have a visual reference to work from. 

Voila! The finished air plant sculpture, which I eventually hung right above my closet garden. 

Voila! The finished air plant sculpture, which I eventually hung right above my closet garden. 

Tillandsia care

This may seem to be a hassle for some, but I spray my Tillandsia around 2-3 times a week, to keep up the humidity, and in the summer months will take the sculpture down every week and "dunk" my Tillandsia in water for about 30-45 minutes. Note that you should let them dry out well or they'll rot on you! 🌿