There’s something about tillandsias that makes my heart sing. Even just saying the word is fun. Maybe its due to their seemingly endless array of colors, shapes and textures. Maybe its because of their somewhat freaky appearance. Or maybe its because they’re one of the easiest ways to make a really creative statement in your home.
Actually, for me it’s all of the above – plus the fact that I’m a sucker for anything that asks so little from me. I’ve got enough in my life demanding my attention and the last thing I need is a fussy, high-maintenance houseplant!
Tillandsias (more commonly known as Air Plants) are actually in the bromeliad family, and those roots you see aren’t really roots at all, but rather ‘hooks’ that allow them to grip onto things. They get their nutrients and water from moisture in the air, not from soil in the ground.
While they don’t ask for much, they do have a few requirements. One is that it stays above freezing – easy enough to do when they’re placed inside my home.
And while they appreciate bright light, definitely keep them out of direct sunlight.
Another is that they get a weekly misting of water. In my dry California climate, I take it one step further and give them a really good soaking once every 10 days or so. I just plunge them into a bowl of water and leave them for a few hours. Every few months I’ll also feed them with a light dose of liquid fertilizer.
After their bath, I drain them upside down in my dish drainer. They really don’t want to have their crowns wet or they’ll start to rot, so upside down drainage is essential.
Oh, and one more reason why they’re such great houseplants is the fact that most varieties will graciously give you their babies!
Similar to succulents, air plants will produce offshoots, or pups that you can gently pull off and reuse elsewhere.
Could it get any better?
Here’s a few of my favorites that I have sprinkled throughout my home.
This tallandsia xerigraphica is one of my all-time favorite big boys. It’s thick and leathery foliage gently swirls around forming a hefty (and satisfying to hold) clump of extra-terrestrial beauty.
For most of the year, its primary residence is in this shallow bowl filled with tumbled glass. We found this glass many, many years ago in an abandoned dumping ground in the middle of a Lake Tahoe forest. The broken glass sat there in big bucket in our garage for over 10 years until my husband finally figured out what to do with it. He bought a rock tumbler – and the rest is history.
Since lavender colored glass seems more like spring than it does Christmas, I usually end up moving this air plant to a mercury glass bowl once December arrives.
I like how the elegant bowl elevates (both literally and metaphorically) this unusual plant.My fireplace mantle is home to these tillandsias. I love how the extreme shapes of their foliage complement the highly-textural containers. It’s a pretty dynamic combination, don’t you think?
I bought these containers in Mexico a few years ago and immediately knew what I would do with them. The shop owner must’ve told me a dozen times ‘you know they won’t hold water, right?’ Even though I reassured her that I understood what she was saying, she wasn’t convinced.These air plants have happily lived in my family room for several years. I found this glass terrarium covered with dust and dirt on a ‘everything must go’ discount table (can you believe it?) and again, immediately knew what I would put in them.
I wasn’t sure if they’d be okay living enclosed like this, but clearly they are.
I like to use stones in different colors and sizes to help highlight each air plant’s unique qualities.In my office lives one of my favorite air plants of all – tallandsia tectorum. When I first saw this pricey little gem sitting in the florist shop I thought it must be fake – flocked with the white stuff that covered our 1960′s Christmas trees.
When I was promised that this was, indeed, real I just had to have it. It’s gorgeous, soft and furry, and part of me can’t help but treat it like a pet!
Since it looks a little like something you’d find deep in the ocean, I’ve placed it with my other favorite things to collect – sea shells. Don’t even get me started with my sea shell obsession.
Also in my office, are these sweet little glass containers filled with tiny, colorful glass and pebbles. While in Los Angeles last summer, I bought them at Potted, and their small sizes are just perfect for my old, narrow windowsill.
And on the next windowsill over are a group of tiny little pottery crocks that I’ve had for decades. I never knew what to do with them until my air plants started having babies.
Now they’re an ideal spot to create a tillandsia pyramid.Meet Lozano.
Not the air plant, but the little guy who lives inside. My daughter found him at our local carwash (named – you guessed it – Lozano’s) and lo and behold here he is, watching over me as I do the nightly dishes.
I especially love this teardrop terrarium from Lila B. Design, which is one of my favorite floral design/goodies shop ever. I’m particularly fond of the cool base that she sells, allowing it to rest securely on a counter (it’s not always easy finding a spot to hang these sorts of things).
I love the wary yet determined look on his face as he’s discovering new lands….
Oh wow. I didn’t realize I have so many air plants in my home! Oh well, at least I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing just how much fun you can have with these little easy going beauties.
And since its now clear to me that I have some sort of obsession with these plants, I’d love to know how any of you might display them in your home!