Air Plants - Tillandsia

In this section: Mounting & attaching Air Plants / Tillandsia suitable for terrariums & vivariums.

Mounting Air Plants

OK so you go out one day, and while wondering around somewhere you see some Air Plants. You go over and take a look at all these strange looking plants, just sat there growing in thin air. As you're looking at them you see a plant that cries out to you "Take me home with you please !! ", so being the kind hearted person that you are, you hand over the money and walk away with your new friend. You get home, take it out of it's bag, hold it up and admire you new prized plant. Now what are you going to do with it ? This is where the fun starts.

Planting your Tillandsia

NEVER 'plant' your Tillandsia, putting a Tillandsia in soil is almost certain death to your plant. If you want it in a pot to look like a normal plant and you need to add some weight to stop it falling over, use gravel, pebbles or any other medium that drains rapidly. If your plant is placed in anything that holds water or moisture and doesn't dry out between waterings it will ROT!!! ................... This is not a good thing !!!

Mounting your Tillandsia

Tillandsias can be grown basically anywhere, on rocks, in a seashell or on coral, in ceramic or pottery, attached to wood (not pressure treated wood this is impregnated with copper, and copper will kill your plant). Pin them on your curtains, make a wreath, attach to velcro and stick them on your mirror, attach them to a piece of wood and hang the wood in your tree (that way you can bring your plant in when its going to freeze). Glue onto a pebble or decorative stone, attach to magnets, hang on your front door, attach them to a piece of lattice so they can be hung indoors or outdoors, put them in terrariums (great decorations for use with lizards, snakes etc.). About the only limit is your imagination (with a few exceptions).

When considering what you are going to do with your plant don't forget that you have to be able to water it and it has to be placed somewhere that it will get sufficient light. Also if you have a young plant it is going to grow, hopefully, so don't mount it on something that will be too small for it when it has grown to full size.

Don't rush into mounting your plant, take some time to figure out just what to do with it, your plant will be quite happy just sat on your kitchen counter until you make up your mind (if you ever do).

Many Tillandsia grown just hanging from a wooden peg or piece of fishing line will eventually form spheres in a few years, and look spectacular grown this way, and will only have to be separated when the center eventually falls apart. Tillandsias will grow in any direction, they do not need to be grown upright like most other plants, you want it hanging sideways fine, at an angle fine, you even see them growing naturally upside down, so whichever way you pick your plant will grow. The options are endless, all it requires is imagination.

If attaching to ocean driftwood, soak the wood for several weeks to remove the salt residue, too much salt will damage your plants and cause tip die back. Good woods resistant to decay are cedar, manzanita or grape. Cork bark and tree fern are also good choices.

Try not to put Tillandsias in containers that hold water, they need to dry out. If you do place your plant in something that holds water, empty out the excess after watering your plant. The same thing applies when mounting your plant on something, try to place your plant on a high point rather than in a hollow.

A lot of people mount Tillandsia on small decorative fountains and waterfalls, if you intend to do this make sure that the plants is not going to be getting splashed with water all the time.

The moss you see on air plants in stores is cosmetic only, and is normally just used to hide glues and staples. It is detrimental to your plant, do not use it, it holds too much moisture at the base of the plant.

If your plant has roots on it and they are in your way, or they just look unsightly, you can cut them off. Tillandsias only use there roots as anchors to hold on with, you will not harm the plant in any way by removing them, it may or may not regrow them.

Just in case you haven't noticed there is one thing that keeps coming up in the tips on mounting your Tillandsia. Whatever you do with your plant make sure it is going to be able to dry out totally after you have watered it. Tillandsia hate to have wet feet all the time.

Attaching your Plant

You can use glue, wire, fishing line, twisty ties, nails or staples.

We use E6000 glue as it is waterproof and dries clear, but you can use any kind of glue you like (except SUPERGLUE) a plumbers glue is generally better because it is waterproof and doesn't break down, hot glue and liquid nails tend to give way after a while because of constantly getting wet, Goop, Shoe Goo and Tilly Tacker are completely waterproof, and will not let go. When using glue, only use enough to hold the plant where you want it.

If using wire, make sure you don't use copper wire unless it's got a plastic coating (copper kills Tillandsia).

Nails and staples can only be used on plants with a woody stolon or with sufficient roots, nailing or stapling through the growing part of a plant would kill it.

Tillandsia in the terrarium / vivarium

Make sure you have a least one open (mesh) side to your terrarium to provide adequate air circulation. The only problems generally encountered with terrarium growth, is bad air flow, or conditions too wet for the plants. Remember Tillandsia need to dry out completely in between waterings. Some of these species grow large, be aware of this when picking you plant.

Tillandsias suitable for use in terrariums and vivariums :-

Abdita Albida Brachycaulos Bulbosa Concolor
Duratii Flabellata Funckiana Geminiflora Harrisii
Hondurensis Ionantha Ixioides Juncea Stolonifera Latifolia
Mitlaensis Neglecta Paleacea Pseudobaileyi Purpurea
Stricta Tricolor

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Tillandsia Ionantha