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Decorate with Exotic Easy-Care Air Plants

Updated on December 1, 2014
Starfish and Air Plant in Glass Terrarium
Starfish and Air Plant in Glass Terrarium | Source

Tillandsia, the Amazing Air Plant - An Exotic Houseplant Even I Can Grow!

No green thumb, but your living space needs a little green plant life to achieve feng shui perfection? Try the Air Plant, Tillandsia!

There are hundreds of air plant varieties to choose from, and they're ridiculously easy to care for - give them the right growing conditions and they'll take care of themselves. Even here in the north, these epiphytes of southern US and Central and South America can thrive indoors - even for those of us who just can't grow houseplants!

I have great luck growing almost any plant outdoors in my garden, but indoors? Houseplants and I have a sad history... except for the indestructible Aloe Vera, spider plants, cactus, and the delightfully exotic little Tillisandia.

Air Plant Tillandsia loliacea
Air Plant Tillandsia loliacea | Source

Tiny Vignettes with Real Living Tillandsia Plants

Create your own little tiny landscape (I wonder, should that be "xericape" since watering is not required?) with fascinating air plants, an eye-catching container, and bits of natural materials to accent the green.

Air Plants in Miniature Glass Globe Terrariums

Air Plant Terrariums - Set of 3 Air Plant Teardrop Terrariums - 3 Complete Kits with glass terrariums, air plants, sand, starfish and seashells - Free Air Plant Care Ebook with every order
Air Plant Terrariums - Set of 3 Air Plant Teardrop Terrariums - 3 Complete Kits with glass terrariums, air plants, sand, starfish and seashells - Free Air Plant Care Ebook with every order

Or you might want to replace the starfish and other decorative bits with your own beach-combing treasures, to create a very personal souvenir of a beach honeymoon or special holiday on the ocean.

I like to hang a glass globe planter like this one in a bright window, but you can also slip them into empty spots on a bookcase or shelves for an eye-catching bit of nature in your decor, if that's what your feng shui is calling for.


When it comes to creating a decorative display or even a miniature landscape with your air plants, really the only limit is your own imagination! Almost any kind of shallow container will do to showcase your air plants, since they don't require any soil or watering in order to grow. You can be quite creative in choosing a display container.

Air Plants in Sea Urchins

Air Plant Triplets! Three Pink Sea Urchin with Air Plants on Board. GIFT BOXED! Great Gift Neat Houseplants By Hinterland Trading
Air Plant Triplets! Three Pink Sea Urchin with Air Plants on Board. GIFT BOXED! Great Gift Neat Houseplants By Hinterland Trading

Check out the adorable spiky little air plants, growing happily in their pale-pink-colored sea urchin shells - no potting soil required, so no mess or fuss. A fascinating hostess gift idea, or as table decoration or favors for a beach-theme wedding.


Air Plants in Seashells

Air Plant Tillandsia Brachycaulos Miniata with Nautilus Shell and Acrylic Stand
Air Plant Tillandsia Brachycaulos Miniata with Nautilus Shell and Acrylic Stand | Source

A friend brought me a seashell with a Tillandsia plant tucked into it, very similar to the one shown here - and wasn't that nice of her? - oh, it must have been almost 12 years ago now. I'd never seen an air plant, back then, but it came with a little card that said just to put the shell in a bright moist location and let it do its thing. No planting in soil, no watering... no trouble at all to take care of a Tillandsia! Mine didn't come with the clear acrylic stand that this one does, but no matter. The rich red colouring of the Brachycaulos Miniata variety is very striking when displayed in a shallow glass tray of black glass pebbles or a very simple porcelain trinket box.

Easy to Grow House Plant

Here's One Houseplant You Don't Need to Remember to Water!

My guest bathroom at the time was a bright room with two big south-facing windows, done in a beach theme all white-painted wicker and sandy-tan towels with blue accents, so it was easy to decide where to put the air plant.

The warm moist air from baths and showers and the bright indirect light were just right conditions for Tillandsia to grow in, as it takes moisture from the air. Every few weeks, when the weather was especially warm and dry, I popped the plant out of its seashell and dipped the roots in spring water.

My air plant was happy and healthy for a good couple of years, until - suddenly, just out of the blue - Jasper (the Smart Cat of whom I have written elsewhere) decided to start batting around the air plant and then take it apart. There is no accounting for the ideas that cats get into their heads...You'll be glad to know, luckily, air plants are not toxic to cats!

Air Plant Care Instructions: "Benign Neglect"

In fact, unless your home is very dry indoors, you may want to keep a close eye on any Tillandsia you're growing in a mostly-enclosed terrarium or glass globe. Moisture that builds up on the inside of the glass is a sure sign that the air plant is probably getting a little more humidity than it needs, and while that can be fine for a short time (like in the muggy days of late summer), you don't want that to be the permanent condition.

As I mentioned, air plants LOVE to be ignored, which is why they're the perfect houseplant for people who always forget to water houseplants - or to decorate your workplace, where they may be left alone on weekends and vacations. A little "benign neglect" is actually what the air plants seem to thrive on!

Several varieties of Tillandsia growing on driftwood.
Several varieties of Tillandsia growing on driftwood. | Source

One Tillandsia Air Plant Can Multiply

I'm not sure how long my first Tillandsia might have lived without the intervention of Jasper's paws and claws, but I understand they reproduce after their once-in-a-lifetime flowering and you can get a whole lot of babies or "pups" off your original plant, if you're reasonably lucky. I'm going to try this with the new Mexican air plant I just bought for my office terrarium.

Colorful Mexican Air Plants - Tillandsia Ionantha

Air Plants - Ionantha Mexican - 5 Air Plants - Great Price!
Air Plants - Ionantha Mexican - 5 Air Plants - Great Price!

How's this for a stunner? Mexican air plants start out green, but just wait for the explosion of colors when they burst into glorious bloom! As the plants mature and reproduce, they will grow together into a rather spectacular "Mexican ball" - or you can gently remove the "pups" to plant separately.


There are so many varieties of air plants, and most of them are very inexpensive, so it is tempting to build a full collection. Fascinating plants, really...

So, are you hooked on Air Plants yet?

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    • nobleknits profile image

      nobleknits 3 years ago

      Yes! Just bought three and love them!

    • ComfortsOfHome profile image

      ComfortsOfHome 4 years ago

      @Babu Mohan: My air plant did survive the first thirty or forty "cat attack" incidents, which I thought was pretty impressive. :)

    • Babu Mohan profile image

      Mohan Babu 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      I do have a garden but I have not tried an air plant so far. Sounds cool the way you have described it. Sad to know what Jasper did to your air plant. Did it survive the ordeal?

    • Jemjoseph profile image

      Jemjoseph 4 years ago

      Every time I see Air Plants I fall in love all over again, especially when they are displayed in sea urchin shells. The fact that these plants need no watering and almost no care makes them perfect for me since i love indoor plants but have had so much trouble maintaining them.

    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I love these plants. They grow wild in Florida where I used to live. They were very plentiful around the swamp areas. Nice lens!

    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      Thanks for sharing, I may have to invest into some of these plants

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 5 years ago

      These are awesome - much better looking than cactus too! :)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      At last! A solution to my black thumb. Thanks

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      They are very pretty. I don't have plants in my house only because my kitty eats them. I do like them however.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Love the photos and the air plants in the shells-think I will give it a try! :>)

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 5 years ago

      I love the shells, with Air Plants in them. I'm hooked, and they might even live for me! Seems I always give house plants, too little or too much water.