All the rage among consumers, these fascinating and versatile plants offer unlimited creative design opportunities.
Floral design, photography and text by Nita Robertson, AIFD, CFD
Air plants (Tillandsia) are some of the most versatile, fascinating plants and low-maintenance plants in the entire kingdom Plantae, and consumers are wild about them. They do not need soil to live—in fact, they cannot grow in soil; they are epiphytes, meaning that instead of rooting in the ground or in soil, they anchor themselves to other plants—often tree trunks and branches—without being parasitic or causing harm to the host plants. Air plants have specialized cells, called trichomes, that cover their leaves and absorb the water and nutrients they need from the air.
Air-plant displays on gnarled wood and tree bark have become incredibly popular in recent years. Grapevine wood; ghostwood (dead timber or roots of coniferous evergreen trees, often pine, juniper or cedar); ocean driftwood; manzanita; and wood slabs are common choices. For this design, I chose an interesting piece of grapevine wood, which could easily sit on a tabletop or other surface, hang on a wall or even be suspended in midair. There are infinite creative design opportunities with these types of designs, so let you imagination go wild!
CARE TIP: Water the air plants in this design by misting them with water twice a week or so, depending on the humidity and temperature in the room in which the design will be placed. Advise customers to do the same.
STEP BY STEP
Plan the placement of the air plants on the grapevine wood. Choose holes, indentations or crooks in the wood in which the air plants will not only look good but also can be nestled into, for security.
Make sure the air plants are completely dry, and then apply a small amount of liquid floral adhesive to the base or backside of each plant. (Do not use hot-glue because it can injure the plants.) Hold each air plant in place for five to 10 seconds— or longer, if needed—until the glue becomes firm enough to adhere each plant in its spot.
Glue bits and pieces of chartreuse reindeer moss randomly onto the grapevine wood and into some of the crevices with liquid floral adhesive. If necessary, use a tool like needle-nose pliers to wedge the moss into crevices.
Add final touches to the design to further elevate its appeal. Natural elements are best; I chose spruce cones, but another option is small dried flowers.
• Tillandsia spp. (air plant)
• Cladonia rangiferina (reindeer moss, reindeer lichen, caribou moss)
• Picea spp. (spruce cone)
• Vitis vinifera (grapevine wood)
• Fitz Design Clear Floral Adhesive