I love tillandsias, commonly known as air plants or tillys, and have been using them in creative designs for years. A plant that grows without soil … what’s up with that?!
Various air plant creations graced my front porch when I lived in Santa Barbara. Growing them in that temperate climate just 7 blocks from the beach made it easy. I now live in the Sonoran Desert so it seems fitting that I would create an air plant display on cholla wood.
When in Rome after all – I used to collect driftwood on the beaches of California and now it’s desert wood in Arizona. Growing air plants here is a challenge so I decided it best to consolidate them and make the maintenance easier.
More on growing air plants in the desert coming up in a future post. I originally had them scattered here and there all growing outdoors in the shade. In November I piled them on a tray because they were starting to look a bit dried out.
This is no way to display air plants!
I was inspired by the Japanese art of kokedama to wrap the stems and roots of my air plants in moss. In my mind this will up the ante on the moisture factor when those hot summer days roll around. Time will tell if it’s effective at all but I think it looks good. In the very least, it’ll be easier to water and spray my tillandsia babies with them all in a row.
At my work table creating this air plant & cholla wood masterpiece:
This project is easy to do. It’s just a matter of wrapping the air plants in moss and then laying out them out on the cholla wood in a manner that is visually appealing to you. I was deciding on whether to use the vine wrapped wire or the gold aluminum wire but went with 1st option. For this project, I prefer the more natural look.
An assortment of Air Plants.
4′ piece of Cholla Wood, collected by moi on 1 of my desert walks.
Fishing line (or sewing thread will work fine too).
Scissors, wire cutters & needle nose pliers.
The steps are short & sweet:
1-Wet the moss to make it pliable.
2-Wrap the stem & roots of the Air Plants with the moss. Chris-cross tie the moss bundles (I can’t call them moss balls because they’re more like moss blobs!) with fishing line to secure.
2 smaller tillys wrapped in 1 bundle.
All the bundles ready to go.
3- Attach the Air Plant bundles to the cholla wood using the vine wrapped wire.
The vine wrapped wire is thick so I find that needle nose pliers are great for securing it tightly & curly-cuing the ends.
I’m going to hang this living piece of art on a wall on my side patio. During these cooler months I spray or water my air plants once or twice a week. When it heats up here in Tucson I’ll need to water them every day – by that I mean wet the air plants and soak each bundle using my little watering can. I love how this piece looks, and to me, it’s well worth the effort.
Yes, air plants are fun to play with and can be used in so many ways. Kids find them fascinating and it’s a great way to introduce them to the world of horticulture. We love them so much that we aligned with a grower in the Santa Barbara area and sell their air plants. These epiphytic beauties come straight from the greenhouse to you. Don’t you want some air plants to create with too?!