By Nikky F. Necessario

Want to surround your home with eye-catching plants that are low-maintenance? Air plants may be for you! Mary Jennivie Dela Cruz of My Piece of Earth shared some techniques on how  to use Tillandsias (a type of air plant) as home decor. She sells air plants, potted succulents, and cacti. She also collects Tillandsias, anthuriums, cacti, and succulents, among other plants.

Tillandsias are air plants which means they do not need soil to survive. According to Dela Cruz, air plants only need three things to thrive: bright light, proper watering, and good air ventilation. The plants should be exposed to direct morning sunlight and must be sprayed dripping wet at least once a month.

Since Tillandsias do not need soil, it is not hard to play with them as home decors. Dela Cruz likes to find ceramic containers in surplus and thrift stores. She looks for vessels with faces and uses Tillandsias as hair for the ceramics. The plant collector also mentioned using clay pot for air plants because it comes in different shapes and colors.

Clay pots are also good vessels for air plants because these containers are made from porous materials. She suggested using Tillandsia cyanea or pink quill plants for clay pots. This particular air plant needs plenty of water, so lining the pot with coco fiber or coco husk is advised for water absorption. Pink quill plants bear purple flowers that smell fragrant at night. Instead of putting other flowers or orchids, Tillandsias with long leaves such as Tillandsia juncea will look good in tall vases. Teapots can also be home to air plants.

Using a framed wire mesh is another creative way to play with air plants. ‘Pups,’ or offset air plants, are pinned by a Tilly Tucker or industrial glue to the wire mesh. It is important to ensure that the wire is rust-free or else it might wilt the plant. Do not directly put glue on the base of the plants because they need air ventilation. Air plants like Tillandsia ‘cotton candy’ can also be used to decorate wreaths, particularly during the Christmas season. It must be noted that for these plants to look good and natural on a wreath, they should be positioned in odd numbers, a rule that bonsai and ikebana masters follow. Seashells are also used to hold air plants such as the candle-like Tillandsia ionanthas. 

Creating home decor with air plants can serve as a bonding activity for families, partners, and the like. And other than being a fun leisure activity, it can also be a source of extra income for creative people. “Making air plants as home decor is limitless. The only limit is your imagination,” said Dela Cruz. So what are you waiting for? Grab some of your mom’s old vases or those shells that you picked up from beach trips and mix and match it with Tillandsias from the garden shop near you.

Dela Cruz gave her talk “ArteKultura: Tillandsias and Bromeliads as Home Decor” at the Agriculture Monthly’s Cactus, Succulent, and Bromeliad Festival held last month at the Main Mall Atrium of SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.