An air plant terrarium differs from ordinary terrariums in two major ways. First, it does not need soil and second, it should not be in closed spaces for it needs good air circulation to thrive. Air plants otherwise known as Tillandsia, come from the Bromeliad family. They are epiphytes or plants that use something for support. In nature, they use trees and rocks. Their roots get nutrients from the air or rain through their leaves, instead of acquiring them from the soil. The three key ingredients they need are sun, water, and air circulation. This is what an air plant terrarium tries to achieve. Learn how you can make your air plant terrarium here.
- Gather your supplies
· Vessel: Choose a good container for your terrarium. The most common options are glass globes that can hang or sit, glass bowls, metal-framed terrariums, and mason jars. They come in different styles and sizes, but the common thing is that they are clear enough for light to pass through. The most important factors when selecting a vessel are airflow and light. The container should allow good air circulation and it does not restrict the amount of light your plant receives. Thus, a glass, open-top, or side container is a good choice. You can repurpose old Mason jars or glass bowls or order your choice terrarium online. If you prefer a hanging terrarium, you will love the kits offered online which are complete with ropes and hooks.
· Air plants: Air plants grow in different sizes so choose depending on the size of your container. It is safe to start with 1 plant then just add more later if the space allows. Good varieties for terrarium are funkiana, loliacea, and stricta.
· Base: There are many options for the base, including decorative sand, pebbles, small rocks, preserved reindeer moss, seashells, marbles, and bark. Choose a lightweight base that does not hold up a lot of water. Common options are sandboxes or coarse aquarium sand. You can layer different bases for a unique style such as sand, colored pebbles, and crushed glass.
· Decorations: Decorative items add style and personal touch to an air plant terrarium. They also fill the space. Choose items that are dry and pest-free before placing them inside the container. Do not use too much décor to avoid overcrowding the plants. Some examples are tiny pieces of bark or driftwood, orchid bark, and small shells.
- Assemble your terrarium
Start with the base by adding sand at least 2 inches thick. Level it with your hand or tool. Plain white sand fits most terrariums, so it is smart to start from that, but feel free to be adventurous by using other colors. You can also use white sand as a base then layer it with a brighter color to make it unique. Rocks and recycled glass are also a nice option for layers; just make sure there is enough space for your plant and other decorative accents.
Depending on your preferred theme, place your decorative items. If you are eyeing a beach theme, pretty shells and aquarium corals are wonderful additions. If you are creating a forest theme, a good idea is to add some scrap wood or driftwood. Spread them throughout the container, making sure to leave spaces in between for the air plants. Scrap wood goes well with brown sand for a natural look.
Next, it’s time to add your air plants. Gently set them down in the space you’ve allotted for them. Make sure they are not pressed up against the walls or decorations for their leaves to spread freely and dry off easily if they get wet. If the plants are wet, dry them out a bit because excess moisture could cause rotting. If you want to mount your air plants to some decorations, you may use nontoxic adhesives such as a silicone sealant. Gently apply a thin amount on the surface and leave for about 24 hours undisturbed. Another good way is to loosely tie the plant using cable ties around the stem.
- Place your terrarium in a good spot
It is best to choose a spot that gets 1 to 3 hours of indirect sunlight, about 1 to 3 feet within a window. Air plants do not thrive in a dark or dim light. If using artificial light, place it within 1 to 2 feet from the light source. A well-watered air plant can withstand bright sunlight and warmer temperatures. Additionally, keep the terrarium away from cold spots and moisture because air plants are tropical, for instance, air conditioners or drafty windows. Lastly, make sure that rain, spills, or leaks do not get inside the terrarium.
- Hang it or set it on a flat surface
Once you know where to place your terrarium, you are ready to hang or set it. Most terrarium kits come with ropes for secure hanging. Make sure it does not bump or knock over so that the base material does not mix up.
Proper Care for your Air Plants
Air plants need watering once a week. To do that, pull each plant from the terrarium to prevent holding moisture. Next, let them soak in a bowl of cold water for 20 to 30 minutes. If you do not have time to do this, an alternative is to mist the plants using a spray bottle for about 15 seconds. The latter is ideal for flowering plants. After soaking, leave them to air dry for 4 hours after a gentle shake. Place them in an area with good air circulation but away from direct sunlight. Make sure both the plant and terrarium are dry because air plants are soft and easy to rot. You may use a paper towel to remove excess moisture. You may add a water-soluble fertilizer to every other watering during the growing season. Watch out for condensation in your terrarium. Healthy air plants have full, stiff leaves. They should not be light, soft, or wrinkly.