I like to believe that our quality of life is improved by the presence of other living things, whether a friend, a pet or even a plant. And, while all living, breathing beings require a certain level of care and that other "C" word _ commitment _ there is a plant that asks very little of us, the tillandsia, or as they are commonly known, air plants.
Tillandsia are members of the bromeliad family and are native to tropical regions such as Central and South America. They don’t root in soil, but rather attach themselves to trees and receive the nutrients they require from the air and rainfall. Air plants come in a wide spectrum of colors, shapes and sizes. All varieties will flower and live at a fuss factor just above rocks.
Katherine “C.C.” Griffith features several types of bromeliad at her Fort Worth, Texas, store, C.C.’s Touch of Nature. Many examples abound on sculptural pieces of driftwood that Griffith creates herself.
“I started doing the driftwood (arrangements) before I started doing landscaping, and that was over 38 years ago,” Griffith says. It was at Griffith’s store that we found the larger tillandsia specimens used in this project. The large gray air plant is called xerographica, also commonly referred to as “the king” for its size and formidable shape.
The second, taller example is known as juncea. The two other varieties of tillandsia are stricta “Stiff Purple” and brachycaulos “Spiral.”
Although tillandsia can be displayed propped in a vintage tea cup, we wanted to keep our presentation looking natural.
Air plants, available at plant nurseries and many online sources.
Moss. We used sphagnum moss, found by the bag at craft stores. Glue, not water-soluble
Driftwood. We found this piece in the reptile section of the pet store.
1. Water tillandsia and allow to dry. Some experts advise filling the sink and allowing the plants to soak for a few minutes, but C.C. Griffith suggests a good pass under the spigot.
2. Remove any dead growth on the bottom of the plant.
3. Arrange the plants on the wood.
4. Attach each plant using the glue. (Glue guns are suggested but can pose a burning risk to sensitive fingertips.)
5. To camouflage the glued areas, cover with moss and glue in place.
DISPLAYING AND CARING FOR THE ARRANGEMENT
Experts agree that tillandsia need bright, filtered light in order to thrive. Arrangements are perfect for shaded areas of the yard, such as a front door or gate out of direct sunlight. Additionally, plants should be watered two to three times per week. Do not allow water to sit in the center of the plant, or it will rot. During the colder winter months, tillandsia can be kept in a sunroom or near a bright window.