Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tillandsia Terrarium

Tillandsia have been sprouting up everywhere: in magazines, websites, and now stores! I've been secretly harboring a need-to-buy-crush since I first spied them way back when, so when Justin and I were out enjoying a beautifully-weathered evening a few fortnights ago (I'm reading Jane Eyre right now so pardon the ye olde English) and came across an abundance of them at The Mossy Twig, I had to snag some surprisingly affordable sprouts (six for $30!). Fortunately, for more than just us, this venture coincided with the recent engagement of our friends so I nabbed an extra to use in a quick'n'easy engagement present.

Tillandsia, better known as air plants, is "a genus of around 540 species in the Bromeliad family (Bromeliaceae), found in the forests, mountains, and deserts, of Central and South America, and Mexico and the southern United States in North America. The thinner-leafed varieties grow in rainy areas and the thick-leafed varieties in areas more subject to drought. Moisture and nutrients are gathered from the air (dust, decaying leaves and insect matter) through structures on the leaves called trichomes. Tillandsia species are epiphytes (also called aerophytes or air plants)—they normally grow without soil while attached to other plants. Epiphytes are not parasitic, depending on the host only for support." (Thank you Wikipedia.)

According to the associate at The Mossy Twig and proven over the past few weeks, to care for my air plants all I have to do is soak them in water once a week for about 10 minutes. Then before putting them back in their soil-less and water-less containers, shake them free of excess water. They do not do well with direct light but enjoy filtered light. If the ends begin to dry out, they aren't receiving enough water and if they appear soggy, they are getting too much water. Pretty simple, no?

Upon returning home from our weeknight out, I learned that not only was I drawn to these unique plants, our cats and their crunch-desiring appetites are too. Through a quick google search I found that "Tillandsias are NOT toxic to animals—although this does not mean your pet won't eat them, but they will survive the experience, your plant might not." Therefore I knew I was going to have to find containers that would completely enclose each plant, which wasn't a bad thing since my plan was to create little terrariums with them anyways.

I wasn't sure how many containers I would need but I did want them to be clear glass and clean-lined shapes so the next day's lunch hour was devoted to perusing my favorite closest thrift store where I found several containers that would do but only three that I left with—all for a whopping $6. After work I sidled up to our kitchen table with nothing more than the air plants, freshly washed glass containers, and some river rock that I have on hand for filling flower vases when needed.

(Look at Harley trying to sneak up and attack.)

In just a few minutes, I had arranged several terrariums. I even had to dig in my decor cabinet to pull out two more vases because when I was shopping for containers my memory underestimated the size of the plants and I clearly needed more.

First I laid down a layer of river rock, then I placed the air plant inside and called it a day! Nothing could have been easier and look at how simply beautiful they are.

To add another layer of texture, I tossed in some twigs I picked up outside my office. I think they especially work well with this leggy number.

So for a grand total of $36, I created five tillandsia terrariums, making each arrangement $6. This definitely is a winning project.

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