Air of Sophistication
Dazzling Air Plants
A frosty and festive holiday centerpiece isn’t a new idea, but when the materials come from a steamy rain forest, it’s time to take notice. For a dazzling arrangement, give tropical air plants, or tillandsias, a try. You’ve seen them before, attached to refrigerator magnets and glued to seashells as beachside souvenirs. But if you think beyond the fridge, they have magnificent form, rivaling any seasonal flower for elegant appeal.
Exotic and Easy
While they look mysterious, air plants are easy to care for and offer quick success, even for the inexperienced gardener. First and foremost, the plants are epiphytes, so there’s no dirt and no pots. Their requirements are simple: They need moisture, bright light, and good air circulation. With proper care, your creation will last into the New Year and quite possibly through the upcoming seasons.
- Several times a week, place the arrangement in the sink and run water over it. Gently shake it to remove excess moisture. Mist the plants every day to compensate for dry, heated air.
- Tillandsias love bright light but not direct sun. Keep the arrangement near a window during the day if your table is in a dark spot. Make sure the area surrounding the arrangement is well ventilated. If plants remain wet 30 minutes after misting, cut back on moisture and move them to a place where the air circulates more freely.
Make this centerpiece in a morning. Be creative in shaping it and placing the air plants. The chicken wire tube, filled with Spanish moss, allows you to make the centerpiece any size you like. Ours cost about $75.
Use snips to cut chicken wire to the desired length and then to 8 inches wide. Place Spanish moss in the center of the wire, down its length.
Fold the wire over to form a tube, and bend the ends together to fasten it. Bend the tube into the shape you want―an oval, circle, square, or S-shape―and place it on a work surface covered with newspaper.
Arrange the tillandsias on the form. Begin with the largest, and fill in with smaller plants so the base is covered. Once the plants are arranged the way you want, pick up each plant one by one, put a dab of glue near each plant’s base (not on the roots), place each plant back into the arrangement, and hold until set. Once the centerpiece is complete, allow the glue to dry thoroughly before moving. This may take several hours.
Visit Russell’s Bromeliads at www.russellsairplants.com for great advice on air plants and for purchasing information.