The New Succulent: 5 Tips for Decorating with Air Plants

The New Succulent: 5 Tips for Decorating with Air Plants

Air plants. These alluring natural wonders are currently making a big impact on home decor. So, why not bring them into your home for punch of green? These air plant ideas from us at Pottery Barn will set you up for success when decorating with these unique botanicals.

Get Creative with Display

Because air plants don’t require soil, they’re the perfect choice for a creative display. You can arrange them on a beautiful tray next to some decorative objects, or display them in a vintage champagne coupe to bring some elegance into any room. Air plants can also be mounted to driftwood and other natural elements, which introduces a sense of organic beauty into any space. From small glass terrariums to tall brass candleholders, there are many different objects you can use and repurpose to showcase your air plants.

Mix with Caution

Terrariums have made a big splash in design, and that’s led to some ambitious amateur gardeners mixing succulents and air plants together. Ultimately, this isn’t the best idea. The two plants have dramatically different needs. Succulents have roots and grow in sandy soil, taking their water from the ground. Air plants have minimal roots and grow suspended in trees, taking their water from the air around them.

With that in mind, it’s best to choose between either air plants or succulents when you’re styling a terrarium. If you want your plants to stay alive for months, or even years to come, it’s best to give them separate homes that replicate their natural environments. Because their light needs are quite similar, you can group air plants and succulents together in the same area, but in separate containers.

Give Them Plenty of Light

When considering how to decorate with air plants, think about how much natural light is available in your chosen space. While many species of air plants can survive in low light conditions like tillandsia xerographica, few will actually thrive without strong, direct sunlight. That means most air plants should be displayed as close as possible to your sunniest windows. Some air plants, like xerographica ionantha, will even blush a beautiful reddish-pink when they’re given enough light. If you’re displaying your air plants in a terrarium or another kind of glass container, you’ll want to make sure it avoids getting burned by the sun’s harsh rays. Move these a few inches back from a bright window to be safe.

Let Them Dry Out

Air plants are native to humid, tropical locales, but that doesn’t mean they can stay wet. In fact, it’s essential that your air plants are able to dry out within a few hours of getting a bath or spray. If you plan to keep them in a wine glass, terrarium or other container that can hold water, make sure to remove your air plant before you water it, and give it some time to dry out before putting it back. This can be as simple as giving it a gentle shake, and letting it sit on a dry surface for a few minutes. Just be careful to not spray water directly into a terrarium or a closed container. Air plants that can’t dry out may become moldy, and will otherwise be at risk for a quick death.

Signs You’re Providing Proper Care

Air plants will continually produce new leaf tendrils from the centers of their little rosette bodies, and the leaves will stay plump and smooth from end to tip. If none of your air plants have brown tips and seem to be growing, you’re doing great. If they’re blushing, even better! If they’re flowering, you’re doing an A+ job. In most cases, an air plant that flowers will produce little baby air plants called pups. Depending on the species, these pups can branch off on the body of the air plant itself or from the flower spike. The main air plant will gradually die off after it produces pups, but this usually takes a while. Not to fear! You’ll have lovely new air plants growing in to take its place. If you notice that your air plants are looking a bit drab and don’t seem to be growing, try moving them to a sunnier spot and watering them a little more often.