Naturally beguiling and low-maintenance, air plants offer a modern spin on greening your interiors

With their almost otherworldly allure, air plants are the perfect subject to inspire your creativity. Almost any object or surface can be the medium to display these exotic botanicals. “Air plants are low-maintenance and do not require soil to grow, absorbing all their water and nutrients through their leaf system," shares Cape Town-based botanist Marissa Pretorius of Opus Studio discusses air-plant facts and care tips. "This makes them versatile for decorating in most environments.”

These plants are part of the bromeliad family and originate mostly from South America. Scientifically classified as Tillandsias, there are over 550 species of air plants. According to Pretorius, placing air plants in a vessel with a small amount of water will allow them to produce their own moisture.

“Make sure your chosen container is not sealed as they need circulating air to survive," she advises. “If the colour of your air plant looks a tad grey, a light misting with water from a spray bottle will soon restore its lush green hue.” 

If your air plant is looking especially poorly and dry, give it an overnight soak. Shake it off properly so it doesn’t retain too much water, which can cause rot. These plants also benefit from being dunked in room-temperature tap water for about 30 minutes every third week. Once they’ve enjoyed a good soak, let them dry in a high-light environment. 

Seek out inspiring ways to display these sturdy plants with these ideas below:

1. Create hanging gardens

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Above Plants featured in this bathroom include Cattleya orchids, Spanish moss (commonly known as Old Man’s Beard), Tillandsia ionantha fuego, Tillandsia lorentziana, Tillandsia tricolor, Tillandsia ‘Houston’, Tillandsia neglecta, Tillandsia setacea, Tillandsia igneciae and Staghorn ferns

Greenery in the bathroom is often overlooked, even though it’s usually the best place for plant life. Air plants get to take advantage of the humidity here, saving you from the chore of watering. For an ethereal effect, secure lighter air plants with transparent fishing line and hang from hooks in the ceiling.

Air plants generally enjoy a humid environment, but allow some air to circulate so they have a chance to dry off. Access to at least six hours of indirect sunlight will also ensure that they thrive.

There’s strength in numbers; grouping plants close together increases the level of water vapour. Display the heavier species on window sills and flat surfaces. Combine these with rustic and man-made elements such as wood, stone and clear-glass lab jars and beakers for an industrial effect. 

See also: 6 Inspiring Ways To Design Your Bathroom

2. Craft a centrepiece with air plants

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Above This sculptural centrepiece features bromeliads and a mix of air plants displayed next to a piece of driftwood

Rethink the centrepiece for your dining room by displaying plants with oversized proportions and graphic forms. The juxtaposition of the sculptural statement table with the unruly botanical composition raises the dramatic impact of this tableau.

Using a large piece of driftwood as your base, create an installation like this one with bromeliads and other exotic flowering species, along with a selection of air plants.

See also: 4 Steps To Designing A Stylish Dining Room

3. Turn them into wall art in your home office

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Above The plants featured in this home office include the Tillandsia lorentziana, Tillandsia tricolor, Tillandsia ‘Houston’, Tillandsia neglecta, Tillandsia setacea, Tillandsia igneciae, Tillandsia abdita and Spanish moss

Greenery creates an organic focal point in this home office, encouraging creativity while evoking a sense of calm. Attach small- to medium-sized air plants to the wall using a putty-like adhesive or washi tape. Alternatively, tie your air plants at various heights and intervals to a piece of driftwood or bamboo using transparent fishing line and make a mobile. Hang it from the wall using hooks, picture nails or a simple curtain rail or copper pipe. 

You can also create a dynamic wallpaper using air plants. This visually arresting mix is a living exhibit with its graphic leaf shapes, textures and shades. You’ll not only be beautifying your space, but also purifying the air. Additional air plants can be displayed in contemporary vases or vessels.

See also: Flower Subscriptions in Singapore to Brighten Up Your Home Office

4. Arrange them in jars and beakers

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Above Plants displayed in this kitchen include the Spanish moss, Tillandsia lorentziana, Tillandsia tricolor, Tillandsia ‘Houston’, Tillandsia neglecta, Tillandsia setacea, Tillandsia igneciae

Create an eye-catching miniature indoor garden in your kitchen with a stripped-back, modern aesthetic—a great distraction if the view from your window is less than desirable.

This contemporary twist on the classic terrarium involves a variety of air plants arranged in laboratory-style glass beakers, vases and storage jars. Create a diaphanous effect by also hanging a few of your air plants in front of a window; use transparent fishing gut and hooks to make a super-simple ‘floating’ installation.

5. Turn tableware into vases

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Make air plants the main event on a hallway table. Arrange them in a selection of clear-glass containers in the same shape but in varying sizes—think bowls, small measuring jugs and even glass teacups. This will ensure visual synergy while imbuing the installation with a personalised and quirky touch.



Marissa Pretorius/Opus Studio


Sven Alberding


Greg Cox


Babylonstoren in Simondium, South Africa

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