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How to Mount Air Plants

tillandsia arrangement image by Shirley Hirst from

Air plants (Tillandsia spp.) are epiphytic bromeliads that obtain their nutrients from the moist, humid air of tropical rainforests in South and Central America. These non-parasitic plants attach themselves to a host tree or even a rock, trapping the moisture in the air with the hundreds of tiny scales that coat their distinctive foliage. Most home gardeners enjoy mounting their tillandsia in a visually appealing way, often on a large piece of driftwood or bark, but these plants can also be simply placed on a rock or in an empty basket--just don't plant them in soil.

Choose the mounting object. A piece of wood that has a somewhat smooth area, a seashell, or cork bark are all popular mounting items, according to information published by the Bromeliad Society International. Make sure the object does not have any rotting parts or symptoms of fungi.

Consider the plant's size. The plant needs room enough grow large enough but still be supported by the mounting object. Leave space around the plant to add to the visual appeal of the display.

Look at the air plant's roots. If there is a root ball, wrap it in soft sphagnum moss, trapping the moss between the plant and the mounting object when you go to mount it. If not, you can skip this step.

Mount the plant to the object. The key is to make sure the plant is very secure, even though it is light, otherwise the roots will not firmly attach. You can use nylon string and wrap it around the plant and the object (remove it when the roots are firm), large staples from a staple gun, or you can drill holes into the object and thread plastic-coated wire through the holes and to the plant. The latter option is best for larger plants. Very small air plants can be mounted with dabs of super glue or Velcro tape.

Hang up the mounting object with nails or string, or lay it on a flat surface. Be sure to place the air plant in a location where it will receive plenty of sunlight, at least 6 hours a day.

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