We love airplants for their diversity in form, their ease of maintenance and their total versatility. They can live anywhere! And their strange and beautiful twisting, twining, exploring leaves enhance any structure that holds them. One of the most beautiful and satisfying ways we have found to keep airplants is to plant them in an aerium.
Aeriums are glass containers that house Tillandsia (airplants). They are like terrariums, but have no need for soil. Aeriums are, in fact, quite functional places for airplants to live, so if you are looking for a beautiful way to showcase and house your Tillandsia, an aerium might be the perfect thing! In this blog post, we'll give a brief overview of aeriums and how they function.
But First, A Bit About Tillandsia in Nature...
Tillandsia are native to the more equatorial regions of the Americas in the forests, mountains and deserts. Most Tillandsia are epiphytes, which means they don't root down in soil, but instead use their roots to anchor themselves to other living structures
It is important to note that Tillandsia are not parasitic and do not leech nutrients from their host plants. They use trees for structure and support, but neither aid nor detract from the tree's health. Airplants use their leaves to absorb nutrients and water from the air. Rain, dew, dust, decaying leaves and insect matter - all of these are absorbed through the surface of Tillandsia leaves, aided by small hair-like structures called trichomes.
tHE eLEMENTS OF AN Aerium
GLASS: The glass housing of an Aerium allows light in while diffusing it slightly. It also functions as a tiny greenhouse, keeping the plant warm and forming a humid space during watering. Airplants will absorb the water as it evaporates. Any glass container will do, as long as it has an opening large enough to easily maneuver the airplant. You may want to remove the airplant periodically for dunking or soaking, depending on your watering preference and the needs of your Tillandsia.
MOSS & WOOD: These do a good job of taking in a little water in the vicinity of your Tillandsia without becoming too soggy. Dried mosses keep their color and don't require watering, and wood can add a lovely contrasting form, color and texture.
SAND: With no need for soil, sand and rocks will do the trick! Sand and rocks open up a realm of possibility for color, texture, and fineness. They also provide a simple supporting ground without absorbing too much moisture. Airplants must be able to dry out and do not do well sitting in water.
CARE: Aerium care is simple! Place it in an area where it will get bright filtered light (direct light will burn the leaves). Misting inside the aerium is a good method of watering, as the humid environment will allow the airplant to absorb water from the air. Keep an eye on it, as you will want to make sure the airplant is able to dry out within 4 hours of misting. You may also choose to dunk or soak your Tillandsia, but you will want to make sure it has the chance to dry out completely before returning it to your aerium. As always, with hot and dry environments, your Tillandsia will need more thorough or frequent watering, while in a cool or humid environment, less will be necessary. Comfortable room humidity is perfectly suitable.
If you're wondering how to bring an airplant into your living space, consider an aerium. A perfect balance of elaborate wildness and elegant containment, they are living works of art. We could all use a little more of that creative energy in our lives, don't you think?
At Niche, we create custom terrariums and aeriums, and you can always find one ready to move out the door in our shops. However, if you're looking for a chance to design and put together your own (take it from us, it's a lot of fun!), you may want to take a look at our upcoming workshop at The Street in Chestnut Hill! Click the button below for more details and to sign up.
The aerium photography for this post was done by Mandy Lancia, co-founder of With/Another, a Chicago company founded with the mission of highlighting and building community between creative women. Visit their website to learn more.
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