Driftwood and a few tillandsias make a light and airy wall hanging or mobile.
This tillandsia wall hanging was inspired by today’s bohemian ceramic and fiber artists, who are bringing macramé and weaving back from the 1970s, but with a modern twist. Tillandsias are the perfect plant for this project—their simple beauty and ability to grow without soil lend themselves beautifully to a wall hanging. I placed my finished piece near the entry of my house, but it could also be installed over a window as a curtain or above a bed as a mobile. Large dried botanicals would also work well for this project. If you do use tillandsias, make sure they get enough light. Tillandsias need a lot of bright light, and a little sun is welcome. If they do not receive enough light they will just limp along and eventually die.
I wanted to incorporate the weather-beaten wood of the California coast, but often it is not advisable to use driftwood from the sea in a garden because of the amount of salt in the wood. Be sure to cure the wood if it has come from the sea. If you have access to lake driftwood, that’s a better option—it is ready to use right off the shore.
- 8 feet of string (I used 1 mm hemp cord; any cord you find attractive will work) (A)
- Piece of wood, about 2 feet long (lake driftwood is preferable, but sea driftwood is fine if it has been cured) (B)
- 11 tillandsias no larger than 3 inches (C)
- Scissors (D)
Cut four lengths of string—two lengths at 2 1/2 feet long and one slightly shorter than 2 1/2 feet (these three are for hanging the tillandsias), and one to use to hang the wood.
Lay the branch, strings, and tillandsias on a work surface, placing the wood at the top and three strings down from the wood. Arrange the tillandsias along the lines of the string until you have an arrangement that you like (don’t attach them to the string yet). For a balanced hanging, use four tillandsias on the outside strings and three on the middle string. Vary the order of the size of the tillandsias and the angle at which you place them.
Begin tying the tillandsias to the string. You can start at the top or bottom of the strings and work your way up or down. As you tie each tillandsia onto the string, find a spot at which the tillandsia will be stabilized.
TYING THE TILLANDSIAS
A). You may need to attach the string in two spots to make it stable.
B). Tie the string around the base, if that seems best.
C). Or wind the string through the plant.
Once you have attached all of the tillandsias, hold each string up to see how the plants hang—look at how they’re spaced and the direction they face. Make adjustments if necessary, then cut off any loose threads.
Once you have attached all of the tillandsias tie each string to the wood, spaced equally part. To hang the wood, tie the fourth piece of string to the wood outside where the two side strings holding the tillandsias are attached.
I take the wall hanging off the wall and gather the tillandsias, along with the strings, and place them in a bowl of water for an hour or so once a week. Tillandsias can be misted, dunked, or soaked, but I recommend soaking because it is the most thorough way to water air plants. They can be misted to add humidity, but unless you are very diligent they will never absorb enough water to live on misting alone.
Tillandsias like very bright indirect for most of the day, with a little direct sun.
Tillandsias should be fed with a water-soluble solution. A fertilizer for epiphytes or orchids can be used.
Remove any dead leaves by cutting or pulling them off in the opposite direction of growth.
Once an air plant has bloomed the plant will slowly die. Before it dies it usually produces offsets, also called pups. If you would like to remove a pup from its parent plant just hold the base of each plant firmly and pull them apart.
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