Air plants are definitely some of the most beautiful plants that you can keep in your home; without simultaneously being too difficult to maintain. And that’s the main reason why they’ve become so popular for household terrariums; it’s nice having a pretty but low-maintenance plant.
Of course, even though the tillandsia species doesn’t need as much care — you still need to know some basics about growing the air plant in terrarium. And once you grasp the basics of this, you will find the plants to be not only pretty but useful. They will process air contaminants and release oxygen as they perform photosynthesis, for example.
If you want your air plant to thrive, you need to ensure one thing above all else: that you’ve designed the terrarium properly. And if you’re someone who’s created terrariums before, you will find that most of the rules of making a functional terrarium still apply to air plants as well.
Firstly, the bottom layer’s primary purpose is still drainage. That means that the inorganic material there, such as marbles, seashells, stones, sand, etc. will stop the organic matter above from rotting. When it comes to air plants, it also serves another purpose — it stops the plant from being steeped in water. And that’s basically the quickest way to kill this kind of plant.
And the next layer — the moss — actually retains some of the moisture you do need. While it holds moisture, moss also serves to provide a unique aesthetic to your terrarium. This is the part where you can have some fun and put anything that looks nice to you. One of the things that this area does is hold extra moisture; though we don’t recommend making a bottom layer that’s too thick. You don’t want a huge abundance of moisture in the terrarium — not more than the plant needs.
Remember — a terrarium is a small eco-space that requires just the proper balance of organic and inorganic matter. For instance, having a huge drainage layer and no moisture retainment means that all the water inside will quickly evaporate, leading to your plants dying. On the other hand, drowning is a possibility as well, so you can’t go overboard with the water. And that’s particularly true for air plants!
Taking Care of Pests
If you want your air plant terrarium to truly thrive, you need to do more than ensure that it’s got basic functionalities and looks nice. On the other hand, you also need to consider the fact that plants are in constant danger of being troubled by all kinds of diseases and pests. And in that regard, terrarium air plants are no real exception.
Luckily, this is definitely one of the more resilient household plant species — but that doesn’t mean that it’s impervious to this type of danger. There are a couple of different kinds of pests that are prone to striking against air plants. Your best bet is to remain vigilant and try to notice them straight away; that will mean that they’re easier to get rid of, and they won’t manage to cause as much damage.
Fungus and Rotting
One of the things that air plants are particularly not fond of is a sudden change. You don’t want to expose them to quick bursts of temperature changes, as that may very well kill them. They also suffer under bad ventilation and particularly cold windowsills.
If you happen to allow the humidity levels to be too high over a longer period of time — or find large amounts of unneeded water on the plants’ leaves; you are probably heading towards fungus and rotting. That’s why you need to ensure that humidity is optimal in the terrarium. After you’ve watered the plants, dry them and the terrarium surfaces and elements.
Otherwise, these wet conditions may be the death sentence for your air plants. Their leaves will slowly start going black in the extreme humidity and ultimately fall out. Plus, a terrarium is an excellent breeding ground for fungus as well, if you don’t take care of ventilation and humidity on time.
As for the pests that are known to strike against your plants, the most common ones are mealybugs. These are round and white creatures, whose numerous colonies appear as white balls of fluff. So, if you see this cotton-like shape on the leaves of your air plant — you can be sure that you’re dealing with this.
In the beginning, there will be just the harmless-looking fluff. And then shortly after this, you’ll start seeing tiny bugs once you look closer as well. It’s important to notice that you may be able to save your plants from these pests, but you need to act quickly as soon as you first see them. The mealybugs will quickly kill your air plant as they feast on its watery juices.
Interestingly enough, using water may be enough to kill these bugs and remove them from your terrarium. On the other hand, bigger infestations will likely require the use of an insecticide. If the re-infestation happens (and it often does), don’t be lazy and keep reapplying the treatment.
Air Plant in Terrarium: Other Considerations
In the end, it’s worth going over a couple of other considerations that are worth remembering when it comes to air plant terrariums. First of all, these are plants that like bright lights — if possible, you could even place them directly in the sun. And not having enough light is absolutely detrimental to them.
When it comes to watering, you don’t have much to think about here. On a weekly basis, you just take them out of the terrarium and soak them in water. After that, use a towel to dry them completely; remember what we talked about when it comes to excess moisture. Also, you may want to add some fertilizer that’s soluble in water during their main growing season. We hope this guide was useful to you and that you’ve learned something new today. Stay safe, guys!