How to Make an Air Plant Terrarium

by Kaitlynn Fenley
a finished air plant terrarium

Air Plants are so beautiful and unique. Use this easy tutorial to create a beautiful air plant terrarium in a recycled mason jar!

This is the very first edition of our Recycle Our Jars blog series! This blog series started so that we can provide fun, sustainable ways to reuse our fermented food jars after you’ve eaten all the probiotic goodness.

We love love love gardening and collecting plants just as much as we love sustainability. We found a couple of cute air plants at our local nursery and decided that their perfect home would be empty Cultured Guru jars! Since we enjoy (and oftentimes collect) lichens on our outdoor adventures, we figured they would make a great addition to an air plant terrarium! You can read about why the fluffy greenish-blue lichens growing on trees and rocks are such great organisms here.

So What is an Air Plant?

Air plants are members of the bromeliad family and in the genus Tillandsia. Plants in the bromeliad family are usually considered “tropicals.” Air plants, and a lot of other bromeliads, are epiphytes. This means that air plants can attach their small roots to tree branches and other plants, to position themselves in an optimal habitat. Don’t worry though, air plants do not hurt the plants they anchor too. 

Since roots present on air plants are predominately used  to secure the plant to suitable habitats, air plants absorb moisture and nutrients through their leaves. 

Air plants come in many shapes and sizes! They’re native to the the gulf south and thrive in humid climates. Since air plants absorb moisture through their leaves, warm humid climates are perfect. Since air plants are predominately kept indoors, it’s beneficial to supplement the lack of humidity with spray bottle misting. 

Supplies

  • Small pebbles
  • One empty mason jar, or any glass food jar, washed and dried
  • 1 or 2 Air Plants
  • 3-4 Lichens 
  • Twine
  • A spray bottle of water

Some cute air plant suggestions  

How to Make a Terrarium

  1. Remove the label and wash the jar you intend to use.
  2. Add small pebbles to fill about 1/3 the jar.
  3. First, arrange the lichens in the jar how you would like.
  4. Then indent a small hole in the pebbles using your finger.
  5. Place the air plant snugly in the hole.
  6. Add twine around the jar for decoration if you wish
  7. Mist the air plant and lichens with a bit of water. Thoroughly mist your terrarium daily, or at least four times a week. 

Air Plant Care Tips

  • Watering: You can mist the air plants using a spray bottle once a day. The minimum requirement for watering is at least four times a week. You can also remove the air plant and soak it in a bowl of water for an hour, then place it back in the terrarium a couple of times a week. However, I prefer to just mist it every day. If you are able, watering with rainwater is beneficial.
  • Light: Air plants naturally grow in shady, filtered light conditions. You can place your air plant terrarium anywhere that gets some filtered sunlight.
  • Fertilizing: It isn’t necessary to fertilize air plants often. You can fertilize once every three months or so, but be sure to use an air-plant-specific fertilizer.

Science For Kids: Recycle a Mason Jar and Turn It Into an Air Plant Terrarium

This is a perfect science activity for kids. Air plants are pretty hard to kill and are low maintenance, so it’s a positive plant care activity for children. You can use this as an activity to teach kids about Bromeliads and how plants absorb moisture through their leaves. This is also a great activity to teach kids about recycling and up-cycling jars and containers for new things.

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