Air plants are everywhere in Florida. Here in Tampa, they grow on power lines and fences as well as on trees. They're actually bromeliads - a type of epiphyte like mosses, lichens and orchids that don't need soil to grow, and instead take their nourishment from the air and the surface of their hosts. They don't hurt the trees and other things they grow on - they just perch, and occasionally topple off, like the one I found on my walk today and from which this Instructable in made.
Air plants are sold in gift shops around here, from anywhere for a couple of dollars for tiny ones in seashells to $20 or more for great big ones. In nearby Tarpon Springs, they root them into big basket sponges, which is pretty nifty. But I've got an abundance of seashells so that's what I used.
If you're in the south, these make easy home accents and nice gifts that you can easily mail to northern friends. Care is simply a matter of spritzing with water periodically - and that's it!
Step 1: Materials
Seashells or some other type of container - natural sponges, rocks, branches - any kind of surface that you wedge the air plant into in some decorative fashion, will do just fine. Just make sure whatever you use can get a little wet periodically.
Step 2: Florida Air Plant
The variety of air plants we find most often around here is Bartram's Airplant , named for famed Florida naturalist William Bartram. These air plants are absolutely everywhere, and easy to harvest - often right from the ground.
Step 3: Wash Everything
Give your air plant a really good rinsing. There will be leaves and dirt among it's leathery little leaves, and possibly a bug or two, although they're usually pretty clean unless they've been on the ground for a while. I rinse them until the water runs clear. Do the same for your shell or whatever other item you're using for your air plant's perch.
Step 4: Separate Air Plant As Needed
You'll see that there's two shells and one air plant here. No problem! Like orchids, air plants can be separated into individual plants. So just gently pull off whatever size piece you'd like, and rinse again if needed (you'll probably find more leaf litter when you separate the plant).
Step 5: Arrange Air Plant
Now just arrange your air plants into your shell or other containers, wedging them in snugly.
And there you have it! A couple of lovely decorate seashell planters with a feathery spray of air plant to accent a mantel or table.
Step 6: Display and Enjoy!
In a dry environment, you'll want to mist your air plant about once every week and a half or so. In moist environments, they can probably go a couple of weeks between waterings.