By Jenny Peterson

I love those garden projects that are completed quickly, easily and for just a little bit of money — and who doesn’t? Especially this time of year, when we gardeners are just itching to do something but the weather is not cooperating. Here’s a great little interior project just in time for Valentine’s Day — it’s a small tillandsia terrarium that is completed in about 30 minutes for less than $15, depending upon the size of the container you choose. Learn how to make it …

Materials for Tillandsia Terrarium

  • 1 clear glass container (I like inexpensive cylinder-shaped ones, available at craft stores for about $2.99 each)
  • Colored sand — red, pink and/or white, also available at craft stores — amount determined by the size of your glass container
  • Decorative elements — Craft stores call these “decorative fillers” for floral arrangements, and they are sold inexpensively by the bag. Look for colored glass marbles, colored rock, or acrylic “gems” in tones to blend with your color scheme
  • 1 small tillandsia or “air plant” (available at many nurseries or garden centers, as well as online like Air Plant Supply Company, typically less than $5-$10
  • 1 small-mouthed funnel

Tillandsia terrarium materials are easy to find at craft stores.Directions for Tillandsia Terrarium

  1. Always start with your finely textured materials first; in this case, the colored sand. Pick one color of sand and, using the funnel, pour a small amount into the bottom of your glass container.
  2. Using the second sand color, add a small amount over the first color. You can experiment with carefully tilting your glass container to create wavy, almost zebra-like stripes, alternating the direction you tilt each time.
  3. Continue alternating sand colors, a small amount at a time, until you have filled about 2/3 of your glass container.
  4. On top of the final layer of colored sand, carefully spoon or drop in a tablespoon or two of decorative filler, more if you have a larger container.
  5. Finish by popping in a small tillandsia.

Tillandsia Care

Every week or so, remove your tillandsia from the terrarium and soak in water for about 30-60 minutes. Remove from water, shake the excess water from the tillandsia and let dry on a paper towel. Once it’s dry, replace it back into the terrarium.

In between soakings, use a small spray bottle to mist the tillandsia inside the terrarium to create a more humid atmosphere. Aim for a light misting rather than a soaking, which could rot your tillandsia over time or make your colored sand’s appearance less crisp. I mist mine about twice a week, but if your terrarium is going to be displayed in a humid room like the bathroom, you might be able to skip this step.

Your tillandsia terrarium should receive bright, indirect light to thrive — no dark corners allowed! And be sure to keep the top of the tillandsia terrarium open — if your particular glass container has a lid, do not use it. Tillandsias prefer good air circulation in order to grow their best.

If you have difficulty locating tillandsias, I have successfully used small succulent clippings instead.

Succulents like to callous over on the cut end before planting, so this terrarium is a good place for them to shine while they’re biding their time. You can lightly mist them to give them a little moisture, but keep in mind that succulent clippings should be viewed as a temporary arrangement rather than the more long-lasting one created by using a tillandsia.