DIY Airplants Kit – Seashell Version


Displaying with Shells

  1. Match each plant to the type of shell you want.  Depending on the type of plant and shell, some plants with bulbous end may not fit into the shell hole.  Make sure that the plants with bulbous ends go into the larger shells.
  2. Make sure the hole at the bottom of the shell is entirely covered by the mesh screen provided.
  3. Use the small spoon to fill the shell with the black gravel.  The purpose of the gravel is to fill the hollow space inside the shell and at the same time provide the weight to counterbalance the shell and keep the plants in place.
  4. When around 3/4ths full, put the end of the plant inside the shell and keep filling it with gravel until the end of plant is around 1/3rd or 1/4th buried in the gravel.
  5. Use the leftover gravel to pour into the Terra Cotta saucer.  The gravel bed should keep the shells level.

Basic Airplant Care

Tillandsias, just like any other plant, need light, water and air circulation.  Foremost of these is light.  The best type of light is shaded, semi outdoor light like on a balcony.  Failing this, beside or near a window is good too.  If unable to provide these, airplants will grow very slowly and may slowly wither away.  The more light the plants have, the more water they will need.  Water using a spray bottle, spraying all over the leaves until they are dripping wet.  Tillandsias can take water up to every other day or just once a week, depending on the amount of light they receive.


Plant placement

In South America where they are from, Tillandsias grow on trees, rocks, other plants and even on electric wires.  Their seeds are dispersed by wind and their roots provide them anchorage on whatever surface they land on, burrowing and gripping tighter to that surface as they grow.  In nature they are very seldom seen in a formal vertical position, in fact they are often fixed sideways or even upside down.  Such positioning also helps them avoid pooling water at their base which may eventually cause rot if combined with poor air circulation.  For composing your piece, the glue can more than take the place of their roots in clinging to any surface, so be creative and don’t be limited by a normal upright position of the plant.


Any fertilizer for Tillandsias must be sprayed on and must be diluted to a lower level than is typical for terrestrial plants.  Breeders use Bromeliad or special Tillandsia fertilizer that is low in nitrogen.  Tillandsia are unable to use the nitrogen commonly found in other fertilizers as they are not planted in soil.  Fertilizer an speed up growth and encourage blooming, although this can also shorten the lifespan of your plant.


Tillandsias in general only bloom once in their lifecycle.  After blooming, the plant begins to ‘die’ but not in the conventional sense.  Post-bloom, the plant may take months or even years to slowly shrink and waste away leaf by leaf.  In the meantime though, they will produce one or more offsets or pups which will eventually lead to having more plants!


Probably one of the most fulfilling aspects of owning airplants is to watch them produce little pups that will grow and eventually replace the mother plant.  In general it is desirable to keep the pup attached to the mother as long as possible as they grow faster this way.  Alternatively the pup can be separated when it reaches 1/3rd the size of the mother and placed elsewhere.

Tillandsia Leaf Types

In general there are two types of tillansias by leaves: Xeric and Mesic.  Xeric are the airplants with more trichomes (the small hairs that allow airplants to take in air and water from their leaves). They appear whiter or more silvery and require more light and less water.  Mesic are the greener leaves, which require less light and more water.  Knowing which plants are which allows you to group plants with similar need together in a display piece.


Plant growlights are an alternative to having natural sunlight available.  Airplant displays are very suited to using growlights as obviously they are easier to move and don’t have the potential mess that soil based plants have.  Make sure to have the growlights as close as possible to the leaves and have at least 14 hours of light a day.

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Tillandsias, or airplants as they are more commonly known, are a genus of over 650 plants from the Bromeliad family, which have uniquely adapted to their environment by developing the ability to absorb all the nutrients they need to grow and multiply through their leaves, rather than their roots.  This makes soil unnecessary to grow and cultivate them, and gives hobbyists the unique opportunity to craft open plant displays limited only by their imagination.

This Do It Yourself Kit has all you need to handmake such a display.  The contents of the box are:

  • 3 common Tillandsia of your choice
  • 3 pc of sea urchin shell, all different types, with small mesh hole cover
  • 1 pc Terra Cotta saucer
  • 1 pack fine black gravel
  • 1 small spoon

All you need is your creativity!

Dimensions180 × 165 × 110 cm