DIY: Make an Air Plant Frame

Air plants, aka Tillandsias, are wonderful things. As their name suggests, they’re often found high up in the air growing without soil, attached to other plants. Air plants are native to Central and South America and grow in a range of environments from deserts to tropical rainforests.

Lack of soil is usually prohibitive if you want to grow a garden, but not when it comes to air plants! All you need for a happy air plant garden is a warm-ish climate, a sheltered position, and a bit of water every now and again.

This air plant frame is a great way of showing them off. Here’s how you do it:

You will need:

  • An old picture frame. Make sure it’s sturdy and strong.
  • Tacks or short nails.
  • Hammer.
  • Thick thread. I used polyester embroidery thread as it doesn’t disintegrate as quickly as cotton thread when exposed to sun and rain outdoors.
  • Around 3 – 5 air plants, depending on size of frame.


1. Clean the frame and mark the locations for the tacks on the back of the frame with a pencil. I marked them at 5cm spacings but you can do whatever you want, depending on how big the frame is. Be as random or as ordered as you like…

2. Once you have nailed the tacks into their locations, tie a loop in the end of the string and start making your criss-cross string design. Depending on your style, you can be wild and asymmetric or do something more controlled and grid-like. Make sure there are enough string lines crossing the frame to hold your air plants in place.

3. When you are happy with the string design, tie off the end as tightly as possible and start sticking your air plants in their new home. Weave them through the string and make sure they’re held tightly in place, without damaging their foliage.

4. Hang the frame in a well-ventilated, sheltered spot and give the plants a spray with water.

The air plant frame is best outside but can be hung indoors for special occasions (air plants love fresh air and will not be happy if kept indoors for more than a few weeks at a time). Bring it indoors when your boyfriend’s parents visit, or when I come around for a cup of tea. They, and I, will be very impressed.