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Air plants mounted on wood

How To Water Air Plants Attached To Wood

When watering air plants attached to wood you may find it easier to dunk or mist your plants instead of soaking them in water. Soaking is the best method for hydrating Tillandsia which is grown in an indoor environment. However, the larger the display the less practical soaking becomes.

For larger and heavier objects such as huge branches, rocks, and wireframes misting is the best method for hydrating your air plants. With larger displays, it is also essential to give your plants and displays plenty of time to dry properly after watering in a well-ventilated area.

In this guide, I explain how to care for wood-mounted Tillandsia, the best way to water them, and how to protect the wood.

How To Care For Air Plants Mounted On Wood

When watering air plants mounted on wood it’s important to keep in mind that excess moisture could eventually stain or damage the wood. Soaking your Tillandsia without submerging the wood in water as well may prove very difficult so it may be necessary to dunk your plants instead.

Start by filling a bowl, sink, or even bathtub with enough water to fully submerge your plants. Then, gently dunk your air plants upside down three to five times ensuring they are fully submerged and thoroughly wet throughout.

For larger Tillandsia displays you may have no choice but to opt for regular misting instead of dunking due to the size, shape, and weight of your display. To do this, fill a spray bottle with room-temperature water and spray your plants from around 6-12″ away. Ensure that the mist reaches all the parts of your air plants whilst being careful not to saturate the wooden mount.

A cluster of Tillandsia mounted on wood

If your air plant has roots it’s essential to take extra care not to damage them when watering. Excess or pooling water around the roots can quickly lead to root rot so try to avoid the area if possible.

If you notice any roots growing onto the objects your plants are attached to this is perfectly natural and although many people believe that Tillansia roots do not aid hydration, and are mainly there to provide support, recent research suggests that Tillandsia roots can and do absorb some water.

Watering Tillandsia attached to other objects such as rocks and wireframes is relatively easy compared to ornamental branches and decorative wooden displays. Yes, some rocks are permeable and wireframes usually have steel or wooden borders, but if you apply common sense and do not oversaturate your display you shouldn’t run into any major problems.

Will Water Damage The Wood?

When it comes to watering air plants mounted on wood there are a few things to consider to help prevent the risk of water damage. As much as air plants require regular watering to thrive, over-watering or improper watering can lead to mold growth, staining, or rotting on the wood.

To help prevent water damage to the wood some people put plastic bags over the wood or pat it dry immediately after watering. This can help to prevent excess water from saturating the wood. However, this method may not be practical for larger wooden branches or those with intricate wooden displays.

As long as you apply common sense and do not overwater your plants and displays they should be fine.

One option is to make the wooden mount water-resistant by treating and sealing its surfaces. Sealing the wood should prevent water from soaking in and may help to prevent mold from growing as well. If you want to try this make sure you choose a non-toxic sealant so you don’t damage your plants …

The process can get complicated as you also have to make sure the sealant is compatible with the type of wood you’re using to avoid any adverse effects. Also, the process is not entirely environmentally friendly so I prefer to use untreated wood, which tends to look more natural, and a careful watering schedule instead, which works just fine.

Another option to consider is adding a layer of moss between the wooden mount and your air plants. The moss helps absorb excess water and provides a useful barrier between your plants and the wood, helping to prevent root rot and water saturation in the wood.

Can I Fertilize Air Plants Mounted To Wood?

If you are wondering whether you can fertilize air plants mounted to wood the answer is, yes you can. Tillandsia or Bromeliad fertilizers generally come in a spray bottle making it easy to apply them directly to the leaves of your air plants whilst trying to avoid any contact with the wooden mount.

Once you have found a suitable fertilizer, it’s crucial to follow the instructions carefully. Applying too much fertilizer or not using it correctly may cause damage to your air plants and increase the risk of damaging your wooden mount.

Preparing fertilizer for Tillandsia

Most fertilizers require you to spray the leaves of your air plants once every two weeks, but it’s always best to double-check the instructions to ensure you’re applying them correctly.

If you apply too much fertilizer to your Tillandsia it can lead to a build-up of bacteria on their leaves. The same can be said for wooden objects, rocks, and wireframes. Wiping away any excess fertilizer from your wooden mount will help to limit the build-up of harmful bacteria on your displays.

Do not wipe off any excess fertilizer from your air plant’s leaves as that will almost certainly damage their delicate trichomes. Wash off the excess fertilizer with water from a spray bottle instead.

Why Is My Wood-Mounted Air Plant Dying?

If you notice your wood-mounted air plant is dying it is unlikely to be attributed to the fact it’s attached to a wooden branch or other object. Also, if you use Tilly glue or wire to attach your plants those are unlikely to cause your plant’s demise.

Some people use any old craft or builder’s glue that might be left over from another project to fix their plants to a wooden mount. I seriously urge you to avoid this method as the chemicals in the glue are almost certainly going to harm your air plants.

A dying air plant

The first thing to do is check for root rot and act accordingly if that’s the cause of the problem, by removing any damaged roots. Secondly, if there are no signs of root rot but you notice signs of distress, the next step is to troubleshoot for other possible causes …

Adjusting the watering schedule will often help to solve most problems. We have a fantastic article about how to water Tillandsia the correct way on this website. Also, ensure adequate bright or filtered light, but avoid placing your air plants directly in full sunlight. Check for pests such as spider mites and mealybugs, and treat using a natural insecticide if necessary.

Also, try moving your air plants to an area where there’s decent airflow. Air circulation and humidity are essential for growing healthy Tillandsia.

As I mentioned above, consider adding a layer of moss between the wooden mount and your air plants. Moss helps to absorb any excess water and in so doing helps to protect the roots (if any) and saturation of the wood.

Make sure to mist the moss regularly to keep it moist and alive unless you don’t mind if it dries out and looks brown, which can also look attractive.

Author - Stephen Little
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