I’ve always believed that every single plant is a work of art. From weeds to orchids, their colors, patterns, shapes, and textures are captivating. But if there’s one genus that always stands out for me, it’s Tillandsia. I recently bought myself a few minis to add to my collection. Because they’re quite small, I couldn’t just plonk them down somewhere. They needed a haven where I could show them off and not worry about misplacing one. And what better way to do that than to make an inexpensive air plant shadow box that doubles up as living 3D art?

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

It’s the perfect way to celebrate the beauty of nature and add a creative touch to any space.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Plus, you get to put those little Tillies on display in a unique and special way. 

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make an air plant shadow box and share tips and tricks to create living 3D art. But before we get there, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!

What you need

  • Small air plants
  • Branch or other decorative materials (e.g., moss, stones, twigs, etc.)
  • Clear elastic bands
  • A shadow box or scrap wood to make your own.

We have loads of scrap wood, so I decided to make my own shadow box. I’ll share how you can put one together, just in case you can’t find the right size for your air plants.

What you need to create inexpensive living 3D art

How to use air plants in living 3D art

Choose a base

Air plants are easy to care for and require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for something like this. To start, you need a solid base to act as a canvas for your “living” art. Choose natural materials that will provide a stable foundation and complement the overall look you’re going for. My landscape scene sits in a scrap wood shadow box that I cobbled together.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

If you’re not keen to start cobbling 😉 you can use an old drawer or a shallow wooden crate. Just make sure it’s clean and air-plant-friendly. In other words, it hasn’t been stained with harsh chemicals or other funny stuff. I would advise against using pressure-treated wood since it probably contains copper, which is harmful to Tillies. To protect and seal the wood I used eco-friendly Beeswax Furniture polish

Making a scrap wood shadow box

If you’re making your shadow box from scratch, look for thick, sturdy, chunky planks. The wider the wood, the more room you will have to create that gorgeous 3D effect. I used scaffolding plank that’s weathered over time. Spruce, pine, and fir scaffolding is inexpensive and is about 4 cm thick (2”) and 22.5 cm wide, making it ideal for something like this. I cut mine lengthwise into 9 cm (3.5”) widths.

A view of the shadow box before joining up the sides

My shadow box is 37cm x 27cm (14.5″ x 10.5″). You can make yours bigger or smaller depending on the size of your Tillies and the decorative items you want to add. Cut the wood into four pieces to make: two sides, a top and a bottom.

Weathered scaffolding planks cut to size

Sand the cut pieces to smooth them out. I used 60-grit to level some deeply weathered areas out and finished with 120-grit.

Sand the wood to get rid on splinters

Before putting the shadow box together, add any “supporting” bits. I have no idea what the right word is, but I needed a headless nail in the bottom to keep my branch stable and secure.

A nail is hammered into the bottom of the shadow box before assembling

There was no way I’d be able to hammer the nail in once the shadow box was done. So bear that in mind when you make yours.

Cut the branch at an angle so it sits flush inside the air plant shadow box

I also added a few hooks to hang the Spanish moss.

Eye hooks can be used to hang Spanish moss

Once all the “supporting” bits were on, I could join the sides to form a rectangular frame or box.

Adding headless nails makes a stronger join

Check that the joins are square, and use clamps to hold the pieces together until the glue dries.

Check to ensure the shadow box sides are square

Paint or stain the frame to give it a finished look. I used Unicorn SPiT to stain mine.

Stain the inexpensive shadow box with a natural stain to avoid harming your air plants

Avoid using paint that contains lead or copper. They’ll make your Tillies sick, and we don’t want that.

Choose your air plants

Selecting the right air plant for your shadow box is important. There are more than 400 different types, each with its own unique shape, size, and color. Some air plants prefer more sunlight, while others would rather spend their time in a shady spot. Do your research to ensure you pick the right one for your space and the level of light they will receive. For my living art landscape, I choose Spanish Moss, Tillandsia Aeranthos, Tillandsia Fuchsii Gracilis, and Tillandsia ionantha ‘Rubra’ 

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

The Ionantha and Fuchsii both reminded me of tufts of grass……

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

While the stiff green leaves of the Aeranthos resembled an Aloe bainesii that grows wild in the coastal forests of Natal.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Look for healthy plants that are free of pests or diseases. If you see white, furry stuff on the leaves, that’s a good thing. That stuff is called trichomes, which are small hair-like structures that help air plants grab moisture in the air and absorb it. They’re essential and a sure sign that your plant is happy and healthy. 

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Plan your design

Lay out your air plants on your chosen base, experimenting with different arrangements until you find the one that works for you. Consider the size and shape of each plant, as well as it’s color and texture. You can use a variety of materials, such as driftwood, stones, or shells, to add more interest.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

To “stage” my small Tillies in this shadow box, I chose a dead branch from our weeping mulberry and cut one end at an angle so it would sit flush against the box frame.

Cut the branch at an angle so it sits flush inside the air plant shadow box

Since air plants already look dramatic, the branch and a mossy rock were all I needed to add.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Attaching the air plants

Once you have your design in place, you can attach your air plants. Many people attach their plants with a non-toxic adhesive, like E6000 or a hot glue gun. Use enough adhesive to hold the plants in place without damaging them. My personal preference is clear elastic hair bands. They’re inexpensive, come in different sizes, and removing the air plants for their weekly dunking in water is easy.

https://youtu.be/cJpJXAqzvIw

You can also tie them down with a fishing line. Make sure the fishing line or elastics aren’t too tight.

Watering your air plants

Air plants don’t require soil, but they do need to be misted or soaked in water regularly to survive. I usually dunk my air plants for about ½ hour in the sink and use ordinary tap water. I recommend letting the water sit in the sink for about an hour before adding the plants. Don’t use distilled water or softened water. There aren’t enough minerals and nutrients to keep your air plant happy.

Soaking the air plants (Tillandsia) in water once a week

Dry the air plants upside down on a paper towel before putting them back in the shadow box.

Drip dry the air plants (Tillandsia) on paper towels

Caring for your air plants

While all Tillies grow in air, their water and light needs may differ. Most air plants will burn in direct sunlight but they love bright, airy spaces.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Remember to keep an eye on your plants and adjust them as needed to ensure they continue to thrive.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Why a shadow box is great for displaying air plants.

If you want to draw attention to the otherworldly shapes and textures of air plants, or tillandsias, a shadow boxes is ideal. The deep box frame makes it easier to arrange your plants in a three-dimensional way and you end up with something that’s both functional and visually appealing.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

And if you add a few lights the shadows add a whole new gorgeous dimension to your living art. 

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

In addition, showcasing air plants inside a shadow box lets you position each plant in a way that highlights its unique shape and texture.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Shadow boxes also protect air plants from direct sunlight and drafts, allowing enough light and ample air to flow around the Tillies. 

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Overall, a shadow box can provide an ideal environment for air plants to grow and be displayed beautifully and functionally. When putting something like this together, let your creativity guide you, and have fun!

If you like the idea of making an inexpensive air plant shadow box and turning it into living art, don’t forget to pin it for later.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

Sharing is caring.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can make an air plant shadow box and create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

More ideas to display air plants.

Creating living 3D art with Tillandsias is an inexpensive way to add a unique and creative touch to any space. These plants require minimal maintenance, making them a great choice for busy people who still want to enjoy the beauty of nature. In this tutorial, we share how you can use air plants to create a stunning display that will bring life into any room. #ACraftyMix

How do you display your air plants? Let me know in the comments; I’m always looking for new ideas. Oh, BTW, if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry, it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us make more amazing crafts to share with you 😉

Shop Succulents | Assorted Collection of Tropical Tillandsia Air Plant Kit, Hand Selected Variety Pack | Collection of 12
Sale HOYOLS Clear Elastic Hair Rubber Bands, 1500pcs Mini Small Clear Ponytail Elastics Holders for Blond Kids Girls Hair No Crease Damage No Hurt 1 Inch TPU
Sale onlytak Multifunction Unfinished Wood, Wood for Crafts, Signs, Wall Decorations, Wall Arts, Storage Shelves, 16.5' x 5.9' x 0.59', Set of 3, Carbonized Black, Blank Wood Signs for Front Door

And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.

Dahey Gold Geometric Hanging Air Plant Holders - Set of 6 Square Metal Planters with Chains for Indoor Wall Decor
Mkono Air Plant Frame Hanging Airplant Holder Tillandsia Display Hanger Wooden Shelf Wall Decor for House Plants, Succulent, Christma Gifts for Plant Lovers, 16' (Plant Not Included)
J JACKCUBE DESIGN Air Plant Diamond Frame Hanging Airplant Holder, Rustic Wood Tillandsia, Succulent Plants Display Hanger Shelf for Wall Décor- MK1062A
Made with love by a Crafty Mix