I fell in love last time I visited Costa Rica...with Epiphytes, otherwise known as air plants because they don't need soil to grow. All they need is something to hold onto (don't we all), indirect light, and moisture! They are the easiest plants to care for, indoors and outdoors, whatever the color of your thumb. Not only that, they can look so fabulous!

While at a neighborhood party last week, I was speaking to friend, who low and behold, has the same love of Epiphytes that I do! You just don't run across this special kind of person every day. The kind of person that will go to any length to salvage a piece of bark or rare scrap wood and store it until she can think of a special use for it.

Crystal, my new found "epifriend", invited me to her backyard workshop to view her latest creations.

These sweet little Epiphytes are called Tillandsias. They come in many varieties. some are larger with broad leaves, some are small with very narrow leaves, and some have an annual purple or pink bloom. Here, Crystal mounted a few varieties on salvaged bark along with moss to hang as an outdoor sculpture.

Here she mounted a Tillandsia on each small block of wood (tiger wood and purple heart) with a special glue called Tilly Tacker or you can use E6000 from your local hardware store. The glue does not damage the plant at all, yet it secures it permanently to the wood in a few minutes. Wouldn't these look great en mass down the center of a dining table?

She doesn't stop at Tillandsias, she has also taken on the Stag Horn ferns! She had me there, I had never attempted these beauties, but have always wanted to as they are so tropical and sculptural. 

In the stores they are incredibly expensive but, as she demonstrated to me, they are just as easy to care for as Tillandsias and multiply profusely if you care for them well.

Crystal had just completed the project of dividing her 100+ pound Stag Horn to create all of these smaller trophies. She used scrap bark, moss, and fishing line to secure them to the bark. The last step was to add a hanger to the back so they can be mounted on your garden fence or wall.

She also built a frame out of wood for one of the larger ones.

I was thrilled beyond comprehension (I get so excited about this stuff) when she sent me home with my first Stag Horn Fern that she had mounted to this incredible piece of redwood bark. I can't wait until mine is 100+ pounds, big enough to divide, so that I can hang them all over my tropical paradise and share them with friends!!

Until Crystal opens her own shop, you can find fantastic Tillandsias at Flowerland Nursery, Cactus Jungle, and Flora Grubb. The scrap wood can usually be picked up at your local specialty wood or lumber store. Crystal and I get ours at Macbeath Hardwoods

You can also find some pre-made frames at Flora Grubb Nursery.

and Tillandsia wreaths at Cactus Jungle.
I warn you though...Epiphytes can be addictive!