Can I Keep an Air Plant Alive?


I am notoriously bad with plants and I know exactly why. I habitually neglect my plants’ basic needs after a short period of caring for them. Even when I’m really trying, I seem to always overwater, underwater, or place the plant in too much or too little sunlight. After a while, I give up and decide that if I can’t keep my vegetables, herbs or flowers safely away from the brink of death even when I’m trying my hardest, I just won’t try at all.

By the end of the summer, my yard and porch look like the aftermath of a disaster, with just a few hardy and hopeful sprigs hanging on to life. Only the plants that can survive with no human intervention will make it. So I have a four year old thyme plant and a bunch of chives that come back to life every year, and a persistent mint plant, and not much else to show for my minimal effort and abundant good intentions.


I feel somewhat guilty about this, but not guilty enough to actually change or improve my gardening skills. It makes me sad that I can’t be surrounded by thriving flora, because I do really like plants. And not just in the way that a bacon lover likes pigs. I would like to keep some non-edible plants around me, because nature makes me happy, so what I’m searching for is a hardy plant that requires very little skill or effort to keep alive.

My sister gave me this beautiful geometric brass plant hanger for my birthday this year. It’s supposed to house air plants, which are supposed to be very easy to care for. They require no soil and very little sunlight. You only have to water them once a week, which is a process that entails soaking them in water, drying them off, and putting them back in their home. Sounds easy right?


Fear of failure with the air plants has prevented me from going out and buying one for four months. I feel like this is my last shot at gardening and I don’t want to blow it. My Pinterest and Instagram feeds are flooded with cute minimalist shots of air plants in modern planters on white backgrounds, and I know that I will probably eventually face the truth that I’m not hip enough to be a part of this trend, but I also feel compelled to try. Last weekend I bought two Tillandsia plants at The Great Big Greenhouse, a local nursery and plant store in Richmond. I’m giving it a try.


This whole thing stresses me out in a way that modern minimalist design is really not supposed to do, right? Why do I have such anxiety about whether I can make this work? Come on geometric air plant hanger, SPARK JOY, why don’t you?

I might not be very good at this hip modern thing. Time will tell if I can be cool and keep the dream alive. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for something old fashioned.


Orange Cranberry Old Fashioned

This is a basic old fashioned, made with orange cranberry ice cubes for a little holiday flavor. I used a garnish tool to peel strips of orange rind, then I juiced the orange, and poured the orange juice with bits of orange peel and dried cranberries into an ice cube tray to freeze.

cranberryorangeiceInstead of watering your drink down over time, these cubes will flavor your drink over time. Could this be the new old fashioned way?

  • 1.5 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 2 tsp. simple syrup (or 1 tsp. turbinado + 1 tsp. boiling water, stirred until dissolved then cooled)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 orange cranberry ice cubes (see description above for instructions)
  • 1 slice of orange

Mix first three ingredients, pour over ice cubes in a glass and stir. Garnish with slice of orange. Enjoy!

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