Make a “Faux” Bonsai Tree with Air Plants

Remember, if your tree died, you killed it. They don’t commit suicide.” -Hec DeBrabant

If you have ever owned a Bonsai Tree you have most likely killed the cute little thing like many, many, many others have done. Of course, you don’t want to throw it out because you keep hoping for evidence of a recovery or a miracle but it never comes.

We have a really cool idea to bring life back to a Bonsai tree that’s been dead for as long as you can remember. This idea will just require watering and bright indirect light but NO Bonsai style pruning.

Our idea is using the fun and versatile air plants, also called, Tillandsia.

We’ll tell you what we did but there is always room for you to alter the steps depending on your taste.

We took the dead Bonsai out of it’s original pot and removed all the dirt from it’s roots.

Then we mixed up some Plaster of Paris and poured it into another container without drainage holes and set the dead Bonsai Tree into the plaster.

Then added some pebbles over the top of the wet plaster.

You can also wait until the plaster is dry and cover it in some moss or anything else you find attractive. If you don’t want the moss or whatever you choose to move, use glue.

Then we trimmed off some of the more brittle and excess branches and mostly left the stronger ones we needed for supporting the air plants.

We choose Tillandsia Tenuifolia because it reminds us of a pine and looks awesome on the Bonsai Tree. Also, you may want to use all the same type of plant to make it look consistent – or you could go all crazy and put all different kinds of air plants but then it probably won’t look like a Bonsai Tree so much.

We worked slowly as we held up each plant to see where we thought it would look best – tedious but worth it.

We took several inches (8-10) of galvanized steel wire (NO copper wire) and wound it around a branch to get it started.

Then applied some E6000 glue to the branch – then applied root of plant and continued wiring it down into the glue. You may not use the whole length of wire but it’s better to start with one that’s too long than too short – cut off excess.

Keep repeating that until you get the desired look. If you like, you can also dress up the areas where you see wire and glue with some moss.

As we said above, you do not prune air plants the way you would a real Bonsai so just water the air plant itself and keep it in bright indirect light.

Update: August 21

Here is another Faux Bonsai creation that IS for sale! SOLD! If you would like to b e notified of our local Sarasota sales, send us your email info by using our Contact Form.


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  1. […] This imitation bonsai tree DIY is made with real air plants, but it’s a zillion times easier to care for than a bonsai. Directions here. […]