Air Plants & Handcrafted Houses: Q&A With My House Party

Shari Altman

Photo by Abby Powell-Thompson
I am completely charmed by My House Party. After purchasing a tiny, handcrafted house and air plant of my very own, I decided to ask husband and wife dynamic duo, Mike and Jessica, a few questions about their homegrown, handmade business.

Photo by My House Party
What's the inspiration behind My House Party?

Mike: It started as a gift idea for Jessica. I was initially going to collect driftwood for her to display the air plants I bought her by cutting little niches into the wood. I couldn’t find any good driftwood, and I had some basswood sheets so I made little houses for the plants. It was sort of a natural choice as I come from a background in architecture and really enjoy designing with small models.

Which comes first, the house or the plant?

Mike: The plant. I try to design the houses in such a way as the plant is not too obscured by the house or so that the plant does not over take the house. I try to make the house appropriate to the natural shape of the plant.

Tell us a little about how air plants grow and what home care is needed.

Jessica: Air plants or Tillandsias do not require soil since water and nutrients are absorbed in the air through their leaves. You can find them growing wild in South and Central America hanging on trees or clung to rocks.

They can be placed in or on almost anything and are not toxic to animals (yay!). Air plants will do best in bright, indirect sunlight and full-spectrum fluorescent lights. Mist your plant a few times a week, and submerge in water for 30 minutes once a month. Almost every air plant will bloom once in its lifetime and then begin to seed or produce pups from the base, so you can enjoy them for a very long time.

Photo by My House Party
Do you have any favorite gardening books or websites?

Jessica: Mike likes to check out all the tomato varieties on Tomatofest. Having an online business keeps us on the computer for a good bit of time, so we try to do our best to go out and be inspired by naturescapes and gardens outside. It’s easy to do here in Portland.

There are a few books I tend to reference quite a bit though, such as:
The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin, Kindra Clineff
1001 Hints & Tips for your Garden by Readers Digest
Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler
Gardening 101 by Martha Stewart

Current loves and inspirations?

Mike: Old barns and rural homes from the early 20th and late 19th century are always on that list as that’s what I grew up with and it is a core part of how my own personal aesthetic developed. I recently walked through the old part of Portland, Oregon’s downtown and really loved the old simple brick buildings that make up that part of town.

What's next for my house party?

Mike: I’m considering going a bit bigger with the houses. Instead of houses for plants I’d like to design some indoor houses for cats and small dogs. I saw some chicken coops at a garden store the other day and thought I could make some interesting designs for those as well. There are a lot of people making those so I’m not sure about it, plus I’d need a real workshop to construct them… maybe that’s more of an idea for the long term.

My House Party Guide to Air Plants by Jessica

tiny house/plant: neglecta
The Neglecta is one of my favorites because of its size. Like a tiny green porcupine, small and spiky, it tends to grow in a curl formation.

love house/plant: kolbi

The Kolbi is another small variety that we use in our love house. Longer leaves with blushing tips that tend to get redder if you have them in a sunnier spot. They bloom from the center with long and purple blossoms.

wide house/plant: recurvata

We refer to these as our tumbleweeds. They come in gnarly grassy clumps with light purple blossoms. After blooming they produce a seed pod that will eventually open up like a flower and release clumps of fuzzy seeds.

tall house/plant: seleriana

The Seleriana is a soft and delicate plant with blushing tips and a blossom similar to the Kolbi. It tends to have long tangly roots that are fun to display as well.

Jessica and Mike sell their handcrafted houses with corresponding air plants at my house party. They also have a blog where you can keep up with their work and inspirations.

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