This Singaporean air plant collector makes amazing art displays that don't look like plants at all

He has over 200 air plants at home but he's not your usual plant collector.
Air plants, or tillandsias, survive on water moisture and nutrients from the air and do not need to be planted in soil.
Air plants, or tillandsias, survive on water moisture and nutrients from the air and do not need to be planted in soil.PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM/AIRPLANTARTISAN

(ASIAONE) - He has over 200 air plants at home but he's not your usual plant collector. 

Instead, financial consultant Daniel Goh calls himself the only air plant artisan in Singapore - he uses air plants and other materials such as wood, rocks, moss and figurines to create artistic display pieces which he either keeps at home or sells to friends who chance upon them.

The 47-year-old started creating such displays about three years ago after he received an air plant as a gift from a friend. He was initially fascinated by how the plant did not need soil to grow and gradually started buying more air plants to keep. He also read up about the plants and learned a great deal about them. 

But what exactly are air plants?

Air plants, or tillandsias, survive on water moisture and nutrients from the air and do not need to be planted in soil. They only need to be watered about once a week or every three to four days when the weather is slightly hotter. Mr Goh said he's even gone on a two-week vacation and returned to see that his air plants had survived.

There are about 550 species of air plants, and some famous members of the air plant family are the pineapple and Spanish moss. Because air plants are not soil-based, there are no mosquitoes or insects too, explained Mr Goh.

Although some may see air plants as just green, plain and boring, to Mr Goh, he sees them more of an art piece than a plant.

"Each air plant looks different and is unique. Making these creations calms me down. As I conceptualise the whole display, I learn to appreciate how the plants bend and spread, as well as the colours of each plant," said Mr Goh.

Some of his creations look like a Chinese landscape painting or something from a sci-fi movie. He has sold some of his displays for around $50 to $150 per piece. As for the fancier ones, the bachelor said he does not bear to part with them just yet.

"I may sell them eventually because if I continue to make these creations, I will start to run out of space at home," laughed Mr Goh.

In fact, Mr Goh has so many air plants that he may possibly have one of the largest collections in an HDB flat.

When we visited his four-room flat at Jurong West, the corridor outside his home was decorated with a vast variety of air plants that spanned almost 8 metres. Stepping into the common corridor was almost like stepping into a nursery.

His garden of air plants has become a natural habitat for birds and even his neighbours have grown to love it.

"My neighbours love what I'm doing because when they walk past the corridor every day, they get to look at the plants and sometimes they share with me that a plant has flowered," he said.

Although Mr Goh finds it hard to calculate how much he's spent on air plants alone, he explained that the bulk of his money is spent sourcing for natural materials to create his displays.

He sources for rocks and branches from aquarium shops, and pays a lot of attention to the unique shape of each material in order to craft his display pieces.

"Each display piece can contain more than one air plant and you don't need a big space to showcase it", said Mr Goh, who likened his art to ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. 

Mr Goh has given talks at Hort Park but hopes to host an exhibition of his pieces one day. But he also has a larger aspiration.

"My aspiration is to get kids away from tech gadgets and get them to be in touch with nature, even if it's indoors," he said.

He also added that it's time to do something that'll benefit our health.

"Because air plants are clean and non-soil based, they are a good alternative for people with allergies. 

"Making such creations is therapeutic and a good way to de-stress. This is something that is needed in such a busy city like Singapore", said Mr Goh.