Archive for the ‘Air Plants’ Category

Tillandsia recurvata

Common name: Ball Moss, Small Ball-Moss, Ballmoss, Bunch Moss

Family: Bromeliaceae

Synonymous: Renealmia recurvata
Diaphoranthema recurvata
Tillandsia monostachya
Tillandsia uniflora
Diaphoranthema uniflora
Tillandsia pauciflora
Tillandsia recurvata var. contorta
Tillandsia recurvata var. minuta
Tillandsia recurvata f. contorta
Tillandsia recurvata f. minuta
Tillandsia recurvata f. minor
Tillandsia recurvata f. elongata
Tillandsia recurvata var. ciliata
Tillandsia recurvata var. genuina
Tillandsia recurvata f. major
Tillandsia recurvata f. argentea
Tillandsia recurvata f. brevifolia
Tillandsia recurvata f. caespitosa

Tillandsia recurvata

Tillandsia recurvata

Distribution and habitat: Tillandsia recurvata is indigenous to the warmer regions of the Americas; it ranges from the southern United States to northern Argentina and Chile. The northernmost limit of its natural occurrence is coastal Georgia, although it has been introduced into coastal South Carolina on landscaping trees. It has been reported in nature from Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Mexico, most of Central and South America and many of the islands in the West Indies.
The epithet recurvata is derived from the way the leaves tend to curl back (recurved leaves).

Description: Tillandsia recurvata is gray-green with scaly, recurved, linear leaves 5-15cm (2-6 inch) long. The leaves occur in two ranks on opposite sides of the steam. The overlapping scales which cover the steams and leaves absorb water when they are wet (rain or fog). The scales are also responsible for the relative tolerance of cold weather of this species.  They tends to form a spheroid ranging in size from a golf ball to a soccer ball. In autumn they produce 15cm (6 inch) erect spikes with one to seven funnel-shaped,  1cm (0.5 inch) long flowers with pale blue or violet petals and gray-scaly bracts at their bases.  After flowering, produce club like greenish-brown seed capsules. Most seedlings germinate on tiny branches and less often on vertical bark of tree hosts, which has been suggested to indicate that local spread of Tillandsia recurvata is mainly by seeds sprouting from bird droppings on stems of shrubs and trees. Rival authorities suggest that wind is the main agent of seed dispersal. Mature seeds have no apparent adhesive on the exterior and very little nutrient supply to support sprouting, but, like many other epiphyte seeds, they are borne plentifully and are armed with fine, straight hairs that could well adhere to wet or clinging surfaces such as rough bark.
Tillandsia recurvata does not have roots.

Houseplant care: Tillandsia recurvata is an easy to grow and prolific plant. They are very common in the commercial houseplant trade and are often decoratively attached to pieces of rock or driftwood.

Light: Tillandsia recurvata used as house plants do best in bright filtered light (a translucent blind is a useful filter). The Tillansia recurvata  with its white scales can better handle sunlight than Tillansia  species with the smooth shiny leaves.
Leave outside in the rain during the summer and bring indoors when temperatures start falling below freezing. When moving plants outdoors, gradually accustom them to increased light levels and never place them where they must endure the midday sun. When shifted to bright light too quickly, their leaves can sunburn.

Temperature: Room temperature ranging from 10 to 32°C (50-90°F) are fine for Tillandsia recurvata. These plant will adapt well to dry atmosphere by becoming dormant,  but thrives when is spray mist. They appreciate fresh air movement, so moving plant outdoor when the temperature allows is beneficial.

Watering: Soak Tillandsia recurvata  (fully submerged)  once a week during active growing season for 30 minutes to an hour, then shake them and allow to almost completely dry before replacing them in any kind of enclosure. The water should be dried in 4 hours. Do not use distilled water or softened water. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water are fine. Pond water, aquarium or rain water are all preferred.
Water sparingly during the winter.
Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular waterings in dry climates to increase the humidity.
During the holidays, to leave alone the plant unattended for over two weeks, soak Tillandsia recurvata  in water for 12 hours before going in holiday and again for 12 after returning from holiday.

Feeding: Tillandsia recurvata does not require fertilising. However, an occasional dilute solution of foliar fertiliser applied during the growing season will speed up the growth.

Mounting: Hang a portion up with a wire and Tillandsia recurvata will form a cool-looking ball-shaped cluster.

Gardening: Tillandsia recurvata is relatively cold-tolerant species, but is sensitive to freezing, particularly when moist. It can tolerate temperatures as low as  minus 6°C (20°F).

Location: Tillandsia recurvata grows well in areas with low light, little airflow and high humidity, which is commonly provided by southern shade trees, often the Quercus virginiana (Southern Live Oak). It can grow in full sun but is happiest under a tree canopy.

Irrigation: Tillandsia recurvata  absorbs water from rain and can tolerate dry periods by becoming dormant. Tillandsia recurvata , like other bromeliads, is sensitive to lime. Irrigate with rain water or water that has been demineralized. To get the water where it needs to be, in the leaf axils and on the stems, use a sprayer or mister.

Fertilising: An occasional mist with quarter strength of foliar fertiliser applied during the growing season will speed up the growth.

Propagation: In nature, Tillandsia recurvata is propagating by seed. The dispersed tiny seeds that land on a tree branch, stick fast and develop root-like attachments to the bark.
Tillandsia recurvata, as ornamental plant, is propagate by dividing the balls. Clumps can be pulled apart to start new plants.

Tillandsia recurvata is especially sensitive to lime, use pond water, aquarium or rain water ( low pH ) water for watering. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water are fine.

Do not plant Tillandsia recurvata in soil and do not allow them to stay wet for long time as they are prone to root.

Note: Tillandsia recurvata is a flowering plant that grows upon larger host plants. It derives mainly physical support and not nutrition from its host; it photosynthesizes its own food. It gets water and nutrients from the rain, atmosphere and dust. Tillandsia recurvata is a nitrogen fixer, meaning that it is able to convert atmospheric nitrogen (which is unusable to plants, except by legumes) into a form that plants can use. Though not a harmful parasite in the same sense as plants such as mistletoes that feed on the sap of the host, Ball Moss may compete with a host tree for sunlight and some nutrients and by restricting available surface area for new branch sprouts; however, except on stressed host trees (e.g., in some urban settings) it rarely has a noticeable effect on growth or health. When Tillandsia recurvata ball falls to the ground, it actually fertilizes the soil for other plants.
Despite their common name, the ‘ball mosses’ are not really mosses; Tillandsia recurvata are actually perennial flowering plants in the Bromeliad family and are closely related to Ananas comosus (Pineapples) and Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss).
Tillandsia recurvata is the only epiphyte that regularly lives on telephone wires. Clumps of Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish Moss) sometimes land on wires, but they do not survive.

Uses and display: Tillandsia recurvata can be grown like other bromeliads or orchids, tied to a decorative piece of wood or tree bark or in an orchid basket.  Also, they are used as slow-growing decorative plants for terrestrial terrariums.


Foliage – green
Shape – spheroid cluster
Features – flowers
Height: 15-30cm (6-12 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 16°C (50-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 8a-11


Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvata Tillandsia recurvataTillandsia recurvataTillandsia recurvata

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Tillandsia stricta

Common name: Tillys, Air Plant, Airplant, Erect Tillandsia, Upright Air Plant

Family: Bromeliaceae

Synonymous: Anoplophytum strictum
Tillandsia rosea
Tillandsia conspersa
Anoplophytum bicolor
Anoplophytum krameri
Tillandsia langsdorffii
Tillandsia krameri

Tillandsia stricta

Tillandsia stricta

Distribution and habitat:  Tillandsia stricta is native to Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, growing either on both the sands of beach dunes and in trees in the foothills of the Atlantic Range. This means that this plant has adapted to lots of different climates and would have leaves to match this diversity.
Despite the fact Tillandsia stricta is typically an epiphyte, growing upon another plant to collect light, water and nutrients, it is not an parasite plant. These plants use their roots only to anchor upon their host and they  rely solely on leaves to absorb water and nutrients.

Description: Tillandsia stricta are evergreen, clump-forming, short-stemmed, epiphytic perennials with leaves arranged into thick rosettes. They are a compact species to about 10cm (4 inch) across. There is a large number of variations that can be found in Tillandsia stricta plants: from soft leaved specimens to much harder, stiffer types and different coloured forms from light green leaves to silvery leaves and even verging on black. In early summer, they produce, when mature, bright red or bright rose bloom spikes with bright blue flowers. The spike is first held upright but then droops as it lengthens. The actual flowers are not long-lived, lasting for about a day at best, before it starts wilting, but the colourful bracts remain attractive for up to 10 weeks.
Tillandsia stricta hard leaf is one of the most vibrantly colored blooms in the genus and form a wonderful clump over time. The forms of Tillandsia stricta with gray-scaly, pale green leaves are adapted to take more sunlight than the green forms.
Tillandsia stricta plants, like other airplants, have little or no roots and absorb most or all of the water and food through their leaves. The eventual roots are used by these plants only to attache themselves to rocks or tree hosts.
The origin of this plant’s scientific name epithet (stricta) means ‘erect’ and describe the upright habit of this plant.

House plant care: Tillandsia stricta, after the initial introduction into their new home (about a month), have a much better chance of surviving in home condition than a potted plant. These plants are extremely adaptable, require low maintenance and can withstand some time of neglect.

Light: Bright filtered light is the general rule for Tillandsia stricta plants and the higher the humidity of the air the higher light will be tolerated. Place them at no more than 3m (10 feet) from the window. Direct sunlight may cause sunburn and leave unsightly marks on plants.
Tillandsia stricta can be grown in artificial light. Full spectrum artificial light (fluorescent) is best. The plant should be placed no further than 90cm (35 inch) from the fluorescent tubes and can be as close as 15cm (6 inch). A four-tube 122cm (48 inch) fixture works well. Bulbs can be any full spectrum type. Incandescent bulb are not suitable for plants grow lights. Provide 12 hours light per day.

Temperature: Optimum temperature range for Tillandsia stricta is 10 to 32°C (50-90°F). They also need moving air, not closed stale conditions. During the summer it is recommended to move this plant outside, in a shaded position to benefit from fresh air.
If Tillandsia stricta is kept in a terrarium, make sure they have air openings and is not placed where sunlight could magnify heat through the glass housing. An occasional placement in an shady outdoor place for a day can revive it.

Watering: Thoroughly wet Tillandsia stricta once a week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in a cool, humid one. Soak them (fully submerged) for 30 minutes to an hour, then shake them and allow to almost completely dry before replacing them in their globe or any kind of enclosure. If the plant is boasting a flower bloom, do not submerge the actual flower (just the body of the plant) as the esthetic appeal of the flower is permanently compromised.
Do not use distilled water or softened water. Filtered water, tap water that has sat long enough for the chlorine to dissipate, bottled water are fine. Pond water, aquarium or rain water are all preferred.
Plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in no longer than 4 hours after watering. If the plant dries within a very short period of time, it is not hydrating at all.
Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular waterings in dry climates to increase the humidity.
If the plant is in a shell, be sure to empty the water out. Tillandsia stricta will not survive in standing water.
It is much better to water in the morning than at night. Airplants absorb the carbon dioxide from the air at night instead of the day time. If the plant is wet, it does not breath therefore, unless it can dry quickly at night, plan on morning baths.

Feeding: For Tillandsia stricta plants fertilising is not vital. Occasional fertiliser in water will speed up the growth, reproduction of pups and gain a more vibrant bloom. Apply a water soluble foliage fertiliser at quarter strength recommended on the label only during the warm months of reproduction.

Mounting: Tillandsia stricta can be grown basically anywhere, on rocks, in a seashell or on coral, in ceramic or pottery, attached to wood, but first should be considered how the plants are going to be watered. Also they should placed in a position accordingly with plants need for light. The following attaching materials are suitable to be used in air plants mounting: waterproof glue, plumbers glue, goop, shoe glue, Tilly tracker, fishing line, twisty ties, strings or even nails. Only use nails and stapling to tie around the plant. Nailing or stamping through the body of the plant will kill it. Also, do not not use superglue or copper wire as these will kill the plant.

Propagation: At the base of the mature plants will appear one to three pups or young plants that will grow to replace the mother plant now blooming that will degrade and die soon after. They will take a year to grow as large as their mother. The plant will multiply during the year with simultaneous blooms in a whole clumping community. The clump can be left to continuously grow or separate one or more pups to start new families. It is important to allow the pups to grow to 1/3 or half of the size of the original plant before removing it from the parent plant.  To separate the pups, grip with one hand the base of the mother and the base of the grown up pup in the other hand and tug apart with a slight twist. It should be easy to separate them and will not hurt the plants.
Tillandsia stricta is one of the fastest growing tillandsias from seeds. There are many cultivars of this species. Tillandsia stricta has been used in hybridization with other species such as Tillandsia albertiana and Tillandsia recurvifolia to obtain new hybrids that exhibit characteristics of both species.

Gardening: Tillandsia stricta are curious plants that may be grown outdoors as long as temperatures do not drop below 7°C (45°F).

Position: To grow Tillandsia stricta, locate this plant in a well ventilated place where there is under a shade with lots of indirect daylight and protection from hot sun. A brief morning or evening sun – about 1 hour – is fine especially for the northern climates.

Irrigation: In temperate climate with some humidity, Tillandsia stricta hanging in a tree may never need to be watered. Otherwise outdoor plants can be sprayed with a water hose twice a week for 5-6minutes and let to dray in plenty of day light. Misting them once a week is helpful but is not a substitute for soaking.
If grown outdoors, keep dry during winter.

Fertiliser: From mid spring through fall, mist daily and once a month, mist with quarter strength water soluble fertiliser.

Do not plant Tillandsia stricta in soil and do not allow them to stay wet for long time as they are prone to root.
Treatment: Rotting areas on plant need to be removed to prevent spreading the rot.

Most commonly, Tillandsia stricta die as a result of water setting in the centre of the plant for too long.

Under-watering is evidenced by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf, void of vitality or brown tipped leaves.
Treatment: Soak the plants as indicated on watering section.

Lighter colour in leaves is a sign that the plants needs more daylight.

Note: Tillandsia are some of the oldest members of the plant kingdom. This genus includes over 600 species. Not all of the 600 plus Tillandsia species are easy to maintain and cultivated as ornamental plants. On average, there are approximately 40-60 species available for sale and an appreciable number of hybrids and cultivars.

Buying tips: Steps that should be taken upon arrival of new air plants are the following: To reduce the plant stress, give them a bath for about 20-30 minutes. Simply soak them in a bowl of lukewarm water. Next lay them out to dry completely. Then they can be planted in a glass terrarium, mount them on a wall display or use them in other arrangements. The unsightly roots, if any, can be cut off and the brown leaves can be peeled off.
Do not fertilise plants for three weeks following their arrival, but be sure to follow directions for light and water.

Holidays: To leave alone the plant for over two weeks, soak Tillandsia stricta in water for 12 hours before going in holiday and again for 12 after returning from holiday.
Another option is to set them outdoors in all day shady area where the automatic water sprinkler system can water them twice a week.

Uses and display: Tillandsia stricta plants are suitable for epiphyte branches. They can be displayed to grace a tabletop, adorn the walls, drape across windows or nest among other plants. Tillandsia stricta grown in glass globes are becoming very popular and trendy way to display. Outdoors, grow Tillandsia stricta plant in dappled (partial) shade mounted upon a tree branch or crotch where it receives natural rainfall and has good air circulation. Use it as a tropical hanging basket specimen or as a companion to orchids in slatted wood trays. It can be grown upon a pot of coarse tree bark nuggets when young. Once it clumps into a rounded cluster, it can be set on a tray or table outdoors in frost-free regions.
Tillandsia stricta way of displays are unlimited from a single plant to collections of Tillandsia plants, from terrariums and holders to more natural mounts, from vertical gardens to container gardening or gather many of Tillandsia species together and frame them in a painting-like fashion.


Foliage – green
Shape – rosette
Features – flowers
Height: 15-30cm (6-12 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 16°C (55-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Tillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia strictaTillandsia stricta Tillandsia stricta hard leaf Tillandsia stricta soft leafTillandsia stricta

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Guzmania lingulata

Common name: Scarlet Star, Droophead Tufted Airplant

Family: Bromeliaceae

Synonyoums: Guzmania peacockii
Nidularium splendens
Tillandsia clavata
Tillandsia lingulata

Guzmania lingulata

Guzmania lingulata

Distribution and habitat: Guzmania lingulata is an evergreen perennial plant, native to tropical wet and humid forest from Central and South America. Some of Guzmania lingulata grow terrestrially, but most of them are epiphyte in their natural habitat, growing on trees and rocks. These epiphytes do not cause any damage to their host, as their roots act primarily as an anchor rather than an organ which extract water and nutrients from the host.

Guzmania lingulata only bloom a single time. As the plants grow by adding new leaves from the center, it becomes impossible to continue growth after flowering since the inflorescence blocks new leaf growth. The plants direct their energy into growing new vegetative offsets (pups) from growing buds at the base of the leaves.

Description: Guzmania lingulata is a quite a variable species; individual specimens differ considerably in some respects. Characteristic of the species are smooth green leaves 45cm (18 inch) long and 2cm (0.8 inch) wide, with a flower stalk up to 30cm (12 inch) long bearing small yellow flowers in the centre of a cup-shaped or funnel-shaped flower head of 4cm (1.5 inch) long crimson bracts.

The leaves come together to form a star shape in the middle. Perhaps Guzmania lingulata is most famous for its brilliant pink or red flower bracts, but also can be found in shades of yellow and orange depending on the variety. What appears to be the flower on the plant is actually a grouping of modified leaves, called bracts. They are green at the beginning and little by little they start to colour in bright colours depending on their variety. These bracts can last for about 5 months. The true flowers do not rise above the bracts, having a brief couple of days blooming period. Once the true flowering has taken place, the plant begin to wither and dies, but before dying it will produce offsets that grow at the base of the plant. Guzmania lingulata reaches its maturity in about 3 or 4 years, period of time after that it will to be able to flower.

Guzmania lingulata grows about 30cm (12 inch) high and 45cm (18 inch) wide.

Houseplant care: Cut away spent inflorescence to look tidy and divert the plant’s energy to producing more plantlets. If necessary, trim back the leaves of the parent plant to allow freer growth of their pups.

Light: Guzmania lingulata like bright filtered light. They will not flower if they are too far from a window.

Temperature: Give these plants temperatures above 18°C (64°F) with high humidity. Stand the pots on trays of damp pebbles and mist-spray the foliage every day.

Be especially careful during the winter not to let Guzmania lingulata become too cold and dry. To increase humidity place the Guzmania lingulata near other plants or in parts of the house that are naturally more humid such as the bathroom or kitchen.

Water: Water moderately and mist regularly in summer. Outside the flowering period the rosette should be kept filled with water. Change water every 3 to 4 weeks to keep it from rotting. Use soft water.

Never put water in the bracts or flowering portion of the plant. It will shorten the life of the flower.

Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks not only to the potting mixture but over the foliage and into the central cup.

Potting and repotting: Use the potting mixture recommended for bromeliads. Since these plants have little root, 7-10cm (3-4 inch) pots should be large enough. If a plant needs more room, move it into a pot at least one size larger in spring.

Note that Guzmania lingulata are usually top heavy, so be sure to anchor the pot well with heavy rock on the bottom or use a heavy pot.

Bark Mounted: Because they are epiphytes, Guzmania lingulata do not require soil to grow and sometimes is refereed as a air plant. When cultivated as an epiphyte the plants are mounted on a piece of bark or a branch (e.g. Taxus or Thuja) and the roots are wrapped in Sphagnum moss. When grown as an epiphyte misting daily usually is sufficient. Use soft water and mist the plant in the early morning if it possible. Keep the center of the plant filled with water. Empty the center or cup of the plant every couple of weeks and replace the old, stale water with fresh water.
Keep the plant barely moist (no misting) in winter.

Garden Culture: Guzmania lingulata prefer a sunny to half-shady situation on peat and sand moist soil.  They are hardy to hardiness zone 10. In summer the plants prefer protection from hot midday sun. Water regularly. Keep the center of the plant filled with water but allow the soil to dry out between each wetting. Their centers are kept full of water. They grow best in high humidity but tolerate drier air. Do not overwater them. Fertilizing helps them grow bigger, mature faster, and produce larger inflorescences.

Propagation: In spring cut offsets from the parent, but not before the offsets are 8cm (3 inch) long. Insert each offset in a 5-6cm (2-2.5 inch) pot of bromeliads mixture, keep it bright filtered light and water it moderately. When the offset is well rooted (in about six months) move it into a pot one size larger and treat it as a mature Guzmania lingulata.

These plantlets mature and bloom within a few years.

Brown patches on the leaves may be caused by direct exposure to sun.

Brown tips on the leaves usually indicate insufficient humidity in the air.

In their natural habitat, most Guzmania plants grow on the branches of other trees, not in soil, and they are prone to root rot.

The main pests of this bromeliads are scale and mealy bugs. Scale will look like little round dots covering the top or bottom of the leaves. Mealy bug will look like a white cottony patch.
Treatment: For small outbreaks, these can both be treated by wiping over them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. For more wide spread infestations, try mixing a little mild dishwashing detergent or baby shampoo with water and spraying the infected plants. The soap will coat and suffocate the insects. It is recommended to rinse the plants off with clean water to make sure the pores on the leaves are open so the plant can breathe. DO NOT use heavy oil based insecticides as these are likely to choke the plant as well.

Notes: Bromeliads can be forced to flower by exposing it to ethylene gas that can be emitted from a ripen apple. Place the plant inside a clear plastic bag with a ripe apple for two to three days. Depending on the type of plant, flowering will begin in six to fourteen weeks.

Recommended varieties:
Guzmania lingulata cardinalis is a little larger than the species plant and has bracts of an even stronger red.

Guzmania lingulata minor is growing less than 30cm (12 inch) tall and has leaves only about 10cm (4 inch) long and a cup-shaped flower head on a short, stumpy stem carrying variably coloured bracts.

Availability: Guzmania lingulata is usually sold at the beginning of its flowing period in mid summer to early fall and the flower will last for many months.

Uses: Guzmania lingulata are used very successfully in indoor commercial situations such as shopping malls and office buildings. They add dazzling color and a tropical feel to any room. Get one for the office, too, and make a bold statement. It grows well under the fluorescent light of offices and is wonderfully stunning tabletop plant..

Grown outdoors, it will be most ideal in front-of-the-border grouping in garden beds or borders, as well as a landscaping plant for rock gardens.

Guzmania lingulata can be grown for cut flowers, used in live floral arrangements or to enliven shaded patios and gardens during the warmer months. It can be grown as an epiphyte mounted on a piece of bark or a branch.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – rosette
Height: 30-45cm (12-18 inch)
Spacing: 38-45 cm (15-18 inch)

Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 27°C (64-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Guzmania lingulata cardinalisGuzmania lingulata minor









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Tillandsia usneoides

Common Names: Old Man’s Whiskers, Spanish Moss, Tillandsia Spanish Moss, Grey Beard

Family: Bromeliaceae

Tillandsia usneoides

Tillandsia usneoides

Distribution and habitat: Tillandsia usneoides is a flowering plant that grows upon larger trees, commonly the Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) or Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the south-eastern United States. It grows hanging from tree branches in full sun or partial shade. Its natural range is from Virginia Beach, Virginia in the south-eastern United States to Argentina, growing wherever the climate is warm enough and has a relatively high average humidity. It has been introduced to similar locations around the world, including Hawaii and Australia.
While it rarely kills the trees, it lowers their growth rate by reducing the amount of light to a tree’s own leaves. It also increases wind resistance, which can be fatal to the host tree in a hurricane. In the southern United States, the plant seems to show a preference of growth on Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) or Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) because of these trees’ high rates of foliar mineral leaching (calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus) providing an abundant supply of nutrients to the plant, but it can also colonize other tree species such as Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), crepe-myrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.), other oaks and even pines.

Description: Tillandsia usneoides is an epiphyte which absorbs nutrients (especially calcium) and water from the air and rainfall.
The plant consists of a slender stem bearing alternate thin, curved or curly, heavily scaled leaves 2–6cm (0.79–2.4 inch) long and 1mm (0.039 inch) broad, that grow vegetatively in chain-like fashion (pendant) to form hanging structures up to 6m (240 inch) in length. The tread-like stems covered with grey scales are in reality, minute, scaly leaves. The plant has no aerial roots  and its flowers are tiny and inconspicuous. The tiny, pale green flowers that appears in the leaf axil of wild Tillandsia usneoides, rarely bloom on plants grown indoors. The flowers, with a musk fragrance, appear in the warmer months.

Proper care:
Light: Tillandsia usneoides used as house plants do best in bright filtered light (a translucent blind is a useful filter).

Temperature: Tillandsia usneoides will grow actively through the year if the temperature in kept above 15°C (59°F); they cannot tolerate temperature below 13°C (55°F).

Mist-spray Tillandsia usneoides daily.

Watering: Watering is essential for good growth, a soaking every day or two in summer and fortnightly in winter will keep the plant at peak condition. Submerge the plant along with its base in water for 10 minutes.

Avoid hot or dry environments and full sunlight unless sprinkler systems are installed or regular watering is available. Tillandsia usneoides will tolerate full sun in moister climates; in arid climates it must be sheltered.

Fertilising: Occasional fertiliser in water will speed up the growth.

Potting and repotting: Tillandsia usneoides is not actually use as a potted plant being rootless.

Propagation: Wild Tillandsia usneoides propagates both by seed and vegetatively by fragments that blow on the wind and stick to tree limbs, or are carried by birds as nesting material.
To propagate Tillandsia usneoides detach a few stems and wire them to a piece of cork or bark.

Problems: Tillandsia usneoides does not suffer from diseases or pests other that birds can use the plant as nesting material in spring.

Uses: In the wild this unusual, virtually rootless plant hangs from trees and rocks in long, tangled festoons. Tillandsia usneoides for this reason is not actually use as a potted plant. Instead, many indoor gardeners attach a few sections of the tangled mass to a 5cm (2 inch) square piece of cork or bark, tying the fine stem on loosely with plastic coated or copper wire and hanging the cork on a hook.

It can also be trained around garden decorations and it looks pretty growing on the branches of a silver birch tree. It can also be used to accompany other bromeliads or epiphytic orchids grown on a tree fern or in tree branches.


Foliage – green
Shape – Trailing
Height: 6m (240 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 16°C (55-61°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 7a-11

Tillandsia usneoides






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Tillandsia Ionantha

Common Names: Living Airplant

Small compact species to 8cm, clustering habit, flowers appear in warmest months on red foliage, hardy, great indoors.

Tillandsia Ionantha

Tillandsia Ionantha

Tillandsias – Nature true wonders, able to take all water and food through their leaves these remarkable plants are masters at adaptation, the lazy gardeners ideal companion.

Location: Outdoor in partly shaded areas, in cold climates in a dry position, in warmer areas almost anywhere.  Silver varieties can take more sunlight.

Planting: Tillandsias can be attached to objects with the use of plastic coated wire, tie wire, hot melt glue or any non toxic glues onto any object. The plant feeds through its leaves not roots.

Watering: Tillandsias require regular;ar watering as they have no access to water like normal plants and rely only on the water stored in their leaves. Water can be applied by hose, watering can, mist spray bottle or dunking. A good soaking is required. In hot or dry areas they can be watered up to twice a week and in cooler, more moist environments every one to three weeks. Tillandsias should be allowed to almost dry out between waterings. A weak dose of fertilizer can be added to water in summer mounts.

Flowering: Flowers appear once plant is mature, this can take 4 to 20 years depending on variety, once flowered new plants will appear which will flower once the new plants are mature.

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Neoregelia Lilliputiana

Common Names: Vase Plant, Mini Neo’s

Miniature species fully grown at 8cm. Fast growing small blue flowers appear when mature. Hardy, great indoors or outdoors.

Neoregelia Lilliputiana

Neoregelia Lilliputiana

Neoregelia Lilliputiana are a hardy group of bromeliads used for planting on trees and walls. Offsets generally appear on long runners allowing plants to spread rapidly or grow over objects. Neoregelia Lilliputiana can grow from 8cm across to 20cm across, flowers appear from the central vase and are mostly blue.

Location: Neoregelia Lilliputiana are great in any sunny or partially shaded positions, the more sun the brighter the colours, indoor the more light the better. In very cold climates some cover will improve the growth.

Planting: Neoregelia Lilliputiana can be grown on or in almost anything. The do just as well in a pot as planted on a branch, many varieties can also grow in the garden. When planted without soil some moss can be packed around the plant base to encourage roots to start. Water should be kept in the centre of plants over the warmer months and soil well watered but allowed to be touch dry between waterings. Weak doses of fertilizer will improve growth but may reduce colours if used to often.

Flowering: All bromeliads are able to flower once they are mature unless kept to dark. Flowering is triggered by the presence of composting gasses, in clean environments this may not be present so flowering may not occur. Adding liquid from rotting fruit will allow flowering to occur.

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