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Tillandsia Care


Tillandsia is the largest genus in the family, with over 600 known species. They are typically gray-leafed plants native to bright, semiarid habitats; most do not hold water in their centers.  The care described here is largely intended for epiphyte types; for the soft-leafed tank types, follow the culture for Vriesea. Some Tillandsia have symmetrical rosettes of leaves others Tillandsias have twisted, undulating, curled leaves, still others have succulent leaves, or form hollow bulbous structures at the bases of the plants.  Some even develop long, almost vine like stems. The inflorescences range from barely visible with the flowers deep in the leaves, to long, multi branched spikes. The foliage of the spikeless species often turn pink, red, or lavender bracts enclosing the flowers. Tillandsia flowers are often bluish purple but may be of almost any color. Flowering of some species lasts only a couple days or weeks;  others remain colorful for several months. 

Light : Lighting for Tillandsia should be bright but filtered, put plant in indirect or diffused sunlight in summer as full summer sun could damage the leaves.During winter more direct sun is acceptable. If indoors, Tillandsia must be placed near a bright window for plant to grow florenscent. Place outdoors in summer, under tree or screened porch or pool..

Water : We recommended watering by drenching plants thoroughly then allowing to dry out before watering again. Water perhaps twice a week or more. If mounted you can mist between watering but this does not take the place of watering. Water morre in summer when hot and dry out. Do not keep always wet or they will rot. If plant is type that can be potted in bark / peat fiber soak but do not keep medium always wet, let dry out or plant will rot. They are called air plants because they grow on trees with good aircirculation.

*Tillandsias cannot survive in standing water (nor being planted in earth).

AIR : Epiphytic Tillandsias are less tolerant of dry air then tank type bromeliads.  Without the water storage reservoir to draw from, the plants tend to dehydrate in the dry air of most homes. They can do well indoors if proper watering is practiced. Compensate for drier conditions with a humidity tray, dish of rock / pebbles 1/2 filled with water that plant sets on top of.    

FEEDING : Can spray with Bromeliad, Orchid or houseplant fertilizer, once every two weeks spring and summer and once every four weeks autumn and winter after first watering diluted to one quarter the recommended strength. I recommend organic 'Worm Poop'.

POTTING AND MOUNTING :   Most tillandsias grow well when mounted on wood. Many will also grow well hanging on strings with no substrate, where they may form perfect spheres, some are grown on an open mesh tray that permits air circulation.

Species with symmetrical rosettes generally can be grown in pots, where they tend to grow much larger than if mounted. Those with irregular rosettes of twisted leaves and those with white (very scaly) leaves tend to occur in more arid habitats and generally do poorly in pots. Their roots are adapted to exposure on tree branches or rock surfaces; they require plentiful fresh air.