New in the Nursery: Tillandsia

Categories: Grow

With our attention focused on the vegetable garden as harvest season gets underway, we've been in search of plants for the home that have a simple care regimen. Luckily, the newest additions to our nursery include large-scale Tillandsia, commonly known as air plants. When choosing Tillandsia, the possibilities are almost endless-- there are over 500 varieties of these hardy bromeliads! We filled a hanging basket with three of our favorites, shown above, for a low-maintenance garden.

A. Tillandsia xerographica: Native to Central America, this spiky, silver-gray plant is slow-growing, but can reach three feet in diameter. Dense and sculptural, its leaves grow in a rosette formation from which a single, reddish bloom emerges. Tillandsia xerographica blooms can last for months, and grow up to three feet tall on larger plants. Found on the highest branches of trees in dry forests, this variety enjoys plentiful light.

 B. Tillandsia sp.: One of the most common Tillandsia, this fast-growing plant thrives in a variety of growing conditions. Native to Brazil and Venezuela, their colors can range from deep green to silver-gray. Their brightly colored flowers are short-lived, lasting approximately 24 hours when they emerge in spring. Tolerant to high temperatures and humidity, they prefer an environment with plenty of indirect sunlight and good air flow.

C: Tillandsia usneoides: Better known as Spanish Moss, this hanging plant is found on tree branches from Virginia to Argentina. The chain-like stems can reach 10 feet in length, each one made of small, individual leaves. Spanish Moss produces petite, inconspicuous blooms and thrives in warm environments with high average humidity. In the wild, Spanish Moss most commonly grows on Southern Live Oak or Bald Cypress, from which it leaches essential nutrients and minerals.

Like all epiphytic plants, Tillandsia derive water and nutrients through their leaves rather than a root system. They prefer nighttime temperatures that are 10-15 degrees cooler than daytime conditions, but shouldn't be exposed to frost. Frequency of watering depends on heat and humidity in their environment-- they can be misted one to three times per week in hot, dry conditions, and as little as once a month in cooler, more humid environments. Periodically, Tillandsia should be submerged in water mixed with a pinch of bromeliad fertilizer for two to three hours; they should not be left in standing water for longer periods. The best thing about Tillandsia? They multiply! Each one produces up to eight "pups," or young plants, during its lifetime, so you can grow a full collection for filling terrariums, creating hanging planters, or mounting in just a few years.

Throughout the season, our plant team highlights their freshest additions to the garden with New in the Nursery. Check in at your local store to take home these newly-arrived blooms. 

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