Commonly known as air plants, the genus Tillandsia includes a diverse range of mostly epiphytic plants that in their natural habitats survive attached to other plants. Their lack of a substantial root system means they’re rarely grown in pots with soil, and instead are attached to cork bark or rocks, or even sitting singly on a windowsill.
Spectacular displays of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, can be spotted hanging in great curtains of silvery foliage from southern live oak trees (Quercus virginica) in southern US states like Georgia and Louisiana. In the UK, tillandsias make brilliant houseplants for beginners, and may produce vibrantly coloured flowers, too. Other tillandsias to grow include Tillandsia andreana is a striking species resembling a spiky pompon, while Tillandsia streptophylla has fabulously curled leaves.
For best results, grow Tillandsia in bright light out of direct sun. They enjoy high humidity, so a bright, steamy bathroom is ideal. They can be watered by dunking the whole plant in room temperature water and leaving for an hour or so. Rainwater or distilled water is best. You can also mist them regularly to ensure they get the moisture they need. Specialist tillandsia feeds can be added to the misting water, allowing you to feed them as you mist.
How to grow Tillandsia
- Sun exposure: Dappled shade, partial shade
- Hardiness: Tender
- Plant care: Avoid strong sunlight, brightspot-not direct sunlight, ideal for a bright conservatory, mist leaves regularly, needs a humid spot/position
Tillandsia and wildlife
Tillandsia has no particular known value to wildlife in the UK.
Is Tillandsia poisonous?
Tillandsia has no toxic effects reported.
No reported toxicity to Birds
No reported toxicity to Cats
No reported toxicity to Dogs
No reported toxicity to Horses
No reported toxicity to Livestock
No reported toxicity to People