Even though I’m an avid gardener and landscaper, I’ve never been much of a plant collector. I don’t search for the rarest orchid or know every cultivar of agave, but I admit to forming something of an obsession with a new plant lately. Which plant? Tillandsias! Never heard of them? Chances are good that you’ve seen them, but didn’t know what they were called.
Tillandsias are bromeliads, but not all bromeliads are tillandsias. They are native to the forests and mountains of Central and South America, Mexico and some southern parts of the United States. They’re stunning houseplants, but can also be grown outside with the proper care. And trust me, they are easy to grow and very hardy. Tillandsias are often called “air plants” because they don’t require soil to grow. Their foliage is typically stiff “leaves” (either straight or curly) that look sharp and spiky but actually are not. Some varieties stay tiny, at just a few inches, while others grow to enormous proportions.
The care is easy:
Water: “Tillys” need only a good water soaking once a week; simply take them out of their display, soak them in a bowl for a couple of hours and then let them dry out before placing them back in their container. Mist them in between soakings.
Light: Bright indirect light is best. If indoors, keep them by a bright window or under florescent light. If you display them outdoors, keep them out of direct sunlight, especially in summer.
Temperature: 50-90 degrees is best, making it the perfect houseplant.
Fertilizer: A bromeliad fertilizer is best, but a standard houseplant fertilizer can be used at ¼ strength.
These plants are stunningly architectural, making them obvious choices for clean, contemporary environments as well as artful, more funky spaces. They look beautiful displayed on driftwood, tucked into shells, hanging in balls or in open terrariums. I know you’ll find the perfect spot in your house, joining me in my new plant obsession!