Read this to be a Tillandsia Expert
Tillandsias take all their water and nutrients through the leaf system, This root system is
used like anchors to hold onto trees, rocks etc. Since the root system is not important to
the plant roots can be removed without harm, to make your plant easier to mount.
The roots may or may not grow back, either way is doesn't matter to the welfare of your
Tillandsias DO have to be watered; they live 'in' air, not 'on' air.
Each plant will only flower once. Once the flower has dried, to promote pupping, remove
the old petals and cut off the flower stalk.
Tillandsias are NOT toxic to animals, although this does not mean your pet won't eat them,
but they will survive the experience, your plant might not.
Trim away brown, bent or damaged leaves, this will not hurt the plant.
MAIN REASON TILLANDSIAS DIE:
They were not initially cared for properly (their owner was told they need little or no
They did not get enough light (they were more than 10 feet from a bright window or
They were placed in DIRECT SUN. Garden windows are generally too warm unless they are
shaded or facing north.
They were not watered thoroughly and frequently. Bulby and fleshy Tillandsias can rot!
Drain them thoroughly and water less frequently.
Tillandsias growing outdoors need more watering than indoor Tillandsias, as the sun and
wind dry them out more quickly.
Tillandsia have a life cycle of one plant growing to maturity and blooming. Before, during
or after blooming (depending on the species) your plant will start producing PUPS; most
plants will produce between 2 - 8 pups which will mature, generally within a year and in
turn bloom and produce more pups. So this year you have one plant, next year maybe 6,
the next year 36 and so on. Your plant will actually look better next year than this year as
it starts to clump and produce more blooms. The bad news is that each plant will only
flower once in its lifetime, but you should have blooms each year as the pups mature, and
in turn flower. Flowers can last from several days to many months.
Most (but not all) pups are produced one to two months AFTER flowering, when this starts
to happen you may notice the bottom leaves of your plant starting to hang loose, and they
may look dried out, as if they are dying. DO NOT be tempted to pull these leaves off (trim
them if they look too unsightly) this is where your pup is starting, and if you pull the
leaves off, you may pull the pup off by mistake, initially they as so small just like little nubs
and you may not be able to see them for several weeks or months depending on the
If you decide to remove the pups, wait until they are at least 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the
mother plant, they will be able to survive on their own at this size. Hold both mother and
pup at their bases and gently twist in a downward motion, the pups come off easily. Do not
discard the mother plant yet, as long as she is still alive she will continue to produce more
pups for you. Often taking several years after blooming before she finally dies.
Tillandsias are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures from near freezing in winter to
over 100F in summer. Most will survive a light frost but will have some leaf damage. A
frost for more than a few hours will kill your plant.
Give your plant as bright a light as you can, without causing burning. Indoors we
recommend no further than 10 feet from a window or skylight. Outdoors under a tree,
carport, patio or shade cloth would be ideal. Partial sun for an hour or so in the morning or
evening should be okay, but you should avoid all day direct sun.
In Offices fluorescent lighting will normally provide the proper color range for good plant
growth, this can always be supplemented with a desk lamp if necessary.
Watering is one of the most important aspects of succeeding with Tillandsias, and one of
the most misunderstood. Because their common name is Air Plants people tend to think of
these plants as needing little or no water (as living on air). This is the biggest mistake you
can make. Tillandsias NEED water, although they can survive for long periods of drought,
they are not growing, they are going dormant and just trying to survive.
Now having said that, your plant will also rot and die if left wet for too long..............
Basically this means your plant wants water, but needs to dry out completely before being
watered again. Plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry within 4
Watering Schedule: Your plant needs to be watered regularly. Heavy misting is generally
sufficient (underneath as well as on top) to the point of runoff as though they've just gone
through a rain storm. Typically once a week. It can also be soaked in a container for
several minutes. Just make sure to shake off excess water and place it where it will dry
within 4 hours.
Planting your Tillandsia:
NEVER 'plant' your Tillandsia, putting a Tillandsia in soil is
almost certain death to your plant