Airplants

Airplants

Tillandsia capitata Photo credit: A. Bunting

Bromeliads make both great houseplants and container plants in the sun and shade. This includes the unique group of bromeliad epiphytes, Tillandsia or airplants.  These relatively small bromeliads spend their entire existence living in on limbs and branches in the terrestrial canopy in the forests, mountains, and deserts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the southern parts of the United States.  In fact, Spanish moss which hangs from live oaks in the southeastern U. S. is an airplant, Tillandsia usneoides.

The genus, Tillandsia, has over 540 species.  Most form a small rosette with leaves that can be green, gray, red, peach, etc.  At the Unusual Tropicals and Annuals sale from May 21 to 22, we will be offering several species including T. balbisiana, T. bulbosa, T. capitata, a selection of T. fasciculata from Honduras, T. ionantha, T. juncea and my favorite, T. xerographica.

Tillandsia xerographica, known as the King of Airplants, is found in the wild of the semi-deserts of Guatemala.  The rotund rosette has long curling and twisting silver leaves.  In my home garden,  I often take a rosette of Tillandsia and use it as a table ornament in the garden.  It can simply be placed anywhere in the garden where it will occasionally get some moisture.

Tillandsia xerographica Photo credit: A. Bunting

Tillandsia xerographica Photo credit: A. Bunting

Tillandsias can also be perched in the garden in crotches of trees. A hanging sphere can be decorated with Tillandsia by simply using a fine wire to attach the airplants to a hanging orb. This orb can then be suspended from an arbor, pergola, or tree.  In the winter, tillandsias can be brought indoors and placed anywhere in the house as a decorative ornament.  Every few days submerge the entire plant in the sink; allow to dry and place it back on a table, shelf, or mantle.

In addition to the robust selection of Tillandsia at the upcoming Unusual Tropicals and Annuals Sale, we will be offering several species of bromeliads including selections of Aclantarea, Aechmea, Ananas, Guzmania, Neoregelia and Vriesea.

Neoregelia'Fireball' and Tillandsia species-blog

Neoregelia 'Fireball' and Tillandsia species Photo credit: A. Bunting

Andrew Bunting
abuntin1@swarthmore.edu
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