(till-land' see-ah)

Common name: Tillandsia, Air Plant, varies with species

Family: Bromeliaceae, Bromeliad

Height x width: 6-24" x 6-24" (generally 12" x 12")

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: variable, generally gray from silvery-gray scales (which absorb moisture and nutrients), some species green; scaly leaves strap-shaped, narrow triangular or linear; usually in rosettes

Flowers: tubular to funnel-shaped, 3 sepals and 3 petals often with spreading lobes, opening in day, surrounded by colorful bracts; solitary or more often in 2 rows forming a spike, or in a compound inflorescence; flower scape often with colorful bracts; may last several months; grandis blooms after 35 years

Light: full sun to bright, may not bloom if insufficient light

Temperature: cool to warm (when active growth)

Watering: moderate

Fertility: low (moderate for green species)

Humidity: humid

Soil: green--epiphytic, gray--attached to slabs, rocks or similar objects and surfaces

Pests and Problems: fungal root rot (green species), mealybugs, scales

Growth habit, uses: green--pots, gray--epiphytic supports; variable, exotic growth habits

Other interest: native to tropical and subtropical Americas; named after 17th century Swedish botanist Elias Tillands; many native habitats have been decimated by over-collecting, ensure plants purchased are nursery-grown

Other culture: relatively easy if proper environment, good air circulation is essential

Propagation: offsets, 7 years to flowering from seed

Species, related taxa:

Of this large genus with over 400 species, the following are often most common.

Species, Names
Species Common Name
aeranthos (air-an' thos)  
argentea (ar-gen' tee-ah) Silver Pincushion
baileyi (bale' ee-yii) Bailey's Air Plant
balbisiana (bal-biss' ee-ah-nah) Reflexed Wild Pine
bergeri (ber' ger-ii)  
brachycaulos (bra-key-cawl' os)  
bulbosa (bul-bo' sah) Dancing Bulb
caput-medusae (ca-put' me-duu' sii) Medusa's Head
circinnata (sir-sin-nah' tah) Twisted Air Plant
crocata (cro-cah' tah)  
cyanea (cii-ann' ee-ah) Pink Quill
edithae (ee' dith-ii) Edith's Air Plant
fasciculata (fas-sic-uu-lah' tah) Stiff-leaved Wild Pine, Wild Pineapple
filifolia (fill-i-fol' ee-ah) Thread-leaved Air Plant
flexuosa (flex-uu-o' sah) Spiralled Air Plant
gardneri (gard' ner-ii)  
grandis (gran' diss)  
guanacastensis (gwan-a-cas-ten' siss)  
imperialis (im-peer-ee-al' iss)  
ionantha (ii-oo-nan' thah) Blushing Bride
lieboldiana (lee-bol-dee-aa' nah)  
lindenii (lin-den' ee-ii) Blue-flowered Torch
multicaulis (mul-tee-cawl' iss)  
pruinosa (prue-i-no' sah) Hoary Air Plant
punctulata (punc-tuu-lah' tah) Fairy Queen, Mexican Black Torch
recurvata (ree-cur-vah' tah) Ball Moss
setacea (se-taa' cee-ah) Needle-leaved Air Plant
streptophylla (strep-to-fill' ah) Curly Locks
stricta (stric' tah) Hanging Torch
tricolor (trii' co-lor) Tri-colored Air Plant
usneoides (us-nee-oy' dees) Spanish Moss
utriculata (uu-tri-cuu-lah' tah) Giant Wild Pine
xerographica (xer-o-graph' i-cah)  

Species, height and foliage
Species height foliage
aeranthos 12" gray, cushiony, lanceolate, often keeled, to 4" long
argentea 10" gray, short stem, narrow linear, 3-4" long
baileyi 16" gray, stemless clumping, linear, bulbous bases, to 12" long
balbisiana 20" gray, edged purple, stemless, thread-like, bulbous base, to 20"
bergeri 6" gray, narrow triangular, to 4" long, lithophytic
brachycaulos 10" green or gray turning red in flower, stemless, 5-10" long
bulbosa 10" gray, red margins, bulbous bases, to 12" long
caput-medusae 6-16" gray, stemless, awl-shaped and recurved, bulbous bases, 6" long
circinnata 10-16" gray, stemless, curved or twisted, bulbous bases, to 8" long
crocata 8" gray, short-stemmed, linear, coarse, 4-6" long
cyanea 12" dark green, red striped bases, stemless, linear, 14" long
edithae 6-10" gray, short stemmed, lanceolate, 6" long
fasciculata 12" gray-green, stemless, narrow triangular, to 12" long
filifolia 12" gray, stemless, threadlike, channelled above, to 12" long
flexuosa 4-72" gray banded white, stemless, bulbous rosette, 10-18" long
gardneri 10" gray, dense, narrow triangular, lower recurved, 4-12" long
grandis 10' blue-green, stemless, strap-shaped, to 40" long
guanacastensis 12-18" green spotted maroon, stemless, upright, triangular, to 12" long
imperialis 20" green to purplish, stemless, slender, lanceolate, to 16" long
ionantha 6" grayish green, dense clustering, linear, curved, to 2" long
lieboldiana 12-24" green, stemless, brown sheaths, slender lanceolate, to 6" long
lindenii 16" dark green, striped reddish, linear-triangular, arching, to 16" long
multicaulis 16" green, linear, rolled upwards (involute), 12-16" long
pruinosa 8" gray, linear, bulbous bases, rolled upwards (involute), to 8" long 
punctulata 18" bright green and purplish, stemless, linear, to 18" long
recurvata 4-8" gray, simple or branched stems, linear in 2 rows, to 6" long
setacea 12" gray, clumping, needle-like to 18" long
streptophylla 18" green-gray, stemless, broad recurved, cabbage-like, to 18" long
stricta 4-8" gray, short-stemmed, clumping, narrow-triangular, to 6" long
tricolor 16" dark red in sun, stemless, linear triangular, to 16" long
usneoides 3-25' gray, wiry, intermingled, hanging, rootless, 1-2" long
utriculata 2" gray, stemless, linear-triangular, 15-36" long
xerographica 3-6' gray-silvery, stemless, triangular, recurved to form ball, to 12" long

Species, flowers
Species flowers bracts
aeranthos cylindrical spikes, 5-20 dark blue bright rose pink
argentea simple spikes, 6-8 bright red, tubular salmon-pink
baileyi spikes, 6-7 purple rose-pink
balbisiana violet, tubular, pinnate spike bright red
bergeri blue and white, 7-12 in simple spikes gray-green
brachycaulos violet, erect short spikes, 1-2 flowers red, clustered into head
bulbosa flattened scape, tubular, violet-blue red
caput-medusae curved spikes, 6-12 slender, blue red
circinnata erect scape, 2-20 violet pink
crocata simple spikes, 3-4 yellow, fragrant green
cyanea flattened spikes, 20 rich violet rose-pink
fasciculata compound spikes, white and purple red and yellow
filifolia pyramidal, branched,10-16 lilac-blue greenish
flexuosa white, pink or purple, tubular, erect pink
gardneri compound 4-12 spikes, 3-12 pinkish green to pink
grandis long racemes, whitish, nocturnal greenish
guanacastensis branched spike, yellow greenish, 2 rows
imperialis spikes, 3-4 erect tubular violet bright red, cone shape
ionantha violet-blue and white, solitary white
lieboldiana branched spikes, 3-8 tubular, violet red or purple
lindenii lance spikes, white-blue, fragrant green to purple-pink
multicaulis sword-shaped spikes, 9-12 blue red
pruinosa short scape, 5-15 blue-violet pink
punctulata erect spikes, white-tipped violet green
recurvata spikes, 1-5 slender violet-white green or silvery
setacea blue-violet, tubular pink
streptophylla purple, erect tube, pyramidal scape red
stricta cone-shaped spikes, over 40 blue yellowish to rose-pink
tricolor blue-violet, erect tube red
usneoides greenish yellow or pale blue, solitary green or silver
utriculata pinnate,creamy white, erect tubular green, thin purple margins
xerographica short scape, light purple  pink

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS121, Indoor Plants.

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