Potted Tillandsias

Thursday Focus

Potted Tillandsias

Most people think of Tillandsias as being airplants but this is a big genus and the growing conditions do vary.  Several Tillandsias grow well potted in a well-drained medium. Often referred to as tank type Tillandsias they absorb moisture through their leaves but their roots also have the ability to absorb as well.  These plants are usually from mesic environments so like filtered sunlight or bright indirect light and regular water.  They do also need to dry out to prevent rot.  Many will also grow epiphytically so can be mounted on wood but like a little moisture or humidity around the roots.  Tillandsia flabellata and its cultivar T Spirit have striking red flower spikes that are long lasting.  Probably the most commonly seen in nurseries is Wallisia cyanea (formerly Tillandsia cyaneae), the pink quill plant has strap like green leaves and beautiful pink paddle shaped inflorescences with deep violet flowers.  There are also cultivars of cyanea, Sandy and Leo that really amp up the colour.  W. lindenii has a similar form with much longer elegant flower spikes and leaves. Tillandsia leiboldiana are soft leaved plants with colourful blooms, its cultivar T Mora has deep purple leaves and inflorescences. These also make good houseplants or just bring the pot inside the enjoy the blooms when in flower.

Other Tillandsias which can be grown well in pots include T tricolor, T punctulata, T melanocrater and T fasiculata.  These all have green stiff leaves and like to stretch their roots into a bark medium and will often grow much larger in these conditions as well as producing large clumps that fill the pot and put of a dramatic display.

Tillandsia secunda is a giant of Tillandsias with soft green fleshy leaves, it gorws beautifully epiphtically but will grow to its full potential size when potted, be aware that the flower spike easily reaches more than 1m so may need a bit of support.  It produces masses of viviparous pups along the flower spike and is a very rewarding plant. T oerstediana is another with huge spikes and is definitely best in a pot, it is unusual is that it doesn’t produce pups so muct be grown from seed.

If you are ready to expand your Tillandsia collection then tank type Tills and Wallisa are a good subject to explore.

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