To the genus tillandsia belong hundreds of species, bromeliads native to South America; the species most commonly cultivated as a home plant is Tillandsia cyanea; it is a small plant, which produces a thick rosette of rigid, arched, dark green leaves; from the center of the rosette of leaves is produced an erect inflorescence, which rises above the leaves, consisting of a kind of spatula of pink bracts, among which bloom in spring and summer small purple flowers.
It is an exotic plant, but very common in cultivation in apartment, thanks to the fact that it does not require excessive care.
As with most bromeliads, also the tillandsia cyanea in nature is an epiphytic plant: its root system does not sink into the ground, but into the mixture of decaying leaves that lurks in the cracks and fissures of the branches of the tall trees of the rainforest. From this position the tillandsias take what they need to survive from the air and the rains.
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To cultivate these plants in a place similar to the rainforests, we shall place the plants in small containers, containing pieces of peat and bark, sphagnum, or other materials which render the soil soft and inconsistent; usually they do not need any fertilization, but they do not suffer if we supply them with the same water we supply to the other plants of the apartment, therefore they can be easily fertilized every 10-12 days, with some fertilizer for flowering plants.
Usually these plants love a very high ambient humidity, but they fear the excess of water in the soil; when we water our plants, they can be exposed to the effects of humidity. tillandsias we can also only periodically moisten the substratum of cultivation, avoiding to leave the roots to soak in the water or the moist soil for a long time; to supply the plant with the water it needs periodically let’s fill the calyx formed by the rosette of leaves, using clean water, before fertilizers.
Especially during the hottest periods, or when the heating system is active in the house, remember to increase the humidity around the plant; we can do this by frequently vaporizing the foliage, or by placing the pot in a large saucer, raised with clay: at the bottom of the saucer we will constantly leave some water, which will evaporate slowly, increasing the humidity environment.
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The life of bromeliads
These types of plants tend to have a fairly short life: as soon as all the flowers have blossomed, the inflorescence of the coloured bracts tends to discolour and the plant deteriorates; at the same time we can see that new shoots are developing around the plant, which will become new small plants within a few months. These plants can be left where they are, so that over the years they can form heads of seedlings, or they can be divided and placed in individual containers.
The life cycle of a tillantium grown in apartment generally can last even a few years, so do not be surprised if the inflorescence seems to us always the same and the plant does not seem to develop.
Tillancy – Tillandsia: The strangest tillandsias
Hundreds of plants belong to this genus; most of them develop completely without a root system, filtering the humidity they need from the air.
These tillandsias are usually completely covered by scales which render the foliage grey, or blue; they are very well adapted plants to the water imbalances, which can survive for years without water, in a sort of hibernation, and then begin to develop again as soon as the local humidity becomes favourable again. For this particularity, they are, unluckily, often utilized as “dead” decorations in compositions of vases or small nursery statues, where they are often glued.
Let’s remember that also in these cases they are live plants, even if they do not have a root system; if we want them to survive, we will have to remember every now and then to vaporize them with fresh and clean water. Generally these species of tillantium tend to develop better in cool and humid places, while withstanding drought and high temperatures: if we want to see them grow is good to vaporize them more frequently the more the temperature rises.
As we were saying, there are hundreds of species of tillandsia, with linear foliage, in rosettes, coloured, and also some species which develop as if they were tufts of ripped grass, piled up without an apparent order. The most famous is Tillandsia usneoides, easily found in many nurseries.
The Tillandsia Cyanea is a perennial plant, which belongs to the numerous family of the Bromelliaceae. It looks like a
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