Advice on Tillandsias needed

LauraS1893January 9, 2013

Hello, I am new to the forum and new to growing Tillandsias. I have not even purchased my first one yet, but have been researching sites online and would like to know what those of you who have more experience with these interesting plants would recommend that I purchase as a first plant or group of plants. I do not want something that grows very big to start with, no larger than 3-4 inches. I saw a picture of a grouping on a small wooden tray with some sand and pebbles that was sort of oriental looking in design and I am wanting to try something like that to put on my computer desk which gets indirect sunlight, which I have read is what they need. I would also appreciate suggestions as to a reputable company to purchase my plants from. The company I was considering, airplants4u.com, does not have very good reviews in fact what I read was 99.9% negative comments so I definately will not be ordering from them and was glad I did research on their customer ratings before ordering. I thank you all for your help and look forward to contributing to the forum regularly.

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hotdiggetydam

Most Tillandsia are a challemge to grow indoors. Maybe gonzer will pop by and make some suggestions. One that is great to start with is Ionantha's. They grow in balls, on wood, in wire baskets. Many ways to grow them and esy to growwith little care. Two things all Tillandsia must have good air circulation and humidity.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 4:16PM
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LauraS1893

Thank you hotdiggetydam for your suggestion. I had been considering Ionantha's myself so will probably go with those. But, anyone else has any suggestions I would appreciate hearing them. Thanks again for your help.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 10:22AM
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gonzer_gw

E-bay's as good a place as any since the majority of plants sold come from Tillandsia International. Fairly decent plants for the novice and usually good prices. Two sellers in particular are Jmacnz and Coastaltill.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 8:04AM
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LauraS1893

Thanks gonzer, I will definately check out these two sellers and see what they have to offer.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:14AM
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elpaninaro(z9 TX)

I would also recommend Tropiflora. They have a substantial selection of bromeliads to choose from- including Tillandsias- and very often note in their listings if a plant is particularly easy or difficult to grow.

As for actually growing the plants, I just started with Tillandsias about 6 months ago. I have many years experience with a broad range of orchids, plus Aechmeas and Neos in the realm of bromeliads- and I am finding Tillandsias a lot of fun and also not terribly difficult. So I think you have picked a good place to start, and I wish you the best.

The fine print- I find Tillandsias fairly easy, but in large part because I carefully cater to their needs as I interpret them from my research on the plants themselves.

For starters- all of mine are grown outdoors in varying degrees of sun based on their natural habitats (mostly ranging from full sun down to Aechmea conditions.)

Second, I keep most of them completely loose- sometimes on a bench and sometimes hanging from a string- until I see signs of root growth at which point I mount them (and some species in adulthood do not root and are just fine hanging out wherever.) In some cases I do pot- I have my T. brenneri growing in moss and I have my didisticha in a pot full of rocks. Bad idea according to some, but they are growing well and both in spike right now after just a few months of ownership. Again- read up on the history of each species you end up giving a try, and don't be afraid to trust your instincts as you become more experienced.

Look at the leaves too. The hairier the leaves, the more I find they need to be watered infrequently and in a way that allows them to dry quickly. Such plants also need very good air flow- goes back to the research that you have already done and can continue to do. The few species with leaves much closer to Vriesea and other bromeliads I have found tend to prefer care more akin to those genera.

Here is the fun part for what you have in mind- as with orchids I find most all bromeliads when brought indoors in full bloom will hold those blooms quite a bit longer than in their usual growing conditions. Don't go too crazy with it so that you can have pups later when the mother plant finishes flowering and passes away, but if you keep a modest stock of Tillandsias at home in a good outdoor environment, then as they flower you can bring them into your office and even place them in a relaxing little setting you create for them. And the best part with Tillandsias is that you can have small plants that are not in pots which makes it even easier to create that mini-garden and switch plants out with regularity.

As for which ones to start with- that is hard to say. There are just so many plants with such a great range of both requirements and flexibilities to adapt. My best advice is to buy a collection- find a dealer you think you can trust, tell them you are new, give them a budget and ask for an assortment of plants. A good dealer will ask you questions to ascertain your growing conditions and make a good selection from there.

It is not a perfect science- some plants will die that should have thrived, and some will thrive that should have died. Right now I have a very fine Aechmea species growing for me like a weed that is "not supposed to grow well" in the warm Texas climate. This is where the "experience" I reference above so much comes into play. At some point you just have to jump in and learn by doing. If you do so with the genuine intent to become a great grower, then you are doing right by the plants no matter what happens.

The more you grow, and the more you observe your plants- the more instinctive and confident you will become.

Sorry for the long post- I did it mainly because of your reference to the office. I try to always have a beautiful plant at work that I grew myself- it brightens my day, reduces stress and brings a smile to those to come by to visit. Keeping them there long term is not usually a good idea, but it is definitely possible to bring them in on rotation and keep a little bit of yourself nearby and on display as you work.

I hope this helps and best of luck to you!

Take care,

Tom.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:33PM
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