Tillandsia drying out real fast

lilmonicker(3a)October 23, 2005

I am constantly wetting my air plants... I only have two but wish I had more. I find every time I'm in my kitchen that the two plants have dried right out. This isn't a problem cause they are right over the kitchen sink and I can just run them under water. What I am worried about is how fast they dry out. It takes about 20 minutes for them to dry out.

My environment is really dry the house is usually less then 40% humid. I'm wetting the plants twice sometimes three times a day. Is this going to be problematic for them? I've got them in a south facing window, if I knew how much light they required I might move them too.

Any tips on these would be really helpful as I really do plan to get more because I love how easy they have been to maintain up to this point.

- lilmonicker

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You're drowning them! Say you take a shower. You dry off. Just because you're dry doesn't mean you're gonna take another shower, right? Same with tills, they may appear dry but they have soaked up as much moisture as they need. 40% humidity? That's enough to see them through 3-4 days. It's better to just mist them than to soak them completely. Soaking is good when the plant is dessicated due to lack of moisture. The leaves will constict and contort. A good misting schedule negates the need for soaking.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 7:16PM
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gonzer: they are actually looking way better now then when I first purchased them several weeks ago. I was concerned that I might not be watering them enough. I don't soak them, rather I just run them very quickly under tap water. I would guess this would be almost the same as misting due to the water saving head. Yesterday was the first time I soaked them really good in a glass of water and diluted fertilizer. They seem to have perked up even more today (or maybe its just me).

They had slightly brown tips when I first purchased them and this has gotten better overall. Also one looks about ready to flower but its already starting to form pups, is this normal?

I don't know, I'm going to cut back on the watering and use a spray bottle for misting just to see if I get a better response. I've never tried these before so really this is a good learning experience for me.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 7:42PM
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Keep us posted LM.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 6:37PM
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lilmonicker -

I'm new to these myself,I just got some 2 days ago. A few bulbosa, ionanthas and a albertiana. Read all you can on this forum and then do a google search on
Tillandsia. Neat little plants!


    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 7:11AM
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I'd like to also add that it seems like mine dry out quickly too. They feel stiff and dried out later on in the day, is that normal???


    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 4:46PM
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That is normal.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2005 at 7:20PM
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Thanks Gonzer, still, they feel too "crunchy" but I guess it's o.k. then. Cool plants!


    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 5:49AM
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Tillandsia leaf textures run the gamut from 'hard as a rock' to '5 o'clock shadow' to 'baby butt softness'. This is not always an indicator of how much water a plant should be subject to. This is where knowledge of where the plant grows naturally, amount of rainfall it receives, altitude, and light and heat capabilities comes into play. Losing plants to over(under)watering is frustrating but it's a valuable tool in the future. You can't know success unless you know failure ;-)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 8:59AM
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pengoff(z5 MI)

One way to get to know your tillandsias is to soak them four or five hours. They will be fully saturated and you will know what they look like and how they feel when they have had all the water they can take. Some will be hard and little changed in appearance (bulbosa), others will show striking changes. Streptophylla leaves uncurl and straighten out, e.g. But after soaking, particularly "bulbous" plants, you have to make sure there is no water trapped in the leaf axils. Leaves must completely dry out between waterings, because the plant cannot breathe through wet leaf surface.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 12:03PM
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Last week I soaked them for about 1/2 hour each. As you described one of them straightened out a bit. When I soaked them they seemed to stay damp for a much longer time. As I said earlier I usually just run them very quickly under water and they dry out very quikly.

One is a simple Paucifolia, the other I'm not sure of... Unfortunately the tag was lost when I got home. I'm guessing but it looks like a Ionantha of some sort.

I'm getting more of these guys... I really enjoy them.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 11:41PM
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patrickfb(usda 9, CA)

Maybe it's because I live in Southern California and can get away with it, but I don't do ANYTHING special to my tillandsias. They live outside, mostly mounted on branches or wire frames, in bright indirect light or morning sun. I just spray them with the hose every couple of days when it's warm; the rest of the time I leave them alone. They're very undemanding, and multiply & bloom reliably.

Judging from your zone descriptions, I guess most of you have to grow them indoors, so maybe they're fussier under those conditions.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 2:19AM
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pengoff(z5 MI)

I grow mine in a greenhouse and put some of them out in the summer. The trouble is that summer rains in Michigan may last a week or so which is dangerous for fuzzy tillandsias. In the greenhouse they are misted more or less every day. If individual plants show signs of dryness, edges curling together e.g., I stick them in a pail of water for several hours. I grow Spanish moss in the living room window (soaking in for half an hour once a week), just to prove it can be done. It has never bloomed there, whereas in the greenhouse it does.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 7:04AM
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Well, I've done what I said I would do... I bought more air plants... I'm still learning everyday by surfing but I am really enjoying these plants.

We had our first snowfall the other day and for the last week the normal winter gray sky has been hanging around. But I get to come home everyday and see something green in my living room and kitchen. This is going to be so much better then last year.

I now have a few different types of Ionathas, a Funckiana, a Paucifolia and a Capitata. This is way better then growing some of the other stuff I normally winter indoors. Most plants just require a drink once a week or less. These require much more attention (easy attention).

I love summer because I can always do something in my garden every day. I love air plants cause I can always mist them every day. Creating work for myself and enjoying it. :-)

In the summer what temperature would you wait for before taking them outdoors and sitting them in a tree? Do you have any problems with pests outside (to those up north)?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 10:34PM
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pengoff(z5 MI)

I wait until the night temperatures stay above forty to put them out; I take them in when the temperatures start dipping under forty. Insects are not a problem outside. Grasshopper type insects will chew leaves but if the plants are in trees, they're not likely to be bothered. Another nice thing about tillandsias: many like to bloom in the winter (ionantha, duratii, caerulea, bergeri, for example).

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 1:00AM
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I think I've killed mine... overwatered because I didn't understand it. Now it lookes like a really bad wig.. and I don't know what I could do.. other than to let it dry out near a bright window and let the air (hopefully) give it a good whack...

right now, it's tacked up on a eastern wall (with fishing line) near a south-facing window with half-venetian blind light... the balcony door stays closed most of the day.. except when I get home at night and I open it for a breeze.

For those of you who may want to see what it looks like now I think I've attached a link. (photos are not for the faint-at-heart)... :( I think I've killed it. Any advice would be appreciated... I don't want her to die.

Here is a link that might be useful: my tillie photos

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 11:52AM
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Illaia, your Tillandsia appears to be dried up, but the appearance of over or under watered Tillandsias can be similar.

I grow Tillandsias indoors, and I am just now beginning to sort of get the hang of it. In climates with long stretches of cold and sunlessness, it can be pretty tricky. Moving air, and a light hand with the watering helps. I have supplemental lighting for my plants, which my Tills definitely enjoy. I have 4 or 5, but I've killed just as many!

PenGoff, I would love to know more about the growing conditions in your living room. Is your Spanish Moss in a south-facing window?


    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 2:47PM
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