Question Regarding 'Misting' Tillandsia

jefff(7a NY)December 27, 2008

Hi everyone,

I know this will sound stupid but I'm wondering exactly what is considered misting.

When you mist them is the mist the very fine kind of mist that comes out of a small water bottle/sprayer or a misty mate?

If that's correct then should they be misted just so that the fine mist covers them, but doesn't wet them to the point of dripping? And should the mist cover every bit of surface area of the Till.?

Or does mist mean just taking a regular plant water bottle/sprayer, which has the larger drops, and spraying the Tillandsia until it's completely wet?

I'm in the midst of a Tillandsia crisis: I just found out that I've been over watering/drowning them for the past six months (as in submerging them every third day for insane lengths of time).

I recently wrote my favorite Tillandsia seller/"drug dealer" and he informed me of my mistakes at which point I came here, did a Tillandsia search and am in the process reading the 28 pages of posts.

I have pics of my collection to share but I need to upload them all... I'm in crisis mode and still reading here so that will take a few days.

Thanks for any info/help about the "misting". :O)

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I assume we are talking about silver tillandsias/air plants. What do you consider insane submersion times?

You can wet them by whatever means you want. Dunking could be a good method for indoors if you don't want to get water spray all over.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 6:21PM
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jefff(7a NY)

Howdy Bromadams, and thanks for the quick reply. Yup, silver ones, green ones... I have the following:

-Aeranthos- mini purple
-Bulbosa X Pseudobaileyi
-Bulbosa X Seleriana
-Capitata 'Peach'
-Caput Medusae
-Caput Medusae Purple
-Chiapensis X Ionantha
-Ehlersiana X Bulbosa 'Ty'
-Intermedia X Pseudobaileyi
-Intermedia X Streptophylla 'Curly Slim'
-Ionantha Van Hyningii
-Ionantha Zebrina
-Streptophylla X Bulbosa 'Show Time'
-Streptophylla X Ehlersiana
-Streptophylla X Pseudobaileyi
-Streptophylla X Seleriana

I just started collecting them in June. I started by submerging them for 1/2 hour. After awhile I began getting these areas on the leaves which I though was from too little water. The damaged areas aren't at all dry or crisp, yet I still though it was under watering.
So I began soaking everything for and hour but the problem plants got worse... then I went up to an hour and a 1/2. This, after awhile, then damaged certain plants which had been fine. All of the soaking took place every third day and rarely less.

My last offense was to soak everything for 3 hours. This damaged my Streptophllya, which had been relatively great, and increased the damage to my new Streptophllya x Ehlersiana and some others.

I'll upload a few of the damaged parts to photobucket and post them to show what I mean.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 7:37PM
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jefff(7a NY)

Ok, here's a few pics. Not the best but it shows the problems.

The first three pics is where they live (I know it's far from ideal to be inside, but I love them hanging there).
It's the entrance to the house: It measures (almost) 4'5"x5'5"x8'. No third wall, it leads into the LR.
The front door faces south and there's and east and west window. There's only 5'5" from window to window so everyone benefits from both (windows), although probably not enough. When I'm home I keep the door opened to let in the south sun(which unfortunately isn't often enough).

Here's the damage:
My Bulbosa x Seleriana. Was fine for months then all of a sudden this... it's the same with each plant. It starts as a lighter colored spot (big or small) on the leaves which gets worse.

My Caput Medusae. His problem started very soon after I got him... again it starts off lighter but then gets so bad I had to cut most of the leaves off.

My "Show Time". It was stunning and not it's just hideous.

Finally my Streptophlla x Ehlersiana. I just received it on 12-19. It was perfect! I soaked it 90 minutes that day. Two days later again for another 90 minutes. The day after is when I noticed the damage. I, again, assumed it was too dry, perhaps from the LR heat (which isn't hot and I also have a warm mist humidifier in their area).
So that day I wet the leaves under the sink. Next day was the 3 hour drowning... after that the damage was worse and I then wrote the seller to ask what I was doing wrong (I still thought they weren't getting enough water :rolleyes: )

This was taken on 12-24 after the 3 hour drowning... it got a bit worse since then and I haven't watered anyone since. I don't know if I should mist, or spray or dunk for a second... so confused. :O(

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 8:28PM
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Yup, soaking for an hour and a half does qualify as insane, Jeff! ;-)

Gonzer's our resident Tillandsia expert, so I'll defer to him to straighten you out. Meanwhile, you might want to read this:

Here is a link that might be useful: Watering Tillandsias

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 9:28PM
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There is air circulation and light to consider. How do you know you have enough light? They would certainly dry out much slower under low light and low air movement conditions. I suppose that if you were a crazy person you could weigh one of them every day and see when it dried out and needed a drink.

Perhaps some nice paintings or prints of Tillandsias would work? I do admire your perseverance. Anyway, I have all my Tillandsias outside and I just manually wet them once a week with a hint of fertilizer and only if I feel like it.

Maybe somebody who grows Tillandsias indoors can help you, but I suspect the best you can hope for is to kill them slowly.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 9:37PM
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jefff(7a NY)

Thanks for the reply. I've been reading the posts and many by Gonzer... I'm praying he enters my thread. Is there some sort of call you can make for him... like the Great Gazoo from the Flintstones? ;O)

I explained my light situation in my last post and I don't know if it's enough. Certainly it's nothing compared to the outdoors but it's been enough for some of them to grow and get my Bulbosa, Pseudobaileyi and Pruinosa to send out their flower bracts/spikes (or whatever the proper term for them is) since I got them.

There's been a fan on the floor of their area since it got too cold to open the windows and before the fan the air circulation came from the opened windows around the house. Also not optimal, but it is what it is.

No... the paintings or prints won't do. I assume that was a joke? :O)

I'm not sure if the best I can hope for is to kill them slowly, but time will tell.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 10:54PM
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Hiya Jeff. The whole program of how to go about misting/watering tills depends solely on the amount of light and air circulation the plants get. Not by "Well, it's been awhile, I think I'll dunk 'em". Misting is when the finest spray of water just dampens the scales, watering (w/a shower nozzle) gets the plant wet, and dunking is only done when the plant shows signs of dessication (the leaves curl inward). Your set-up looks nice but unfortunately doesn't look like it provides the needed air and light for optimal growth. In your case misting might only need be done once a week since the air is not moving. Fact is, your strepto x pseudo looks like something is actually eating the upper dermal layer (worm, snail?). The bummer is is that under watering and over watering can be easily mistaken for one another. In which case it's best to err on the side of caution - less water. Get yourself a small fan and point it upwards, put it on 'LOW' and see if this helps. Your T. edithae really dislikes getting wet, notice how thick the leaves are? The plants with the heaviest coating of scales (trichomes) are better suited for a drier lifestyle, the greener ones like misting more. Winter time affects the sun track across the sky so right now your stuff is not getting their due amount of light. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 8:15AM
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I spray mine 1-2 times a week. Spray until soaking wet. I feed them by pouring some fertilizer over them about once every 3-4 weeks.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 8:43AM
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jefff(7a NY)

My mental call to you must've worked!!! ;O)
Yes, you're info was helpful. Thanks for clarifying exactly what misting vs. watering vs. dunking is considered. I know it all sounds so straight forward but had to ask just to be sure. I've been so paranoid about drying them out that I never thought a light misting would do anything, but I'll definitely be doing that in lieu of the drownings.

No, my area doesn't get the proper air circulation (unless the windows in the living room are opened and even then it's not like being outside) so I do now have the fan on the floor (and it actually is pointing straight up towards the ceiling... I thought blowing directly on the plants would be too drying). It hasn't had the chance to help yet though since my last "drowning" was just on 12-24. Haven't watered anyone since then and am just monitoring everyone to see when it's time.

The lighting is just the east and west windows they're in, and in between of, and the south light comes in when the door is opened. The living room, directly behind their area, has windows also south facing and always has the shades opened so there is a lot of bright light coming from there (but it's indirect and nothing like being in their best environment). I'm just hoping it's all enough to keep them as best I can.
Oh, and I forgot to say earlier that my Pruinosa has also grown an offset since I got it... I have no idea if it would have grown it in inadequate lighting, but I was hoping that it was a sign of it enjoying it's light amount?

I knew this was all a gamble going in... I just love them so much so it's basically been "I'll just buy it now and hope I can make it live, and be healthy.".

Gonzer, you also said that my strepto x pseudo looks like a worm or snail, perhaps, has eaten the upper dermal layer.
I didn't post my strepto x pseudo pic so I'm not sure which one you meant... maybe the strepto x ehlersiana? That one does look exactly like the upper dermal layer was eaten, or scraped off, but there's no snails or slugs or worms in the house. No other tiny creepies at all.
The damage on that one occurred about three days after I received it and after it's second drowning... then got worse after it's third (drowning). It was absolutely perfect when I got it. :O(

When I wrote to Ken from Rainforest Flora (where I got almost all of my Till.) he too explained that over and under watering often look alike, but after reading my watering schedule he explained how the long soaks could have killed the plant cells therefore causing these damaged areas (he explained it all better than I'm saying but basically like that).

Thanks for the info Gonzer... I so hope I'm able to succeed.

Thank you too for the info. I see that you're also in NY. Are your Till. in the house (I assume yes)? What type of lighting are they getting, and are they doing well?

Thanks again everyone for all the info and replies.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 10:25AM
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jefff(7a NY)

I just wanted to post these pics I just took.

In the Strepto x Ehlersiana pic I posted above (taken 12-24) the damaged spot was still green and looked like this...

And now, 4 days later, it looks like this. The same spot is now more "deflated" and flat looking. It's soft (as in kinda rubber like) and not dry feeling, yet is appears to have no or very little water inside that area. It's also now turning yellowish and a bit brown like the others.

And here's my Edithae. The leaves do feel thick, but I'm not quite sure if this is how it's supposed to appear. I've had this one since June and it occasionally loses the lower leaves, revealing the stem. They never dry out or feel dead or crisp so I suspect the over watering.
Is this normal and or healthy looking? And again thanks for the help everyone. :O)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 12:17PM
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I have sort of a weird question and Jeff with all those beautiful tillys and broms. may can help..among other folks here that have more growing experience,
I have three Xerographicas and with the small information sheet I have sprayed and dunked and the first one was bought and he is about the size of a cantaloupe a beauty he was doing fine and I made sure no water left in the middle, shook off the water and the other 2 are smaller, (I wanted a look like small, med. large as a decoration).... and doing fine ...but few of the inside leaves is falling out you can tell its rotting there black on the end and I truly do not know what I could done wrong. I done the misting once a week in hot weather every 3 days it weird and the smaller ones are fine and are treated the same. They to are in my home.

it just breaks my heart I love these I have a few other types and I treat them the same I do have one that truly looks like Cleopatra on the Addams Family and she is my favorite I keep her in my living area she had to be laid or hung on a shelf and I spray her every other day now i dunk once a month with a touch of fertilizer all is fine. just can not figure out why one of the xero is falling slowly apart and will it stop? the rest looks fine...they sit on a ceder latter looking latter this way I can move them if I need to. will the large Xerographica stop if the water stops and I can dry him out? Any help will be grateful I am new to this and I am learning and been reading so I thought I would know what to do. but the experience is the best teacher.I just love my cousin its LOL
thanks y'all and yes I meant to add I live in the south..

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 4:51PM
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never dunk a frosted or furry looking tillandsia...outside with high humidty mine are rarely watered except for the misting they get when thery are fed a couple times a year

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:45PM
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thanks for the info. Hot D.D. I treat those like babies.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:45PM
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