Tillandsia ionantha: An airplant blooming in our garden

Quezon City , Philippines

Hello to all my avid readers and followers,

Tillandsia ionantha ( October 18, 2015)

I have been growing Tillandsia species for over 15 years.  Just like any hobbies , There are some misfortune that happened to my Tillandsia collection over the past several years of actively growing them. I am sharing some of the growing techniques and some tips on how to grow them properly under Philippines and perhaps tropical conditions.  I have killed several species due to over-watering .

After the devastating Typhoon Koppu ( Bagyong Lando ) which struck several days ago .  While walking around our small garden , i saw one of my Tillandsia oinantha clump started to turn reddish.

I bought a single Tillandisa ionantha in 2012 during the Flora Filipina expo , This was just to add to the different varieties that i started collecting way back in 2003. The price had been quite stable for the past several years since there are a lot of active garden growers , enthusiasts and even commercial farms which propagate them in massive quantities.

I got up to more than half a dozen varieties of Tillandsia ionantha which i have bought at the garden shows and plant stalls when the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation was still in operation .

Try to separate large clump whenever it is possible , It allows better air circulation and it prevents rots. If you lived in a place with high air circulation , watering should be copious.

They are also commonly called air plant, sky plant, wreath plant , blushing bride among others.

Tillandsia ionantha ( October 22, 2015 ) inflorescence turning red

Ethno-Botanical Importance:  They are normally used as a decoration mainly for holiday season and on festive occasions in much of their range , they are fashion into wreath and good luck charm

Origin: Southern United States , Central , Carribean and South America

Cultivar Varieties : There are between 50 to 60 cultivar varieties depending on plant authorities

Height: 6-12 in (15-30 cm) depending on the variety

Here are some of my Growing Tips :

Light: Bright, indirect light. Tillandsia ionantha also thrive under fluorescent lights, making them good office plants, indoor plants. Good for balcony, patio growing .

Under outdoor growing area , I usually moved them indoor ( temporary )   if there is a continuous rain ( monsoon rains  ) which last for over 1 hour or so .

Water: Spray plants twice a week, until they are thoroughly wet. Or you can take them to the sink and run water over them. DO NOT soak them. Turn plants upside down to allow excess water to run off. Standing water at the base of the leaves will cause them to rot.

Humidity: Moderate to high humidity. Brown leaf tips are caused by dry air.

Fertilization: I water first the entire plant before feeding them with very diluted water soluble fertilizer twice a month 1/4 of the recommended dosage , Alternating 20N-20-P-20K with 30N-10P-10K every other week .

Propagation: Growing sky plant from offshoots or “pups” is the best way to create new plants. Pups grow at the base of the mother plant.

Note: Try to fasten them with plastic coated wires on driftwood or small logs , sometimes they can be hung with ordinary plastic wires.  Some disliked being fasten using ordinary aluminum wires.

* Photos are taken by the author

Website links: Kew Garden

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/bromeliad/growing-sky-plant-bromeliads.htm

http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/tillandsia-ionantha-blushing-bride

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