Characteristics, cultivation and care of Tillandsia usneoides

Tillandsia usneoides

Aerial plants of the genus Tillandsia they are becoming more and more popular with the public. These are plants that do not need a substrate to reproduce and grow. They are capable of growing on other larger plants, such as trees. This makes it look different from the rest of the plant and, therefore, also different care. In this case, we are going to focus on the care of a variety of aerial plant. It’s about the Tillandsia usneoides.

In this article we are going to tell you the main characteristics of the Tillandsia usneoides and the care it needs so that you can enjoy it in your garden or indoors.

Key features

Now Tillandsia usneoides It is also known by other common names such as Spanish moss, agavepalo, hay, child’s diaper, old man’s beard or paste. These common names have been given randomly over the years and with names that compare to what it seems. It belongs to the Bromeliaceae family. It is native to the American continent.

This epiphytic plant can grow on trees but does not parasitize them at any time. That is, even if it does not need a substrate and its roots are placed on the trunk or branches of the tree, it will not be stealing nutrients or anything like that. It just uses its roots for fixation. It is more of a commensal relationship in which this plant benefits from the shade and humidity provided by the tree, but the tree neither wins nor loses if it is there.

If the care and environmental conditions are good, it can be up to 6 meters long. The stems are covered by very small silver-gray leaves. Thus, It is called the old man’s beard, since it simulates the gray beards of the elderly.

On the other hand, it has green flowers, although they are also small in size, so it hardly has anything of ornamental value. It is not a plant that you are looking forward to the flowering time of. This flowering takes place in summer. If you grow it indoors to decorate your home, it won’t even be able to bloom. As for its fruit, they are capsules 2,5 cm long, with a cylindrical shape and ending in a shorter beak. When it begins to ripen they open to release the seeds.

Advantages of aerial plants

Tillandsia usneoides flowers

Flowers of the Tillandsia usneoides

Tillandsia usneoides it is an easy plant to grow and quite decorative. You can have it indoors, but you will need a more illuminated place. As we do not need a substrate to grow, we can place them on top of wires, wood, logs, some decorative element, stones, etc.

In addition, coming from environments where the temperature range is higher, It is capable of surviving both -2 degrees and 35 degrees. Of course, if the frosts are very frequent and below that temperature, you will run into serious problems. Either you will have to protect it so that it does not die or the plant will not survive.

This plant is used as an indoor plant and does not need a pot. What is usually done in these cases is to tie them with a stainless wire to a piece of cork or tree bark and you can hang it on or near the window. To increase the ornamental value of the garden, this plant works well with some bromeliads y Orchids. You can also grow it near the trees or on top of them to mix ways that improve the decoration of the garden.

Caring for the Tillandsia usneoides

Spanish moss

spanish moss

Although these aerial plants are easy to grow, there are some important factors to consider so that they can grow and develop well. The first thing is sun exposure. Spanish moss does not support direct sun. The sun’s rays can damage their leaves and their entire structure. For this reason, in a commensal way, they are placed on the branches of the trees to benefit from the shade that they provide, apart from the humidity. This is the reason why, if we want to have it in our garden, the essential location is in semi-shade.

If the weather is too humid, you could live in full sun, but it’s best not to risk it. Same with temperatures. If the temperatures are below about 13 degrees continuously, it is best to put them indoors. They do not need soil to develop, so we remove a good part of the care. You do not have to take into account the type of soil, its pH, soil mix, or anything like that. It is best to find a place where it can be positioned well and that is in semi-shade.

Humidity is an important factor. Since they have no substrate, they need to incorporate the water through the leaves. This requires a significant amount of ambient humidity. If our garden does not have that humidity, we have to be spraying water in the environment on a daily basis.

As for irrigation, in summer, it is best to submerge the whole plant for 5 minutes in water that does not have lime. In winter it is better to do it every 15 days or wait, depending on the rainfall in the area where we live. To maintain good humidity conditions, it is best to spray it with water daily in summer and almost daily in winter.


Old man's beard

old man's beard

It is a plant that does not need pruning or special fertilizers since its nature makes it have this special morphology. Despite not having a substrate, they are not vulnerable at all. They are very resistant to the most typical pests of the garden and diseases. Because of their thick old man’s beard, on some occasions, birds take advantage of these plants to make their nests within them.

To multiply this plant, you can take a piece and tie it to a piece of bark or cork. From there, it will begin to grow and develop. It is quite easy to multiply.

I hope that with these tips you can enjoy the Tillandsia usneoidess in your garden.

Characteristics, cultivation and care of Tillandsia usneoides

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