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AIR   PLANTS
PINEAPPLES-SPANISH MOSS 
AND EARTHSTARS

BY BRUCE ZIMMERMAN

Members of the Bromeliaceae Family are better known as Air Plants.  Most of its members have stiff toothed rosettes of leaves thatWired in Peat Moss on Driftwood or anything makes a real eye catcher form a cup. The cup is used to retain moisture and as such may be smelly if there is not a frequent exchange of water.  This cup is not always well formed in all genera but is sometimes replaced by rolled leaves which catch moisture. The cup is where rotting leaves and insects slowly feed the plant through the cup. Its very poor root system is used to anchor the plant into crevices, cracks and holes of trees. The rotting organic material is also the trigger for flowering. As the organic material rots it gives off ethylene gas and its this gas that triggers the flowers.  To recreate this in your home, place a piece of apple in a clear dry cleaners bag to rot for several weeks or until the flower buds appear.  The original plant dies slowly from the bottom up over a long period of time and as it does young plantlets develop from the base. The separation of these plants  potted up are what you purchased originally.  Most of this family can also be reproduced by seed.  The flower spikes are colourful and long lasting. They are so pretty that the uninformed thing that it is the flower.  The flowers themselves will only last a few weeks. 

The various Genera can be wired to any board, Fish Tank without water but mist frequentlyslab and wrapped in long fibered peat moss. Some Genera like the Tillandsia can be glued to anything even magnetic strips and made into refrigerator magnets.

Air Plants like a frequent shower over the foliage. The ones in peat moss and wired to objects  must be kept moist. Those in soil must be kept just moist never wet. 

Air Plants have evolved in an environment where high fertilizer values are not essential so feeding is done infrequently and at no more than 50 to75ppm. See Indoor Plant Fertilizing

Common Name

Botanical Name

Care

PINEAPPLE

ANANAS  BRACTEATUS STRIATUS

200+  FOOT CANDLES
LOW 65F - HIGH 80F
HIGH  HUMIDITY

PINEAPPLE

ANANAS COMOSUS VARIEGATUS

200+  FOOT CANDLES
LOW 65F - HIGH 80F
HIGH  HUMIDITY

URN PLANT

AECHMEA FASCIATA

100-200 FOOT-CANDLES
LOW 60F - HIGH 75F
HIGH  HUMIDITY

QUEEN'S TEARS

BILLBERGIA NUTANS

150-200FOOT CANDLES
LOW 60F - HIGH 75F
HIGH  HUMIDITY
AGGRESSIVE GROWER
FERTILIZER 75-100PPM

SCARLET STAR

GUZMANIA  SP.

150-200FOOT CANDLES
LOW 65F - HIGH 75F
VERY HIGH HUMIDITY
DIFFICULT TO GROW

BLUSHING BROMELIAD

NEOREGLIA  SP.

100-200FOOTCANDLES
LOW 50F - 75F
HIGH  HUMIDITY
SLOW GROWER WITH NO REST PERIOD

NEST BROMELIAD

NIDULARIUM  SP.

100-200FOOTCANDLES
LOW 50F - 75F
HIGH  HUMIDITY

FLAMING SWORD

VRIESEA  SP.

200+  FOOT CANDLES
LOW 65F - HIGH 75F
HIGH  HUMIDITY

AIR PLANT

TILLANDSIA  SP.

100-200FOOTCANDLES
LOW 60F - 75F
HIGH  HUMIDITY
FREQUENT SYRINGING

SPANISH MOSS

TILLANDSIA USNEIOIDES 100-200FOOTCANDLES
LOW 60F - 75F PLUS
HIGH  HUMIDITY
FREQUENT SYRINGING

EARTHSTAR

CRYPTANTHUS  ZONATUS

150-200FOOT CANDLES
LOW 65F - HIGH 75F HIGH HUMIDITY
DIFFICULT TO GROW
TERRESTRIAL PLANT

I took all these pictures at Driftwood Gardens, Apopka, Florida; Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando; Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses, Apopka and Disney Animal Kingdom as part of the American Garden Writers Association Symposium in November 2001.

So beautiful who needs flowers Pink Earthstar harder to grow But worth the effort

Chair made of wire and peat moss is planted with Tillandsia and Earthstars

Vriesea- you can see the remnants of the flowers on these colourful stocks
Variegated Pineapple Growning in the Gardens at Boc Tower Southern Charm is Tillandsia usneoides
Neoregelia - Lavender Flowers are in the cup Guzmania Still to flower
These are Apart of a Reintroduction of Natives Bromeliads Into the Wild This is a real plant and yes it's true colour
Some of the Best and Easiest to Grow Tillandsia flowers are often larger than the plant
Bad Hair Day Look of this Tillandsia is natural Guzmania are often grown just for their foliage

On the whole Bromeliads are interesting, unusual and easy to grow.

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Copyright 2002