What are Tillandsia or Air Plants

We carry a huge variety of tillandsias we keep bringing in new ones every month to add to your collection.

 Tillandsia's are in the Bromeliad or Bromeliaceae family and have roughly 540 natural species. Since growing in popularity there are another 200 or so hybrids that hobbiest have created. The most famous and delicious Bromeliad is the Pineapple. While we don’t recommend eating your air plants it is good to know they come from a great family.

 

Tillandsia have adapted to live in a variety of challenging climates around the Americas. You will find the amazingly hardy plants in the southern parts of the United States, Mexico and Central America and South America. With very specific evolutionary adaptations these plants can live in jungles, cloud forests, deserts and mountain highlands. The many different climates Tillandsia can live in makes for a large and diverse plant family that attracts plant collectors and hobbyists all over the world!

 

Plant shape and size is directly affected by the specific climates in which they live. Wet climates with abundant and consistent rainfall produces plants with thinner leaves. Deserts that are prone to drought or long periods of dry hot weather have naturally selected thicker leaved plants that are better at storing water like a camel. These plants also have developed involuted or curled leaves that help to protect it from dehydration. Microscopic white hairs called trichomes that collect water and act as sunscreen are common on these desert plants. Cloud forest-based plants also have trichomes that help in catching clouds or moisture for their use.

 

Why don’t they live planted in soil? They have adapted to rely on their leaves instead of their roots to absorb their nutrients and moisture. Epiphytes, plants that grown on other plants, rock and structure and don’t need soil to live. Epiphytes are not parasites though. They do not take nutrients or moisture from their host. The internal structure and anatomy of Tillandsia have adapted to survive on varied hosts both alive and not. Their leaves are able to pull moisture from the air more efficiently while some have developed a camel-like ability to store water and survive in areas prone to drought. Being up in trees or on rocky cliffs protects these plants from damage done by foraging animals, flooding or erosion on the ground. Not that a monkey or bird couldn’t do some damage, but Tillandsia chose to take their chances up in the air and off the ground.

 

Collecting air plants are fun and be warn an addictive hobby... have fun!