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Tillandsia Filifolia

Tillandsia Filifolia

Tillandsia Filifolia is a popular air plant due to its elegant shape and colors. The plant’s shape resembles a little sea urchin or pincushion with long, needle-like, bright green leaves.

Quick Guide

Low to moderate indirect light (grows indoors)
Soak once a week and Mist regularly
Feed once every 2-4 weeks
Height 6″ (15.24 cm)
Width 6″ (15.24 cm)
Vibrant lilac flowers
Native to Mexico and Central America.

How to Care for Tillandsia Filifolia

With its delicate appearance and contrasting colors, Tillandsia Filifolia is a must-have for air plant collectors. Native to the woodlands of Costa Rica and Mexico, it prefers areas with high humidity. Bathrooms and kitchens are ideal locations for this plant.

I often position Filifolia with other plants as companions to provide a humid microclimate around it.

This species can be demanding when it comes to watering as the thin leaves do not store much water. For this reason, Filifolia rarely flourishes indoors, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on it, especially during hot and dry weather.

Filifolia looks awesome when positioned on a rock, driftwood, or branch. I keep mine among several rocks near an open window as this species requires good air circulation.

How to Water Tillandsia Filifolia

Being a mesic air plant, Tillandsia Filifolia requires frequent watering and thrives in moist environments. Therefore, I recommend soaking your Filifolia in a bowl of water for 20-30 minutes once a week.

In warmer seasons I like to mist Filifolia every 2-3 days. Otherwise, the leaf tips can dry out quickly and go brown.

I recommend rainwater for watering. However, you can use soft tap water that’s been left to stand for 48 hours. This helps the chlorine in the water evaporate, which would otherwise harm your plants.

Other options include aquarium, pond, or spring water.

Turn your plant upside down after soaking and gently shake it to help remove the excess water. Then turn your plant upside down for several hours so any water trapped between the leaves can run out, this helps to prevent rotting.

Do not leave your Tillandsia sitting in water, and avoid using a pot or container that retains water at the base.

Species - Tillandsia Filifolia

How to Propagate Tillandsia Filifolia

Filifolia can be grown from seeds but you’ll need to be very patient as it takes many years (5+) before the plants mature and eventually flower.

Alternatively, a more common method of propagation is to wait for offsets to grow and then divide them from the parent plant. Filifolia usually produces 2-3 offsets, commonly known as pups, from around its base.

Look for pups after the parent plant has flowered, as this is when they typically emerge. The pups can be removed once they reach around one-third the size of the parent plant by giving them a gentle pulling and twisting motion.

Ensure proper air circulation around the pups, this is crucial for their development. Water the pups by misting frequently and allowing them to dry fully between waterings. After about 5 weeks you can treat the pups like adult plants.

Air plant care cheat sheet

Flowers and Expert Tips

Tillandsia Filifolia has an unusual almost chaotic yet captivating inflorescence. The floral bracts are pale green and maroon and give way to lilac flowers, adding a touch of elegance to the plant’s needle-like green foliage.

The inflorescence/flower spike is mostly lilac or purple and consists of many sprawling branches. The flower spike can reach around 6-7 inches tall.

As I said above, this species requires good airflow and circulation and must be allowed to dry in between waterings. Although, Filifolia prefers cooler conditions than many air plants a sheltered location is still preferable if kept outdoors.

For bolstering growth and flower production use a Tillandsia-specific fertilizer. I fertilize sparingly, once a month during the winter and fortnightly during the summer.

This species is delicate so be careful when handling it, the needle-like leaves are easily bent as is the inflorescence.

Tillandsia Filifolia Hybrids

When searching for Tillandsia Filifolia hybrids, you may fall short. I was surprised to find only a few examples but wasn’t sure if they were indeed hybrids or a case of misidentification.

For example, Filifolia can be easily confused with Tillandsia Fuchsii, they both look like little sea urchins. The best way to tell them apart is their inflorescence. Filifolia has a lilac flower spike and blooms, and Fuchsii has a red flower spike and deeper-colored violet petals.

If the plants are not in bloom the easiest way to tell them apart is by their leaves. Filifolia has fern-green leaves and Fuchsii leaves are silvery blue-green.

Another similar-looking species is Tillandsia Argentea, which forms an almost perfectly symmetrical rosette.

If you are aware of any Filifolia hybrids I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Author - Stephen Little
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