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Tillandsia Flexuosa

Tillandsia Flexuosa (the twisted air plant)

Tillandsia Flexuosa’s foliage twists and turns as it grows and often creates a wonderful spiral shape. Its unusual appearance has prompted many common names – the banded or twisted air plant, flexuous wild-pine, and the striped air plant.

Quick Guide

Bright indirect light (grows well indoors)
Soak once a week
Feed once every 2-4 weeks
Height 12″ (30.48 cm)
Width 12″ (30.48 cm)
Beautiful pink/magenta flowers
Native to Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and N.S. America.

How To Care For Tillandsia Flexuosa

Tillandsia Flexuosa is a robust air plant with wide and rigid leaves. The green leaves are decorated with dark stripes/banding, hence this species is often called the ‘banded air plant’. The banding becomes more visible as the plant matures.

Flexuosa is easy to care for. Its thick succulent-like leaves are able to store a decent amount of water compared to many air plants. This helps the plant to survive through periods of drought and is therefore a good choice for beginners.

Flexuosa prefers bright indirect light so if kept indoors keep it as close as possible to a window but avoid direct sunlight. Good air circulation is recommended so open the window as much as possible but avoid a cold breeze or drafts.

How To Water Tillandsia Flexuosa

Tillandsia Flexuosa is drought-tolerant so the watering routine is nice and easy. I recommend soaking your plant once a week for about 20-30 minutes. Misting is not required as this species is quite hardy.

Because of this plants twisting nature, it’s very easy for water to get trapped between the leaves during soaking. After soaking turn the plant upside down and give it a gentle shake. This will help to remove any excess water. It’s also a good idea to leave the plant upside down for several hours to reduce the risk of rotting.

You can use rainwater or soft tap water to water your air plants. Hard tap water is not ideal as over time the calcium in the water will build up on the surface of the leaves and clog up the tiny trichomes that enable your plant to absorb water.

Species - Tillandsia Flexuosa

How To Propagate Tillandsia Flexuosa

Tillandsia Flexuosa is viviparous, which means it can produce offsets on the flower spike as well as around the base of the plant. The inflorescence can produce multiple pups/offsets, which is not typical of air plants.

Removing the pups from the base of the plant may require a sterile knife or a pair of scissors as they can be quite difficult to access. However, removing the pups from the flower spike is much easier and only requires gentle twisting.

I often recommend growers wait until the pups are about a third of the size of the parent plant before removing them but in this case that just isn’t practical. The inflorescence would snap or break due to the weight of the pups.

Leave the pups on the flower spike for as long as possible. Once removed, mist them frequently for 3-4 weeks while they get used to being independent. Soak them in the same way as mature plants.

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Flowers And Expert Tips

Tillandsia Flexuosa’s inflorescence can grow as long as 90cm tall and looks spectacular. The deep red or sometimes yellow flower spikes can support as many as 30+ flowers each one reaching up to 6 cm long.

The flower petals are erect and somewhat tubular-like and display a wonderful pink or magenta color.

The best way to encourage your plant to bloom is to increase the feeding frequency. Change the monthly feed from every four weeks to every two weeks. Moving the plant to a warmer environment will also help to encourage blooming.

Tillandsia Flexuosa Varieties And Hybrids

Formally known as Tillandsia Aloifolia, Flexuosa has a wide range and is native to Florida, the Caribbean, Southeast Mexico, and Northern South America.

I know of two varieties found in nature. Tillandsia Flexuosa var. Alba, which has a bright yellow inflorescence and pure white flowers, and grows in Gulfo Dulce in Costa Rica. And Tillandsia Flexuosa var. Vivipara which is only found in Venezuela is larger and has thicker leaves.

  • Tillandsia Flexuosa var. Alba
  • Tillandsia Flexuosa var. Vivipara.

I’ve never owned a Flexuosa hybrid and could only find one mention on the Internet, but I am sure there must be more in private collections.

  • Tillandsia Funckiana x Flexuosa.
Author - Stephen Little
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