Ionantha var. Ionantha is also known as Ionantha Guatemala and is likely the most well-known air plant in the world. Popular with beginners and collectors Ionantha is a hardy plant that requires minimal care.
How To Care For Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemala
Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemala grows in forests and rocky areas in the wild. The specie is very adaptable and survives in a wide range of habitats and can thrive when grown indoors.
Guatemala prefers bright, warm, humid conditions, and is very hardy. The frosted leaves are covered in trichomes which help the plant absorb water easily and also help to reflect strong sunlight.
The silver-green leaves grow from 1-3 inches long and Guatemala usually grows between 1-4 inches tall. The plant’s small size and compact shape make it ideal for displaying in globes and terrariums.
How To Water Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemala
I like to soak Guatemala once a week for about 20-30 minutes and mist regularly, perhaps 2-3 times a week. Misting is not absolutely necessary, however, this will help to raise the humidity in an indoor environment.
Guatemala can survive up to ten days without water but will need a long soak afterward to help revitalize your plants. You can use soft tap water or better still rain, pond, or spring water.
Tap water should be left to sit in an open jug or bucket for 48 hours before use. This enables the chlorine in the water to evaporate before watering your air plants.
How To Propagate Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemala
Ionantha Guatemala readily grows pups/offsets and naturally forms large clumps of plants. Clumps can be trained to grow into large circular shapes with as many as thirty-plus plants all joined together.
The clumps are called ‘Ionantha balls’ and look incredible if the whole clump flowers simultaneously. You can of course remove the pups and create individual plants.
Pups form near the base of the plant after flowering and can easily be removed by gently pulling and twisting the offset away from the parent plant. A knife or pair of scissors may help.
Do not remove the pups too soon. Wait until the pups are a third of the size of the parent plant before you remove them. This gives the pups a better chance of surviving.
Flowers And Expert Tips
Ionantha Guatemala central leaves turn scarlet red or pink before blooming and no doubt give rise to this specie popularity. The change of color is thought to help attract pollinators such as hummingbirds.
The flowers are narrow and tubular-like and grow up to 4cm in length. Multiple violet/purple flowers protrude from the center of the rosette and are very beautiful and striking.
Warmth, humidity, and an increase in fertilizer will encourage blooming. However, Ionantha readily flowers and pups so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy this low-maintenance specie.
Each variety of Ionantha has slightly different characteristics. You’re welcome to read my in-depth guide and learn about the different varieties of Ionantha.
Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemala Hybrids
In nature, Ionantha var. Ionantha (also commonly known as Ionantha Guatemala) is native to Mexico, Guatemala, and Central America. However, the specie is sold worldwide and is available in most garden centers that sell air plants.
Due to the plant’s wide distribution and beautiful colors, it’s not surprising Guatemala is a popular choice when it comes to creating new and exciting hybrids. I have listed some of my favorite Guatemala hybrids below.
- Tillandsia ‘Victoria’
- Tillandsia ‘Rectifolia’
- Tillandsia ‘Buck Compton’
- Tillandsia ‘Paul T’
- Tillandsia ‘Joel’.
‘Victoria’ was cultivated by Mulford Foster in 1943. Interestingly the hybrid also occurs in nature in Guatemala and Mexico. The plant has an open rosette with soft recurving leaves and the foliage blushes a cerise pink color.
‘Rectifolia’ is also a naturally occurring hybrid, from Mexico and Central America. This hybrid was cultivated by R. Frasier in 1979 and was originally named ‘Jack Staub’.