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Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima

Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima / Huamelula

The largest variety of Ionantha, Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima blushes a beautiful, vivid, pinkish-red just before and during blooming. It’s a big show-off.

Quick Guide

Bright indirect light (grows well indoors)
Soak once a week and Mist regularly
Feed once every 2-4 weeks
Height 6″ (15.2 cm)
Width 5″ (12.7 cm)
Vibrant purple/violet flowers
Native to Oaxaca in Mexico.

How To Care For Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima

Ionantha Maxima is also known as Ionantha ‘Huamelula’, which is where it grows in nature. This variety is very adaptable and grows well indoors.

This variety has stiff, green, curved leaves that form into a symmetrical rosette and is quite hardy. If grown indoors position your plant as close as possible to a sunny window, without it being in direct sunlight.

This variety of Ionantha usually grows larger than its close cousins. However, younger plants are small enough to be mounted on a wine bottle cork, and larger plants look fantastic when displayed on aluminum wire holders.

How To Water Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima

Maxima enjoys a weekly soak for about 20-30 minutes. That should be sufficient to keep the plant hydrated, however, I recommend misting occasionally as well.

I find supplemental misting helps to keep the plant in tip-top condition so I mist 2-3 times a week if I remember. Soft tap water is fine or better still use rainwater. I alternate between pond and rainwater.

Some people use distilled water, however, I don’t recommend distilled water as it doesn’t contain any nutrients. I find pond water excellent as it contains many natural nutrients.

Hybrid - Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima

How To Propagate Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima

You can grow air plants from seed but it’s a lengthy process and it’s far more common to wait until the pups/offsets (baby plants) grow from a parent plant.

After the first bloom cycle, you should notice tiny pups growing from the base of the parent plant. Once the pups reach roughly a third of the parent’s size, you can safely remove them.

It’s good to have a sharp knife to hand to help you separate the pups. You care for your offsets in the same way as your parent plants.

Having said that, it’s a good idea to give the pups a bit more water during their first two weeks of freedom.

Air plant care cheat sheet

Flowers And Expert Tips

Like most varieties of Ionanth, Maxima’s leaves turn red during blooming and the plant produces around 3-4 tubular-like purple flowers from the center of the plant.

Maxima’s foliage, however, tends to blush more pink than red when exposed to stronger light which makes this a sort-after variety. Sometimes the foliage can even blush a more orangey color.

The purple/violet flowers are indicative of the name ‘Ionantha’ which means ‘with violet flowers’ in Latin. For information about the different types of Ionantha, you’re welcome to look at our Ionantha article.

Tillandsia Ionantha Maxima Hybrids

In the wild Ionantha Maxima is native to San Pedro Huamelula, Oaxacan, in Southern Mexico, and grows on lava cliffs and rocks.

There are many reported Maxima hybrids, however, I think genuine hybrids are hard to find. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the origins of many suggested hybrids. Here’s one reliable example.

  • Tillandsia Ionantha ‘Mad Max’.

Ionantha ‘Mad Max’ is a larger form of Ionantha Maxima. If you have any detailed knowledge of ‘Mad Max’ or any other Maxima hybrids please let me know.

Author - Stephen Little
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