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Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra

Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra

An attractive variety, Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra has an open symmetrical rosette and a delightful shape that resembles the top of a tiny pineapple. This really is a gorgeous little plant.

Quick Guide

Bright indirect light (grows well indoors)
Soak once a week and Mist regularly
Feed once every 2-4 weeks
Height 4″ (10.1 cm)
Width 3″ (7.6 cm)
Vibrant purple/violet flowers
Native to Mexico and Central America.

How To Care For Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra

Ionantha Rubra is closely related to Ionantha var. Ionantha (Guatemala), however, Rubra has softer leaves with fewer trichomes and prefers a more humid environment. Bright indirect sunlight is also necessary for a healthy plant.

This easy-to-care-for variety is very attractive. The silvery-green downward curling leaves and symmetrical open rosette give this plant a very distinctive appearance.

Rubra is hardy and low maintenance and ideal for small terrariums. Air plant enthusiasts enjoy attaching this variety to seashells and urchin pots or placing them in hanging tear-drop glass.

How To Water Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra

Ionantha Rubra is no different from other varieties of Ionantha and loves a weekly soak for about 20-30 minutes. I mist as well occasionally as that helps to increase humidity.

The silvery-green leaves are relatively drought-tolerant and the trichomes help to reflect strong sunlight. However, too much direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and cause the plant’s leaf tips to dry out.

I use rainwater when possible or soft tap water. Some people use aquarium or pond water which is absolutely fine. Spring water is another good option as it contains natural nutrients.

Hybrid - Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra

How To Propagate Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra

It is not absolutely necessary, but many enthusiasts soak their air plants before removing any pups. This enables the mother plant and pups to hydrate before you handle them.

Ionantha Rubra pups/offsets grow from the plant’s base and are easy to remove by hand or with a knife. Pups usually appear after the plant’s flowers have wilted and should be left to grow to a third of the size of the parent plant before removal.

I usually separate the pups from the parent plant by gently pulling and twisting away from the base. I then place the pups on a damp piece of kitchen towel or moss for a few weeks to help raise the humidity.

Air plant care cheat sheet

Flowers And Expert Tips

Rubra blushes a wonderful pale pastel pink color before blooming and under bright but indirect sunlight the blush may cover the entire plant. The change in color is thought to help attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Each plant produces several violet/purple tubular flowers which clash with the yellow-green and silvery leaves and look stunning. Ionantha means ‘with violet flowers’ in Latin so the plant’s name is very appropriate.

Warmth, humidity, and an increase in fertilizer will encourage blooming. Make sure the fertilizer is specifically for air plants (Bromeliads) and doesn’t contain zinc or copper micronutrients which are toxic to Tillandsia.

Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra Hybrids

Each variety of Ionantha has different characteristics. I have created a detailed guide should you wish to learn about the different varieties of Ionantha.

Rubra is native to Mexico and Central America and is very popular among collectors and beginners. However, this specie is also known for its many hybrids. I have listed some well-known and loved hybrids below.

  • Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra x Kolbii
  • Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra x Seleriana.

Ionantha Rubra hybrids are enjoyed by air plant enthusiasts all around the world. If you know of any other hybrids do let me know.

Author - Stephen Little
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