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Tillandsia Usneoides

Tillandsia Usneoides / Spanish Moss

Also known as Grandpa’s Beard and Spanish Moss, Tillandsia Usneoides is probably the most well-known of all air plants. Living among tall Oaks and Cypress trees it’s very popular in community parks and gardens.

Quick Guide

Bright indirect light (grows indoors)
Soak once a week and Mist regularly
Feed once every 2-4 weeks
Height 275.5″ (700 cm)
Width 196.8″ (500 cm)
Small lime-green flowers
Native to North and South America.

How To Care For Tillandsia Usneoides

Tillandsia Usneoides is easy to grow outdoors compared to most species of air plants. Bright light, humid conditions, and good air circulation are all the plant needs. However, this species can be difficult to grow indoors without sufficient humidity and airflow.

Each new plant grows from the leaf axial of the parent, which in turn produces long hanging, rootless strands that can reach up to 6m long. So a good supporting frame or branch is needed as the plant can become very heavy.

For smaller clusters, I recommend using a wooden pole and plastic Orchid clips to hang your plants. Usneoides are very sensitive to metals and wire, which will kill the plant eventually.

How To Water Spanish Moss

Usneoides love humidity and grow well indoors with frequent misting. Soaking once a week is also recommended, for about 20-30 minutes, as it’s difficult to spray a dense clump and reach the majority of leaves.

Overwatering and rotting is rarely a problem with Spanish Moss due to the nature of the plants draping leaves. However, Colombia Thick Spanish Moss has thicker tendrils and denser clumps so if you notice the leaves are turning brown you may need to cut back on watering.

This species is often draped over a branch or hung from clips so drying after soaking is relatively easy. When you’ve finished soaking your plant you can simply hang it up in its original location.

Species - Tillandsia Usneoides

How To Propagate Tillandsia Usneoides

This has to be the easiest air plant to propagate. Outdoors the seeds are easily dispersed by the wind and germinate freely. In addition, small fragments often break free from mature plants and start their own clusters nearby.

Many species of birds break off small clumps of Usneoides for nesting material, which also helps to distribute the plant.

To start a new cluster/plant simply remove a decent clump from the mother plant, water/soak it thoroughly, and hang it from one or two Orchid clips.

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Flowers And Expert Tips

Usneoides typically have small inconspicuous lime green flowers, sometimes with a tint of pale blue or yellow. Each flower lasts up to 3-5 days and produces a musky fragrance, that reminds me of Jasmine.

It’s quite unusual for air plant blooms to produce any fragrance so when I say “Jasmine” above I am talking about the plant named Jasmine rather than a previous girlfriend.

Warmth and humidity are key to growing Spanish Moss successfully. Regular misting is recommended if you keep this species indoors, and with the right conditions, your plant should bloom during the spring or summer months.

Tillandsia Usneoides Varieties And Hybrids

Spanish Moss has an extensive distribution and is native to North and South America, and has naturalized in Queensland, Australia. I have listed several varieties and hybrids below.

  • Tillandsia Usneoides var. Odin’s Genuina
  • Tillandsia Usneoides var. Munro’s Filiformis or Silver Ghost
  • Tillandsia Usneoides var. Maurice’s Robusta.

Odin’s Genuina is native to Guatemala and Mexico and produces tiny yellow-brown flowers rather than lime-green.

Munro’s Filiformis, also known as Silver Ghost, is native to Paraguay and has smooth tendril-like leaves and green-tinged flowers.

Maurice’s Robusta is native to Mexico and has thicker leaves which tend to be more grey than green, and the flowers are yellowish-green.

Exciting hybrids include

  • Tillandsia ‘Nezley’
  • Tillandsia ‘Old Man’s Gold’
  • Tillandsia ‘Kimberly’.
Author - Stephen Little
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