Over 500 species, the possibility of a substratum-free attitude and low maintenance costs, plus the inexpensive purchase and the exotic flair – all these advantages make Tillandsia popular plants. Especially during the Christmas season and at the beginning of winter, the small exotic species can be found in abundance in the trade. As easy to care for the plants may appear, they are not entirely without needs. So if you don’t want to enjoy the bromeliad plants for just a few days, you should consider at least a few points when caring for them.

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Tillandsia are found in the tropics and deserts. The species are roughly divided into white, gray and green tillandsia.

  • Green tillandsias prefer a humid and relatively cool climate. They can be kept in substrate and also get along very well with very little light.
  • Gray tillandsia grow outside of the substrate, on tree trunks and on branches. They are ideal for so-called epiphyte trunks, so they can be tied or glued on for their entire life.
  • White tillandsias grow at extreme heights, on cacti, scree, sand, rocks and trees. They do not tolerate great heat, but they can withstand direct sunlight as well as very cold and dry phases. If they are protected from prolonged frost, they can be kept in temperate latitudes in the garden or on the balcony.


Tillandsias don’t take much to thrive and even reach flowering time. Only the right location, possibly the right substrate and regular watering and fertilization are necessary.


Depending on the species, the exotic bromeliads need a very to moderately bright location. Close to the window is ideal in any case. Only the south side is unsuitable for most tillandsia. Sudden change of location, with very different incidence of light, should be avoided.
Temperatures of at least 16 ° C get the Tillandsia extremely well. In addition, there should be a reasonably high humidity.

Tip: place tillandsias in the windows of the bathroom and kitchen, water them frequently in dry rooms or spend them in a greenhouse.

Fasten the tillandsia properly

It is precisely the possibility of substrateless keeping that makes up a large part of the attractiveness of tillandsias. In the supermarket and the plant corner of hardware stores, the bromeliads can often be found glued on or sometimes loosely in styrofoam sheets.

But neither the loose nor the glued-on version is particularly durable – even if they look decorative. So-called tying up the plants is ideal.

  1. A base, such as a piece of root wood, a branch or a stone, is required to tie it up. Depending on the species, you can also use a cactus or a houseplant from the same country of origin.
  2. You will also need scissors, old tights and possibly some wire.
  3. Horizontal ring sections or strips about 4 cm wide are cut from the tights.
  4. The tillandsia is positioned in the desired location on the base. A small wire frame may be necessary for this.
  5. Then a strip of the pantyhose fabric is passed between the lower sheets and knotted. For more stability, the ends of the fabric are now alternately passed from right to left, lying one on top of the other, over the lower end of the plant. The strips should look like they are braided. If there is no more fabric left, a knot is formed.

Pour? D rather not!

Tillandsias develop only very weak roots, if at all, especially when kept indoors. They don’t have to, because they take in moisture and even nutrients mainly through their leaves. Regular watering is therefore an inadequate type of watering for most species.
It is better to spray the plants – depending on the species, temperature, location and general humidity – one to three times a week. It is recommended to use soft, lime-free water for this.

The exception is Tillandsia usneoides. This must either be sprayed once a day or soaked in water for 15 to 20 minutes together with the underlay every week.

Tip: The easiest way to provide water with a low calcium content is a little patience. Use only normal but stale tap water, but leave the now heavily calcareous sediment in the container. Catched rainwater, filtered or boiled tap water are also suitable.

Never spray the tillandsia with cold water. Room temperature is ideal.

The few tillandsia that are kept in the substrate can of course be watered. Usually, however, even these prefer an intensive spraying.

Fertilize – regularly but weakly

Most Tillandsia species do not need a substrate for healthy growth, but they do need nutrients. These can optionally be provided by commercially available liquid fertilizers or special bromeliad and tillandsia fertilizers. A very weak dilution, which is added to the water every four weeks when the water is resting, is optimal. Fertilization can be done every or every other week during growth.

Tip: If possible, immerse the tillandsia in the fertilized water for about 20 minutes. In this way, the plant can better absorb the nutrients offered.

To cut

A shaping cutting of the tillandsia is not necessary at all. But the removal of dead and dried up parts. And even if the bromeliad plants do not receive enough water during the flowering phase, cutting off the dried up or withered inflorescences is inevitable.

A very sharp and disinfected knife should be used for this. In order not to damage the rest of the plant, the leaves or shoots can be gently pushed outwards and then carefully cut off. Peeling off or tearing off is generally not recommended. Exceptions are parts that have already dried out completely and can be removed without great effort. Here, too, the main plant should be held with the free hand in order to really only remove the affected parts.

Moving and repotting

Tillandsias only need to be moved or repotted if they are too big for their substrate or the pot. This procedure can be avoided entirely if a sufficiently large base is chosen at the beginning.

Otherwise, the change will be necessary as soon as the stability of the plant is no longer guaranteed. For this purpose, tied plants only have to be carefully removed and tied again – but of course on a larger base.

In the case of glued plants, it is also necessary to remove them very carefully. The easiest way to do this is with a disinfected and very sharp knife, such as a cutter knife. Adhesive residues can remain on the underside of the plant. In any case, residues of the glue are preferable to damaging the plant.

Tillandsias that have been planted in the substrate are repotted like any other houseplant. But you should pay attention to the correct substrate mixture. Because it has to be as free of lime as possible. A combination of leaf soil and peat, in equal proportions, is ideal. Mineral compost soil, without lime, and leaf soil are also a possible solution.

Safe wintering

Tillandsias, which are in the greenhouse or in the room all year round, hardly need any special treatment, even in winter. Here you just have to pay attention to a sufficiently bright environment.

Anders Bromeliengewächse, die den Sommer im Freien verbringen. Diese sollten möglichst kühl stehen. Auch in der Nacht darf die Temperatur aber nicht unter 5°C fallen. Zudem müssen die Pflanzen schon im September, also lange vor dem ersten Nachtfrost, nach drinnen verbracht werden. Ein regelmäßiges, nebelfeines, Besprühen im Abstand von wenigen Tagen ist ebenso notwendig, wie ausreichende Helligkeit. Keinesfalls sollten Sie die Tillandsien in einem dunklen und schlecht belüfteten Raum aufbewahren, denn das quittieren die Pflanzen umgehend mit absterbenden Blättern und Pilzinfektionen.

Hinweis: Fensternahe Standorte wählen aber nicht in Heizungsnähe platzieren. Alternativ spezielle Pflanzlampen einsetzen. Auf Temperaturen unter 20°C achten.


Die Vermehrung der Tillandsien ist auf zwei Wegen möglich. Zum einen durch Samen, zum anderen durch sogenannte Kindel.

  • Tillandsien durch Samen zu vermehren erfordert Geduld, Fingerspitzengefühl und mehrere Pflanzen der gleichen Art. Die Bromeliengewächse sind nicht selbstbefruchtend, daher müssen man sie während der Blüte von Hand bestäuben. Für Laien ist das ein kompliziertes, langwieriges und unsicheres Unterfangen.
  • Die Vermehrung durch Kindel erfordert ebenfalls etwas Geduld, denn bis die Pflanze selbst die Ableger bildet, muss ebenfalls erst eine Blütephase stattfinden. Zumindest bei den meisten Arten. Und das kann unter Umständen mehrere Jahre dauern. Die Ableger zeigen sich danach, häufig direkt am Haupttrieb der Mutterpflanze. Zur Vermehrung müssen Sie diese lediglich ablösen, also schneiden oder brechen und ebenso wie die adulte Pflanze behandeln. Aufgebundene Pflanzen werden also aufgebunden, Tillandsien im Substrat in Substrat gesteckt. In jedem Fall ist eine vorübergehende Abdeckung mit Plastikfolie empfehlenswert, um die Wahrscheinlichkeit des Wachsens zu erhöhen.
Tip: Many Tillandsia species only experience a flowering and fruiting phase, after which they die. If you want to preserve the plants, you should definitely detach the shoots, or children, and pull them.

Pests and diseases

Tillandsia are not very susceptible to diseases and pests.
On the other hand, they very often suffer from mistakes in care and transport. Wilted, dry or discolored leaves are therefore often a sign of housing-related problems and not of an infestation with parasites or fungi. In many cases the tillandsia are already damaged before they are bought and even the best care cannot save them. In order to avoid damage to the plants and to only acquire healthy tillandsia if possible, you should pay attention to a few points.

What to watch out for:

  1. Better to go to a nursery than to buy it in the supermarket. During the Christmas season in particular, tillandsias are mass-produced in shops and markets, glued to stones or plastic decorations. These, mostly imported, plants are usually already damaged. However, this has only been shown with a delay. In plant shops, attention is paid to healthy bromeliads, so buying here is more advisable.
  2. Tillandsias that look very dry, parched or even have discolored leaves in the shop should not be purchased.
  3. Only use low-lime, i.e. soft, water for watering and spraying. Lime in the water can clog the pores of the leaves. Once watered incorrectly, these plants are difficult to save.
  4. Pay attention to constant temperatures above 12 ° C, also during transport. Otherwise you risk cold damage.
  5. Better to tie it up than stick it with glue. Glue can contain pollutants that the plant inevitably absorbs through leaves and possible roots. Although there are special Tillandsia glue in stores, even with this the bromeliad plants are less durable than plants that are tied up.
  6. If there are signs of dehydration despite regular watering, check the location, temperature and light conditions. As a first aid, spray the plant intensively and put a transparent plastic bag over it.

Despite good care and compliance with all instructions, tillandsia can die from time to time. If this only affects one specimen that was recently acquired, it does not have to be due to the current treatment. If, on the other hand, several tillandsia die, they should also be checked for parasites and fungal infestation. Signs for this are:

  • Noticeable coverings
  • Weaving, threads and nets
  • A musty smell
  • Feeding holes

Commercially available pesticides can help, depending on the cause.

Are Tillandsia Poisonous?

Tillandsia are inherently non-toxic, even for animals. Therefore, they are ideal as a plant in many terrariums. However, excessive consumption is not recommended.

In addition, the bromeliads can be dangerous in other ways. Because the leaves are both pointed and sharp-edged, as well as hard and stiff. Even small tillandsia are therefore a potential risk of injury for careless pets and children. Therefore, they should always be stable and out of reach and jump distance.

Tillandsias are unusual plants that can bring exoticism to any room. And relatively easy to care for. Even if they are occasionally offered very cheaply and almost as mass-produced goods, their needs should not be underestimated. Because only those who care for them consistently and meet all requirements can enjoy the small bromeliads for a long time and also enjoy the flowers.

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