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TILLANDSIA ionantha

Image of Tillandsia ionantha

James Burghardt

Family

Bromeliaceae

Botanical Name

TILLANDSIA ionantha

Plant Common Name

Sky Plant, Violet-flowered Air Plant

General Description

Sky plant is a miniature bromeliad native to forested regions from Mexico and Central America. It is an epiphyte, which means it grows in the upper branches of trees where it receives some sun.

Its pointed, lance-shaped leaves are round in circumference and crowd together to form dense rosettes. They are covered with gray-green, tiny, shield-shaped hairs (trichomes) which collect water and nutrients for the plant and give it a dusty appearance. When the plant is ready to flower in winter or early spring, the leaves blush rosy-red. The three-petaled, tubular, violet and white flowers peek up from the bases of the upper leaves. These attract hummingbirds and are followed by inconspicuous fruits. Once the plant sets fruit, it produces one to four small plantlets, called "pups", at its base that will soon replace the slowly dying mother plant.

The pretty little sky plant is only planted outside in frost-free locations. Secure it to a tree, where it will receive some sun during the day. The light is necessary to initiate flowering. A slight drop in temperature during winter is also required to induce flowering. Indoor specimens should be provided bright light, high humidity and warm temperatures. Though sky plant can be potted in very porous potting medium, it is best attached to a cork or fir slab or pole. Mist with water regularly and use a dilute solution of soluble fertilizer on occasion. Outdoor specimens don't need to be fertilized because they receive nutrients from the solution made of rain water runoff from decaying material.

Use this diminutive bromeliad in containers, dish gardens, wood lathe hanging baskets and tropical displays. It is lovely grown in combination with other bromeliads and orchids.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Epiphyte

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    3"-5" / 7.6cm - 12.7cm

  • Width

    3"-5" / 7.6cm - 12.7cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Violet

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Pink, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Red, Gray Green, Pink, Silver

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes