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TILLANDSIA tectorum

Image of Tillandsia tectorum

James Burghardt

Family

Bromeliaceae

Botanical Name

TILLANDSIA tectorum

Plant Common Name

Rock Airplant, Roof Air Plant

General Description

Resembling something between a spider and centipede with white legs, roof airplant has very narrow leaves that are lined with fuzzy white hairs. It is a frost-tender perennial bromeliad from the higher elevations of the northern Andes in South America. Unlike many other Tillandsia species, it is better adapted to areas with lower humidity and more intense sunlight. It is a lithophyte, which means it naturally grows on rocks.

Roof airplant forms a rosette of wiry leaves that slowly elongate with age. Each leaf is densely covered with shield-like scales of silvery white that reflect sunlight and protect the leaves from drying out. In spring, mature plants of considerable age produce stems tipped with a clustered spike of reddish-purple bracts (modified petal-like leaves). From each bract emerges a tiny, pale lavender blossom. The flowers are hummingbird pollinated. Once a rosette has flowered, it will die but not before smaller rosettes appear at its base to replace it.

Grow roof airplant nestled among rocks or in the highest reaches of a tree where it will receive very bright light and excellent air circulation. It grows best in full sun to partial sun and humidity, though it will tolerate some dry air. In the hottest climates, it is best given some afternoon shade. It should not be watered as frequently as other airplants. Anchor it as a hanging basket specimen, in a rocky patio container or wedged in a rocky stone wall.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    6"-18" / 15.2cm - 45.7cm

  • Width

    10"-18" / 25.4cm - 45.7cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Southeastern United States, South-Central United States, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, Caribbean, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Lavender

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    White, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    White, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    White, Gray

  • 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, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No