All air plants are beautiful, but they can be somewhat fussy and difficult to care for, especially if you have never grown one before.
One of the easiest air plants you can grow is Tillandsia tectorum, which is perfectly suited to indoor conditions, as long as you can give it the right amount of light.
It’s more forgiving when it comes to neglecting to water it, as this species can withstand some drought, unlike most air plants!
This plant hails from Ecuador and Peru and isn’t difficult to get hold of, either, making it a great option.
Interested in growing your Tillandsia tectorum? Here’s everything you need to know to keep one of these gorgeous plants healthy and happy.
Tillandsia Tectorum Care Guide
It’s worth knowing that when you’re looking for a new air plant, the grayer the leaves on the air plant, the more it has adapted to weather dry spells without suffering for it.
Tillandsia tectorum is one of these plants, making it a great option for those who want to grow air plants but don’t want to babysit them in terms of watering.
This plant grows on rocks in areas of high altitudes in its natural habitat, in areas that are very sunny and dry, and this explains why the plant is so drought tolerant!
You may also see this plant referred to as the roof air plant or the rock air plant.
Light: The Brightest Position Possible
Tillandsia tectorum features long hairs that give this plant its fuzzy appearance, also known as trichomes.
The trichomes on this plant act as a buffer against fierce solar radiation, protecting the plant from the worst of it, while allowing it to get plenty of light.
These hairs also trap moisture and nutrients for the plant to use.
Why is this relevant? The hairs mean that the plant can withstand the sunniest places outside. So it means that in terms of light levels indoors, you need to give this plant the brightest place possible in your home.
If you don’t give this plant bright light, it probably won’t get the energy it needs, and the plant will suffer.
Aim to give the plant a Southern-facing window, where it can soak up the most sunlight, or, try using a good-quality grow light if a Southern-facing aspect is not possible.
Anything less than this will result in a weak plant.
Temperature: Comfortable Rooms
Aim to give your Tillandsia tectorum a stable temperature between 50°F and 80°F (or 10°C to 27°C).
Watering: A Brief Soaking Every So Often
While soaking air plants for a good while is usually the best way of watering them, it’s not a good idea for Tillandsia tectorum because of the hairs on the plant.
Instead, you should either submerge them very briefly – literally putting them in and taking them out – or mist the plant very well.
Misting is great for air plants, but not for other types of houseplants.
Whichever method you go for, make sure that you shake off any excess water sticking to the plant, and then turn it upside down so that any water collected between the leaves can drain away.
You’ll notice that when Tillandsia tectorum becomes wet, it will turn greener than the silvery color you’re used to, and once it dries out, it will turn gray again.
Tillandsia tectorum should dry out completely in about an hour or two. Any longer than this and the plant can suffer problems.
If the room you’re growing your Tillandsia tectorum is very dry, you could probably get away with watering this plant once a week.
Otherwise, aim for between one and three weeks, depending on the humidity, light levels, and temperature.
It’s worth thinking about water quality when it comes to watering air plants, as this is often overlooked, and can make a huge difference in terms of how healthy your plant stays.
Avoid water that comes from a water-softening system, and this goes for any plant species. The reason for this is that it usually replaces chemicals with sodium (salt), and this will kill your plants pretty quickly.
Another type of water you should avoid using is distilled water. It has zero nutrients that the plant can use, and these plants simply can’t cope with it.
If you can, use rainwater, which gives any plant the best start possible. Spring or mineral water can also work, or failing that, tap water should be fine.
Should You Feed Tillandsia Tectorum?
Tillandsia tectorum is not a very demanding plant when it comes to nutrients, as it tends to get what it needs from water.
Overdoing the fertilizer can lead to leaf scorch, so aim to feed the plant every two months or so with a Tillandsia fertilizer.
Things To Consider When Growing Tillandsia Tectorum
Should You Separate The Pups From The Mother Plant?
Like all bromeliads, Tillandsia tectorum will die after flowering, but it’s worth keeping the pups attached, as they can be difficult to separate, and the mother plant will die back on its own.
Brown Tips On Tillandsia Tectorum
If you notice brown leaf tips on your Tillandsia tectorum, this is a sign that you need to water the plant more regularly, and this will stop more leaves from turning brown at the tips.
Tillandsia tectorum is a beautiful and low-maintenance air plant, suitable for any type of home, but you do need to give it the brightest position possible for it to thrive.