Tillandsia usneoides (Air Plant, Spanish Moss, Old Man’s Beard, Spanish Beard)
Several years ago a friend brought us a handful of Tillandsia usneoides and said “You should grow this!” Well, we hung it in one of our Propagation Houses and watched it grow and grow and grow. We divided it up many times over the years and watched those new clusters grow and grow and grow. Well, the time has come for us to say to our friends and customers, “You should grow this!”
The common name of “Spanish Moss” originated as “Spanish Beard”, so named by the French for the resemblance to a Conquistador’s long beard, calling it “Barbe Espagnol”. Some Native American tribes called it “itla-akla”, meaning “tree hair”, for the way it hangs from trees and sways in the wind. In its natural habit, when the strands die and fall to the ground, birds will often use them as nesting material.
Tillandsia usneoides is in the Bromeliaceae family and is native to much of Mexico, the Bahamas, South America and the Southern United States. It is not technically a moss, but rather an Epiphyte. It grows on the surface of a plant, (or other surface that it can hang from) has no roots system, and derives its sustenance and moisture from the air, rain and/or regular irrigation. It requires good airflow and ambient light. If grown indoors, place near a window but out of direct sunlight. The slender stems have alternating, curved leaves that grow in a chain-like fashion, and overtime create a dramatic hanging structure that can reach 20 to 30 feet in length.
The best way to care for Tillandsias is to grow them in shade or dappled sunlight, in a moist environment. About once a week, submerge the entire plant in water for 10 minutes and hang to dry. In hot dry regions, it may be necessary to do this more often, however allow the leaves to dry completely between watering. We are currently selling Tillandsia usneoides, as well as Tillandsia green and Tillandsia grey in a variety of sizes from 3” to a whopping 12” long.
Follow us on Instagram @clearwatercolornursery, and to see photos of these air plants.