Are You Taking Proper Care of Your Tillandsia Xerographica?

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Tillandsia xerographica [til-LAND-see-uh] [zer-oh-graf-i-ka], a species of bromeliad, is one of the largest air plant capable of reaching over 3’ feet in size. It features thick, wide leaves extending from a tight rosette.

Tillandsia air plants are often small and light, easily securing themselves to branches or pieces of wood. However, Xerographica stands out among other air plants due to its size and unique characteristics.

King of Air Plants - Tillandsia xerographicaPin
Air Plant King – Xerographica

Tillandsia xerographica is a different story. A slow-growing epiphyte, the plant gets its name from the Greek words xeros (dry) and graphia (“writing”). When combined, it means dry writing or dry painting.

The plant is native to parts of Central America, including Southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It belongs to the Tillandsia genus of air plants and the Bromeliaceae family of monocot flowering plants.

Due to its impressive size, it’s often referred to as the king air plant or queen of air plants. Besides needing high humidity and room to grow, this otherworldly-looking plant isn’t too demanding.

Tillandsia Xerographica Care

If you’re new to caring for air plants, don’t worry. With the right care, you can enjoy the beauty of this plant species without too much fuss.

Proper air plant xerographica care involves ample air circulation, bright but filtered light, and occasional fertilization.

Air plant with curly leaves hanging indoorsPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @besstillys

Size and Growth

The tillandsia air plant is a slow grower with a large rosette of silvery gray leaves. The leaves taper to a point and may achieve a spread of 3’ feet or more.

They are often found growing in crevices between large rocks or on tall tree beaches in their native habitats.

Xerographica Flower and Fragrance

If you’re wondering about the tillandsia xerographica bloom, the plant produces a stunning flower.

The inflorescence appears from the center of the rosette from a thick, green stem. The leaf bracts are rosy-red, while the floral bracts become light green.

The petals of the tubular tillandsia xerographica flower vary from red to purple and may last for several months, adding a touch of elegance to this xero plant.

Xerographica Air Plant Care: Lighting and Temperature

Air plants prefer warm, dry conditions, such as the climates found in the southwest of the United States and parts of Central America.

It’s winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. The air plant thrives in direct sunlight when grown indoors or outdoors.

The ideal temperature range is between 60° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C – 27° C). It can tolerate cooler temperatures during the winter but can’t tolerate freezing weather.

If the summers get warm enough, take it outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, and bring it back inside when temperatures start to drop below 60° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C).

Air plant held in hand, greenhouse background.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @davesairplantcorner
  • If grown indoors, face it to the south, where it can get more bright light throughout the day.
  • In a west-facing window, it’s more likely to direct sunlight in the evening.

While the plant can survive with indirect light, the leaves and inflorescences may not appear as bright and colorful.

tillandsia xerographica watering

  • Overwatering tends to cause rotting and kill the plant. It also suffers from extreme dryness.
  • To ensure you water Tillandsia xerographica air plant properly, occasionally mist it.
  • Submerge the entire plant in a tub of lukewarm water for about 15 minutes.
  • Avoid using distilled water as it can remove nutrients and kills your plant.
  • Once removed from the water, hold the plant upside down, shaking excess water and letting Tillandsia dry upside down.
  • Perform this ritual once per month during the warmer months.
  • Mist the plant every few days to keep it from drying out, but avoid spraying it too frequently.
  • Fertilizer isn’t necessary for a healthy plant, but a struggling plant may benefit from liquid fertilizer added to the spray bottle when misting.
Tillandsia air plant with cascading leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @besstillys

Related: Tips on Watering Air Plants

Soil and Transplanting

As with other air plants like Tillandsia ionantha and Tillandsia cyanea, xerographica doesn’t need soil.

  • It obtains moisture from the morning dew through the leaves instead of a root system.
  • As it doesn’t require potting and it doesn’t need transplanting.
  • People frequently attach smaller air plants to a piece of wood, bark, or another plant.
  • This jumbo air plant gets rather large and may not stay affixed to another object.
  • Instead of attaching it to something else, place the plant in a larger saucer or bowl.
  • You may even place Xero air plant on a table or desk.

Grooming and Maintenance

Xerographica plants are low-maintenance and don’t need grooming, but removing dead leaves allows for fresh growth.

How To Propagate Tillandsia Xerographica

Tillandsia xerographica propagation can usually be done with seeds or pups.

Agave plants in gardenPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @metabontjes
  • For seed propagation, obtain the seeds after the flowers die and begin to dry out.
  • Keep in mind air plants xerographica may take about eight years for the seedling to become a full-grown plant.

Growing Xerographica From Pups

What are Tillandsia xerographica pups? Pups are small offsets that emerge from the base of the adult plant. These can be carefully separated and grown into new plants.

  • The xero plant begins producing a pup about six months to two years after blooming.
  • The pup grows near the base and is relatively easy to remove.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the pup away from the mother.
  • Do not cut through the pup or the base of the mother plant.
  • Keep the cut close to the area where the two connect.
  • After separating the plants, follow the same care instructions for the pup as the mother plant.

Xerographica Air Plant Pests or Diseases

  • Scale insects and mealybugs are the biggest threats to the king of air plants.
  • Mealybugs look like small pieces of cotton and congregate in groups.
  • Remove them with tweezers or cotton balls.
  • For scale insects and severe mealybug infestations, treat the plant with insecticide.
  • If possible, use liquid insecticide spray on the leaves.
  • These plants are not toxic, but some people and animals experience negative reactions after ingesting pieces of flowers, stems, or leaves.
  • Mild irritation may be due to an allergy, but this is rarely severe.
Air plant with long curved leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @pipimaru_green

Suggested Uses For Xerographica Tillandsia

The Tillandsia Xerographica is a versatile and highly-adaptable plant species that can be easily grown if proper air plant care is taken, making it the perfect addition to any plant enthusiast’s collection.

The King air plant is a showstopper houseplant and a stunning living decor. Its striking xerographica flower is also a sight to behold.

Place it by itself on a table, in a terrarium, or on a desk near a large window to display its unique leaves and flowers.

They also are among the easiest air plants to grow in the home.

Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or just starting, the Tillandsia xerographica will surely capture your attention and bring beauty to any space.

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