Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tillandsia of the Month: T. bulbosa

Tillandsia bulbosa, large clone
Tillandsia bulbosa was the very first Tilly I went nutty over and brought home. I bought it during a rainstorm at the nursery, then had to quickly run to a concert I was attending down the street. No time to stop at the car, so the bulbosa sat through the concert with me! Got a few stares, but hey, that's love.

Bulbosas are amazing. They look so alien, and, well, I'll say it, creepy. I mean that in a good way. Now I have seven or eight, what with additional purchases and grown pups.

Easy to identify because of their bulbous bouffant bases, bulbosas can grow up to 18" (large clones), or remain petite at around 4-5" (small clones). Their leaf tips turn scarlet at blooming time, which makes them even creepier, in a beautiful way.  Pups grow at the base, often hidden at first by the bulb. Ants love to live in the base pouches, just as they do with T. butzii.

Bulbosas grow all over the West Indies, Central America, Colombia, and eastern Brazil. They like it humid, with lots of rain, at least seasonally. They particularly like to live in mangroves, on shorelines. So when grown indoors, they'll need more misting and more frequent waterings than some other Tillies. As with the butziis, it's important to drain the pouches of water after a long soak, so that rot doesn't set in. Most leaf growth is in the summer, and mine bloom in mid-winter.

T. bulbosa, small clone
Those long tendrils make it easier to water them bucket-style, rather than just dunks or heavy mistings:

A soak of about 20 minutes twice or thrice a week seems to do the trick. Pups can be separated from parent plants when they're about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the parent.


  1. Nice looking plant - I put mine under cover now, to keep it away from the salty stuff - hope it will do better.

  2. I haven't grown any bulbosas outdoors, but they are known to live in mangrove swamps, so they'd be getting a lot of salty spray there. They may be more salt-hardy than other Tillandsias....I may try tethering some to our mangroves and see how they do.

  3. Your Plant is beautiful :) You made me laugh out loud when you said I thought i was the only one that still said that.. Haha

    1. Hey, you haven't seen me use "ox" and "nonce" yet... but you will!