|Tillandsia xerographica, with inflorescence.|
Among gardeners, it's known as the "King of Tillandsias", and this seems appropriate. They grow slowly, but majestically, to about a third to a half-meter in diameter, and occasionally, up to a meter. The inflorescence, as you can see, is quite remarkable. Tilly xerographica is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The leaves are silvery-white with pinkish highlights. And of course, the leaves are delightfully curly!
One reason it's hard to find good specimens in nurseries is that T. xerographica needs some special watering. In nature, they are often found at a diagonal. In nurseries, they are upright. Why is this a problem? Because if water stays trapped at the top of the plant (meristem) and does not drain out, the plant drowns and rots rather quickly. So if you are a proud owner of a T. xerographica, all you need to do is tip the plant upside down to drain the water after you soak it. A once-a-week soak of about 15 minutes to an hour, and occasional mistings, should do fine. The water should be about 5.5-6pH, and have some bromeliad fertilizer in it about twice a month during the growing season, at about half strength.
T. xerographica needs a fair bit of light, also. These tillies grow on only the highest branches in their native environment. It should be near a sunny window, but not in direct sunlight. It blooms once, then pups, like all Tillandsias. But the inflorescence and flowers can last for months!
Speaking of showy inflorescence, my T. concolor, now an outdoor Tilly, is looking pretty bloomy.
I can't wait to see the flowers on this one!