Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tillie of the Month: Tillandsia intermedia

My upside-down month calls for an upside-down Tillie! Well, true, a lot of the wackiness was in June, but it's continued in July.  Many Tillies like to live at weird angles, but only a few actually live upside down. Tillandsia intermedia is one of them:

Tillandsia intermedia, enjoying life upside-down.
Isn't she a beaut?? Reminds me of a curly-tentacled squid, but in a good way.

Giant squid from Melbourne- photo Wikimedia

T. intermedia has the same sort of leaves and general structure as Tillandsia caput medusae (below).  Pale green, highly silvered, flexible leaves, a tightly wrapped core, and prone to basal rot.

Of course, there will be no rot if you grow it upside down. If you don't, just remember to drain the leaves at the base after a soaking. This Tillie grows about 20cm, 30cm including its inflorescence.  T. intermedia is unusual in another way--the pups appear both at the base, and from the inflorescence. That means that over time, a huge, gangly, bodacious clump will grow from one plant, all of it upside-down. (Rainforest Flora, one of the oldest Tillandsia nurseries in the world, has a good gallery of T. intermedia photos that show these bizarre clumps. If I ever get to California, I'm going to visit them and observe these strange creatures in person!)

Care of the Squid Tillie is the same as for others; a good soaking once or twice a week (twice a week if grown indoors), bright filtered light, and special Tillandsia fertilizer once a month or so. I have never seen one of these for sale at a local nursery, but online nurseries sell them.

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