Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tillandsia Care Part III: Care of the Pups

Tillandsias reproduce via flowers/seeds, and via offsets, or pups. If you grow Tillies indoors, the latter is the method of reproduction you'll encounter most often. Tillandsias only bloom once in their lives, and then they offset.
Some Tillandsias, like the T. abdita above, and T. ionantha fuego, will redden up and become very Christmasy just before they bloom. Then the flower appears....

Some time after flowering, from weeks to months, a pup will appear. Some are very well-hidden, and others are obvious. As you may know from previous posts,  pups can form at the base or from the center of the mother plant. Some emerge from the side. There's a tremendous level of variation.
Tillandsia caliginosa with side pup, MR

Tillandsia magnusiana with base pup, MR

Tillandsia butzii with base pup, MR
Most pups will stay stubbornly attached to the mother plant, and this is just fine. They should remain attached until they are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant. Then, if you want to remove them, do so by twisting the pup very gently at the base with a slight downward pull. You can cut them at the base with a very sharp, small knife, but this can damage a pup if you're not very careful.

Some pups fall off the mother plant when they are very tiny. T. karwinskiana does this, as does T. albertiana and several other species. These pups tend to be tiny. They are easily lost.
Tiny pups in the palm of my hand. Just a few mm big!
In nature, I think these tiny pups get blown to, or fall on, a larger Tillie or plant and grow quietly to size over a long period of time. For your indoor garden, if you spot pups like this, perch them on a larger Tillie, and mist/water with the host plant. They will continue to grow.
Free pups housed with some Tillandsia caput medusae.

There are pup mysteries, though. For example, my T. xerographica bloomed months ago, and I still can't find an offset. Anywhere!
When I solve this mystery, I'll be sure to let you all know.


  1. I have Tillandsia Xerographica that take close to a year after to produce a really tiny pup that looks like a bulb at first. It's a really take a long time to grow.

  2. Victor, I'm very glad you commented. It's good to know that I'm not mistreating my xerographica, and it's just doing its thing! Send or post a photo of the pup in you can. There's very little info on Tillies out there, and I'm trying to remedy that! :-)

  3. I have a T.X. that took months and months to pup as well. Not sure exactly how long because it was hidden by a lower leaf and I didn't notice it for a while. I was paranoid it wouldn't because I think the bloom may have dried up prematurely due to some weird weather I left it exposed to, but it did! I have pictures pre and post bloom if you're interested.

  4. Queso, I'd love to see the pics! I'd be glad to post them to the blog.