Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tillandsia crocata: a fragrant diva Tillie

Avid Gardener Baker catalogued and named the unusual Tillandsia crocata in 1887. It means, "the Tillie that is like saffron." Most Tillandsias have purple blooms, and a few have scarlet or lilac blossoms. Crocata has a gorgeous (wait for it) saffron-colored flower. And it smells gorgeous, like honey and mimosa.
Tillandsia crocata, MR, 2014
T. crocata is a clumper. The leaves are fine and thickly coated with trichomes, which make it not only silvery, but so fuzzy it's practically pet-able. They are higher altitude tillies (1000-2500m) from Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. There are three main types, of which T. crocata "Copper Penny" is the most sought after; it has copper colored blooms. All crocatas need more mistings than other Tillies; they can't handle prolonged drought at all.
Tillandsia crocata, MR, 2014
Mine like to grow close to other Tillies, as this keeps their environment more humid. I also give them extra mists or soaks during the winter months when our humidity is below 50%. On the other hand, they cannot tolerate being cold and wet for long. They have to thoroughly dry between waterings and need good air movement. So yeah, they are high maintenance divas. But when in bloom, they go to the living room, where they scent the whole area for a week or more. Gorgeous sopranos of the Tillie world, crocatas are definitely worth the extra effort!

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