Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tillandsia pruinosa: The Frosty One

I thought "pruinosa" meant "Pruney", as in wrinkled, and the leaves of T. pruinosa are indeed rather pruney at the tips. However, the name really means "Frosty", and this refers to the heavy, silvery trichomes that capture water for the plant. These trichomes give pruinosa a frosty look over dark green foliage:
Tillandsia pruinosa, M Robb
Frosty is a low-altitude Tillie that grows from Florida in the US to the Caribbean islands to Mexico and Central America. It even grows in Brazil! It reminds me a lot of T. paucifolia and T. caput medusae, but there are some differences:
Tillandsia paucifolia, M Robb

Tillandsia caput-medusae in bloom, M Robb
T. pruinosa has much darker leaves, like a fir or spruce type green. The trichomes are even coarser and more abundant than on the two species above. It also seems to like more water than the other two. I water my Frosties the way I water my T. filifolias and argentea fineleafs- soaks twice a week and mistings pretty much daily. But unlike the very fine-leaved Tillies, T. pruinosa is susceptible to rot, just like the caput-medusae and paucifolia. They really love good air circulation. It's important to drain them upside down after a soak. And just like all my other Tillies, they like bright filtered light (east-facing window in tropics), and a fertilizer soak once a month (I add a little powdered bromeliad fertilizer to their soak on the first of each month). Blooming and pupping are slow to happen, much slower than with T. caput medusae. They grow, but very slowly. That's one reason Frosties are harder to find and more expensive. So this is a bit of a higher-maintenance Tillie, but very beautiful! I have two in my collection, and they've both been doing well for several years now.

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