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Tillandsia xerographica is one of the largest Tillandsia species, which is why it has gotten a nickname King of Air Plants.
The plant itself is relatively simple to care for, just like her cousin Tillandsia ionantha, which is what makes this plant popular amongst houseplants. Another popular belief is that all air plants can be used as a natural air filter for your home.
In this text, I’m going to teach you everything about the King of Air Plants, so if you want to know more, stay tuned, and let’s begin!
To understand how to grow Tillandsia xerographica indoors, it is a good idea to learn something about the origins of the plant itself.
Tillandsia xerographica originates from the middle part of the American continent, mostly from Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Three main things Tillandsia xerographica needs are good air circulation, water, and light. This plant likes dry conditions, which is why you should never expose it to frost. However, apart from that, this plant is relatively easy to care for.
It doesn’t require soil, so you won’t have to worry about that. Instead, you can grow it in a terrarium, container, or some other display. I’ll explain everything a bit later.
Different Types of Tillandsia Xerographica
Tillandsia xerographica is one of the bromeliad species, and there are a lot of other Air Plant species. But the most commonly known bromeliads that are cultivars of xerographica are:
- Tillandsia ‘Betty’ – got by pairing xerographica and brachycaulos;
- Tillandsia ‘Fireworks’ – a combination of xerographica and Roland-gosselinii;
- Tillandsia ‘Silver Queen’ – Jalisco-monticola combined with xerographica;
- Tillandsia ‘Silverado’ – a mix of chiapensis and xerographica.
When it comes to watering Tillandsia xerographica, you won’t have much trouble, since it doesn’t need to be watered very frequently. Once in 2 to 3 weeks should be good enough, to be more precise.
Also, since this plant doesn’t need soil to grow, you won’t have to worry about keeping the soil moist enough.
The best way to water King of Air Plant is to use a bowl of water and soak the entire plant into it, and leave it like that for about 1 hour.
It would be best to use a deep bowl, so the plant could be completely under the water. Also, you should never use too cold or too hot water. Make sure to balance it.
To avoid causing rotting problems to your plant, make sure to turn the plant upside-down and shake it until all not-needed water is gone.
After that, simply put the plant on a rug or a towel and let it dry out. Don’t return it to its original spot until it is completely dry.
Lighting and Temperature
The next crucial thing to consider is where to put your Tillandsia xerographica. Since the plant likes dry conditions, you should put it on a spot where there is enough light, along with the proper air circulation.
Keep in mind that temperature shouldn’t be below 40°F. The ideal conditions would be from 60°F to 80°F.
Also, try not to put the plant near the heating, air condition, and air vents because it could cause some problems.
Even though these plants are great for indoors, don’t hesitate to put them outside for a bit, since they like sunlight.
However, be careful that it is not too warm and try not to expose them to the direct sunlight if the weather is hot.
Fertilizing Tillandsia xerographica is not essential, but it can help the plant to grow faster and be stronger and healthier.
When doing this, you will have to be careful what type of fertilizer you are using because they hate certain elements found in most general fertilizers.
To be safe, you should only use specialized fertilizers for Tillandsia, such as Cute Farms Tillandsia Air Plant Fertilizer. That way, you can be sure that your Air Plant will get the needed minerals.
Also, make sure not to overfertilize, to avoid causing burns to your plant. Fertilizing once in a month or two is more than enough to keep your xerographica plant happy.
When it comes to the pruning Tillandsia xerographica, it is one of the most important tasks because leaving any dead parts attached to the plant might cause serious harm, and eventually lead to your plant’s death.
The pruning process is relatively simple. All you need to do is use pruning shears, or a clean sharp knife, with which you would remove sick parts.
You can recognize these parts quite easily since they are brownish. Simply cut off these dead parts, and put your plant in the water.
Also, make sure to put it on really bright location, since it will need some time to regenerate. Over time, new parts will grow, and the plant will fully heal.
There are two ways of propagating Tillandsia xerographica:
- Propagating from seeds
- From pups
Propagating from seeds is simple. You can get the seeds from the flowers once they wither and die. You can use these seeds to grow a new plant.
However, to do this, you will have to be a very patient person because it takes around 8 years to fully grow xerographica from seeds. Eight years!
Another method is much faster.
Now, to even get the pups, you will have to wait from 6 months to 2 years, after the first bloom appears. Only then pups will start growing.
Pups will appear on the base of the plant, and they are very simple to cut off. All you need is a clean knife, or shears.
Make sure that you are careful enough and don’t cut the pups itself or the plant’s base. Only make a cut where these two parts are connected to each other.
Once pups are out, simply put them in the water, and treat them the same as you would treat the grown-up plant.
As for repotting Tillandsia xerographica, it is really not needed, since the plant doesn’t even use soil. Instead, if it gets bigger, you can simply find a bigger container, terrarium, or bowl to put it in.
This should save you some time and money for getting new, bigger pots, and finding the right type of soil for the plant.
Tillandsia Xerographica Problems and Solutions
Now that you know how to care for Tillandsia xerographica, let’s focus on potential problems that might occur while doing so, and what are the most efficient ways to avoid or solve those issues.
One of the most common problems with most Tillandsia plants is definitely the rot. Rotten parts may occur because of different reasons, but most of the time it happens because of overwatering.
Over time, water can accumulate in the pot if you are not careful enough when watering your xerographica plant.
If left like that for a prolonged amount of time, you will notice that the bottom of the plant, near the base, can get blackish or purple color, which is the main sign of rot.
When that happens, it is usually fatal to your xerographica. That’s why you need to be extra careful when caring for Tillandsia xerographica.
Luckily, preventing rot is a simple task. If it happens that your plant is soaked in the water, all you need to do is position the plant on the side or turn it another way around.
This will ensure that all accumulated water goes out of the pot after the plant had enough water to fulfill its needs.
You should leave the plant in this position for around 3 or 4 hours until it gets completely dry, then return it on its original position.
When worrying about overwatering Tillandsia xerographica plant, people often cause another problem, which is dehydration.
It’s quite the opposite of overwatering. In this case, the plant doesn’t have enough water to satisfy its needs, which can also cause problems.
Because of the nickname for all Tillandsia species, Air Plant, people often think that these plants don’t require water and that they can get enough to survive from the air.
Of course, that is not true. Even though they are quite simple to care for, Tillandsia plant does require water, amongst other things, such as light and air.
To avoid this problem, you simply need to water your Tillandsia xerographica once a week, by submerging it in the water and leaving it like that for a couple of hours.
After that, simply let the plant dry out, as I had already mentioned, and it will be ready to be returned to its initial spot.
Burn Cause by Fertilization
Another problem that often occurs in tillandsia plants are burns caused by fertilization. You can easily recognize the symptoms by checking if your xerographica plant has gotten brown and dried leaves.
This can also be a sign of dehydration, but if you know that is not the case, then you should probably check if the problem is caused by fertilizer.
Fertilizing these plants is a very delicate process because they really hate some toxins and minerals that are commonly found in most fertilizers, such as zinc, copper, rust, boron, and iron. So, using random fertilizers, such as Hibiscus fertilizers will not do the trick.
These plants actually don’t require fertilization so often. It can help them grow at a faster rate, but it should be used with care, and only once per month.
To avoid causing burns to your Tillandsia xerographica plant, you should only use a fertilizer that is labeled for these types of plants because they require a fertilizer specifically made for them.
Also, make sure that pot, display, or any type of container you are using to keep your xerographica plant doesn’t contain elements that can cause harm to the plant.
One of the crucial things King of Air Plants need is lighting. However, you need to be careful not to expose them to direct sunlight for too long because it could cause sunburns.
Direct sunlight can help your xerographica plant to dry out faster though, so you should find the perfect balance.
It would be best to keep your plant in a bright location that is not directly exposed to the sunlight. For example, a good location would be to put it about 4 feet from your window.
If you’re wondering about whether the light bulbs would work as well, the answer is yes. However, in that case, make sure to put the plant near the artificial light, and to keep the light off during the night.
Therefore, before rushing to the nearest shop to buy just any lights, make sure to do a research and find the best grow lights for indoor plants that will be beneficial to your King of Air Plant.
Not Enough Air
The third most important thing every Tillandsia xerographica plant needs is enough air. Lack of air can slow down its growth and make it live a shorter life.
This problem usually happens with xerographic that are kept in a confined space or display, such as a terrarium.
To avoid this, make sure to put your Tillandsia xerographica in a location with good air circulation. Now, what that actually means, you might wonder?
Well, the plant should be on a spot not close to the heating, nor ventilation or air conditioning because this might cause problems, and dry the plant out.
If you keep your xerographica in a terrarium or a display that is open from the top side, then you can use a fan, most likely a ceiling fan, to keep the temperature consistent when the weather is hot.
However, this can also speed up the rate at which the plant can dry, so use it carefully. It would be best to find a place where there is constant room-temperature airflow.
Setting the right temperature for the Tillandsia xerographica is extremely important because even the slightest touch of a cold or frost can harm your plant.
They require dry conditions, with moderate temperatures, so you should always keep the temperature where the plant is on more than 40°F.
This is usually not a problem if you put your xerographica plant indoors, but if you keep them outside, you have to think about it, otherwise, the plant might get squishy and limp.
As for temperature requirements during the hot weather, you should consider that during this time, King of Air Plants will need to be watered more than usual, since air plants dry out faster during the warm temperatures.
Dealing with Pests
Just like many other plants, Tillandsia plants might get attacked by pests. One of the most common problems of this type is mealy bugs.
They are easy to notice since they feel like cotton when grouped together. So, if you notice white thingies, sort of like a web on your plant, then you are probably facing mealy bugs.
These bugs like to settle on the plant because their main source of food is the sap they extract from it, but this can harm the plant itself, so you should deal with them.
The first thing you should do is to isolate your xerographica plant because mealybugs like to move from plant to plant.
After that, you should mix dish soap with water and wash your plant. Then, as the last step, soak small cotton wipers with alcohol and wipe the parts that weren’t washed out.
Before returning the plant to its normal spot, wait for a week or two, in case of pests return. If everything is ok, feel free to put it back to where it should be.
My Tillandsia xerographica is getting black parts, what should I do?
Blackish parts are a sign of rotting. When this happens, try to remove those parts, and see if it helps. If it doesn’t, and the plant continues to change color to black, then it is too late to save it.
What you could do it try to find the reason for rotting. It can happen when you overwater your plant, so make sure to follow our guidelines about watering, to avoid this from happening again.
How to distinguish fertilizer burn from sunburn?
Both fertilizer burns and sunburns will cause similar symptoms, being brown and darken leaves. The best way of distinguishing them is to memorize your routine.
If you are certain that you didn’t expose your King of the Air Plant to too much sunlight, then the most probable reason for the brown parts is the fertilizer.
To avoid this from even happening, make sure to use only fertilizers made for Tillandsias, and to track seasonal changes, so you know whether it is safe to put your air plant to a sunnier location, even outside.
What type of pot should I use for Tillandsia xerographica?
Air plants don’t need soil, so in truth, you don’t even need to use standard pots to grow them. You can literally put your xerographica plant whenever you want, even mix it up with some other plants.
However, this species can get quite big, so it is not recommended to keep it like that for a prolonged amount of time.
Instead, you can put it in a terrarium, display, or even a random bowl on your kitchen table. Basically, anywhere you want.