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Xela's Garden

Air plant Tillandsias Ionantha [V]

Set up '08 Vistabile kitchen window-sill

Bought '08 Well End Garden Centre, Wendover for £1.99

It grows at elevations of 450-1,700 meters from Mexico to Nicaragua. It is a most popular species. It is attractive, small and easy to cultivate. In the natural environment it is often exposed to the full intensity of the elements so it is particularly adapted to severe arid conditions. It normally grows in groupings of three to five plants. Sometimes it develops into large clumps that may completely encircle a tree branch. The leaves are lettuce to fern green and sometimes tinged with crimson. This may be part of the plant’s genetic makeup, a result of bright light and humidity, the approach of blooming time, or death.

To make sure the plant is healthy, the centremost leaves should be tugged gently. If they remain intact, the plant is fine. Should they pull out easily, and if the bases of the pulled leaves are brown or black, continue removing the centremost leaves until resistance is felt. What remains should be allowed to dry for a few days, after which the plant can be cultivated in the usual fashion. This will probably result in a number of offsets. The grape violet flowers emerge from the centre of the plant on abbreviated spikes deep within the plant. They are 8 to 10 cm in height and width.

It is a durable species. With its attractiveness and size, the plant is ideal to locate on a kitchen windowsill, where it can receive strong light and be observed frequently.

Photos of this plant