Ball moss (Tillandsia recurvata) is a small, ornamental air plant. It has gray-green with scaly, recurved, linear leaves 2 – 6 inches long. The leaves occur in two ranks on opposite sides of the steam. The overlapping scales which cover the steams and leaves absorb water when they are wet. They tend to form a spheroid ranging in size from a golf ball to a soccer ball. In autumn they produce 6 inches erect spikes with one to seven funnel-shaped flowers with pale blue or violet petals and gray-scaly bracts at their bases.
After blossoming, produce club-like greenish-brown seed capsules. Most seedlings germinate on tiny branches and less often on the vertical bark of tree hosts, which has been suggested to indicate that the local spread of Ball moss is mainly by seeds sprouting from bird droppings on stems of shrubs and trees. It is ideal for terrariums and holders to more natural mounts, from vertical gardens to container gardening.
Subgenus: Tillandsia subg. Diaphoranthema
Species: T. recurvata
Scientific Name: Tillandsia recurvata
Synonyms: Renealmia recurvata, Diaphoranthema recurvata, Tillandsia monostachya, Tillandsia uniflora, Diaphoranthema uniflora, Tillandsia pauciflora.
Common Name: Ball moss, Small ballmoss, Bunch Moss.
How to grow and care for Ball moss (Tillandsia recurvata)
It thrives well in bright light, but not direct sunlight. The south, east, or west window is perfect. They can also be grown under fluorescent tubes.
Ball moss refers to be mounted on a solid substrate that does not retain water. You can glue the plant directly to the surface with a strong adhesive or you can wire the plant to the base. Don’t cover the base of the plant with moss or it may rot. It can be grown on almost any imaginable decorative mount, including shells, rocks, slate, driftwood, etc.
Water two to four times a week with a mister. If your environment is dry, mist daily. Water until the leaves are thoroughly wet. The water that runs off should be enough to wet the roots. Do not soak the base of a plant. Use rainwater or filtered tap water for misting your plant. Soft water contains too much salt and some tap water contains chlorine and fluoride that can leave water spots on foliage.
Ball moss thrives well in average room temperatures 60 degrees Fahrenheit – 75 degrees Fahrenheit / 16 degrees Celsius – 24 degrees Celsius.
Fertilize once every month with a low-copper liquid fertilizer, diluted to 1/4 strength.
It can be easily propagated by detaching offsets, or pups, from the base of the mother plant. When the pups are half the size of the mother, they can be divided and mounted on their own. Ball moss can also be grown from seed, but this is a slow process that might take years.
Pests and Diseases
Watch for mealybugs and scale insects on air plants. If your plant gets an infestation, treat it with a Tillandsia-safe pesticide. Leaf rot or fungal diseases can also be a problem when air plants are too damp.