Tillys (Tillandsia stricta) is an evergreen perennial, clump-forming, short-stemmed air plant that grows up to 20 cm high and 4 inches across with leaves arranged into thick rosettes. There is an enormous number of varieties that can be found in Tillandsia stricta plants, from soft leaved specimens to much harder, stiffer types and different colored forms from light green leaves to silvery leaves and even verging on black. Tillys hard leaf is one of the most vibrantly hued blossoms in the genus and forms a wonderful clump over time. The forms of Tillandsia stricta with gray-scaly, light green leaves are adapted to take more sunlight than the green forms.
Matured Tillys plant produces bright red or bright rose bloom spikes with bright blue blossoms in summer. The spike is first held upright but then droops as it lengthens. The actual flowers are not long-lived, lasting for about a day at best before it starts wilting, but the colorful bracts remain attractive for up to 2 months. It is great for hanging basket or terrariums.
Species: T. stricta
Scientific Name: Tillandsia stricta Solander
Synonyms: Anoplophytum strictum (Sol. ex Ker Gawl.) Beer, Tillandsia rosea Lindl., Tillandsia conspersa Miq., Anoplophytum bicolor Beer, Anoplophytum krameri (André) E.Morren ex Baker, Tillandsia langsdorffii Mez, Tillandsia krameri (André) Baker.
Common Name: Tillys, Air Plant, Airplant, Erect Tillandsia, Upright Air Plant.
How to grow and care Tillys (Tillandsia stricta)
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.
Tillys 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.
Tillys 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.
Tillys 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. It 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.