Spanish Moss (Tillandsia Usneoides)

Spanish Moss hanging from trees in the southern US

Air plants are very different from most house plants. They are very easy to care for. Tillandsia Usneoides, or Spanish moss, grows abundantly on oak trees in the South. It is not surprising that they often escape our notice.

A few Native American tribes called it “itla-okla” which means tree hair. The French called it “Barbe Espagnol” which means Spanish beard. With the passage of time, the Spanish beard became known as Spanish moss. It is the most common air plant in the US.

Tillandsia Usneoides is a flowering plant that grows upon the branches of big and sturdy trees like the Oak Tree or the Bald Cypress Tree. They grow hanging on the branches of the trees in full sun or partial shade, in the southeastern part of the United States. Tillandsia Usneoides or Spanish moss propagates by seed, wind, and birds. When it blooms, it can be very fragrant in the morning, especially when it is in shade.

We have compiled a list of all the factors that you should consider in Tillandsia Usneoides care. Here is everything you need to know about Tillandsia Usneoides and its care:

What is Spanish Moss (Tillandsia Usneoides)?

Tillandsia Usneoides is an epiphyte that is native to Mexico, Central and Southern America, West Indies and Queensland, Australia.

It grows at an altitude of 0 to over 3000 meters. It grows in regions where the climate is warm and the humidity is high to average. It absorbs moisture and nutrients, especially calcium from air and water. It has a slender stem that bears thin curly and scaly leaves.

Their thin stems are covered with grey scales that are tiny leaves. Since the plant does not have aerial roots, these minute leaves help in absorbing nutrients and moisture. The flowers are small and pale yellow or greenish-yellow in color.

Scientific Name

Carl Linnaeus described this species of Tillandsia Usneoides in 1762. The scientific name of this air plant is Tillandsia Usneoides. It is also known by the names of Spanish moss, Grandpas beard, Tillandsia Trichoides, and Renealmia Usneoides.

Scientific Classification

It is a species of the genus Tillandsia and belongs to the family of Bromeliaceae.

Flower

Tillandsia Usneoides blooms from a scaly and small floral bract. The flowers are very small, non-tubular, and have a pale yellow or greenish-yellow color. The plant usually blooms in warmer months and is very fragrant in the morning or when it is in poor light.

Hardiness

Tillandsia Usneoides is a winter-hardy plant that falls under the 7a to 11b zones of USDA hardiness, which means it can survive in temperatures from 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius) to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).

Spanish Moss (Tillandsia Usneoides) Care

While this Spanish Moss guide will help you take care of the plant, it is important to consider your climate too.
The healthy growth of Tillandsia Usneoides depends on the following:

  • The climate of the area you live in,
  • The conditions you keep the plant in
  • How much time you spend on its maintenance and care

Some important factors to consider in Tillandsia Usneoides care are as follows:

Water

Tillandsia Usneoides likes water and humidity and it is essential for its growth.

Soak the plant once or twice in summers by submerging it in water with its base for 10 minutes. In winters, soaking bi-weekly is enough. You can mist it with water between the soakings if you live in a hot and dry region. Avoid keeping the plant in full sun unless there’s a sprinkler system or regular watering.

Tillandsia Usneoides is a chlorine sensitive plant so it is better to water it with rainwater or pond water rather than using tap water. Too much chlorine in the water can even kill the plant.

It is also important to dry the plant within 20-30 minutes by placing it in direct sunlight or on a towel. Excessive watering can lead to rotting or fungal growth.

Light

Tillandsia Usneoides needs a lot of light and grows best in bright filtered light. Avoid placing the plant in full sun as it can dehydrate the plant unless the humidity level in the air is high. You can use a translucent blind if you want to place it near a window.

Temperature

Tillandsia Usneoides is a winter-hardy plant that can stand small frosts, provided it is dry. The appropriate range of temperature for this air plant is 10 to 32 degrees Celsius. It grows actively if you maintain the temperature above 15 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

Fertilizer

By regularly providing fertilizer, you can ensure healthy growth of Tillandsia Usneoides. Moderate doses of fertilizer twice or thrice a month in summers and once a month in winters are enough for Tillandsia Usneoides. Mix the fertilizer in water in a diluted solution for healthy growth.

How to Identify Spanish Moss (Tillandsia Usneoides)

You can identify Tillandsia Usneoides or Spanish moss by the chain-like structure of the leaves. The stems are slender with many grey scaly leaves and they hang down the branches of a tree or a container. The nontubular flowers are pale yellow or greenish-yellow in color.

How to Display Spanish Moss (Tillandsia Usneoides)

You can display Tillandsia Usneoides in many different ways in your house. Following are some creative ways to display your plant to give more character to your indoor space:

Terrariums

Moss terrariums are beautiful display containers for décor or gifts. There are different sizes and shapes of terrariums to choose from. You can add sand, pebbles, rocks, marbles, seashells, plastic figurines, etc to enhance the beauty of your terrarium.

You can even lay a layer of sand or rocks in the terrarium to keep the air plant on. You can display terrariums on furniture and can even tie a decorative string or a bow around the terrarium or on top of it.

Aeriums

Aeriums are like terrariums and they are another creative way to display your air plant. Like terrariums, you can add different decorative objects like pebbles, rocks, sand, and shells. You can hang the aerium suspended in the air with a decorative string or place it on tabletops.

Mounting

Spanish Moss is usually suspended without a solid mounting object as the slender stems hang everywhere.

You can also mount it on driftwood or a branch letting it hang on the mounting object. You do not need to use an adhesive to stick the base to the mounting object. It can do well by laying on an object.

Final Thoughts

Tillandsia Usneoides is a grown epiphytic air plant in the USA. It enjoys a good amount of light and thrives well with regular watering. These tips about Tillandsia Usneoides care can help your air plant grow and bloom in an indoor setting.

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