The Tillandsia plants or air plants have become widely popular in the modern home gardening scene. They have become home gardener’s favorite choice of plants. This is in thanks to their ease of care, ability to grow soil-less, and their creative displays.
They are perfect for those who love the look of greenery in heir homed decor but don’t have too much time on their hands.
Not just that, this family of plants is huge. With over 650 different species, each having a unique aesthetic, you have a lot of variety to choose from.
One of the popular species in the Tillandsia genus is the Tillandsia Caput Medusae plant. With its snake-shaped leaves that are wide, sturdy and thick, this air plant brings a strange yet exotic flair to your indoor spaces. It’s silvery green or blue in color with hues of purple throughout the base of the plant that extends upwards. In this gardening guide, you will find out all that you need to know about how to grow and care for this mysterious plant.
What is Tillandsia Caput Medusae?
Tillandsia Caput Medusae is an air plant native to regions of South America, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. It grows on tree branches in areas with strong sunlight at altitudes up to 2000 meters.
These plants get their name from Medusa, an evil creature in Greek mythology whose hair strands were made of poisonous snakes. If you look at the snake-shaped leaves of this plant, you will understand why it got this name. You shouldn’t feel scared because there’s definitely nothing evil about this plant.
Charles Jacques Edouard Morren was the first one to describe this plant in the year 1880.
The scientific name of the plant is Tillandsia Caput Medusae. That said, it’s also known as Medusa’s head, medusa plant or the octopus plant.
Tillandsia Caput Medusae belongs to the family Bromeliaceae and order Poales.
Tillandsia Caput Medusae or the octopus plant is a flowering plant that blooms in early summer when growing in its natural habitat.
When cultivated, its flowering period is usually in spring to early summer. The vibrant violet-pink flowers are about 3.2 centimeters long. They arise from red inflorescences that are digitate and unbranched. They also produce pups or offsets after blooming.
Tillandsia Caput Medusae falls under USDA hardiness zones 9 and 11. This means it can withstand temperatures as low as 20 °F to 50 °F (or -6.7 °C to +10 °C).
Tillandsia Caput Medusae Care
Tillandsia Caput Medusae plants are very easy to care for like other species of this family. They will not need you to take follow any complicated or lengthy care routines. Here are some of the requirements for this striking plant.
The Medusa plant doesn’t need too much water. Unlike other air plants, it doesn’t even prefer to be soaked in water. You should use misting or spraying to water this plant.
Mist it 2-3 times during summers and focus on the head of the plant rather than the bulbous base. There is good chance water will get trapped in the base of the plant, so you should allow the plant to dry completely.
If you do soak them, keep the soak short (say 10-15 minutes) and make sure to turn the plant upside down and shake it.
During winters, you can reduce the misting to once a week or adjust the frequency if you feel like the plant is starting to wilt. If the leaves of the Medusa plant begin to curl, this indicates that the plant requires water.
This plant prefers bright light with some shade. If you provide it with some morning and evening sun but not direct or against a shade, it works well. Putting it near a north-facing window that’s curtained is the ideal location for the Medusa plant.
Medium to warmer temperatures helps the Caput Medusae plant to flower. So, it’s best to keep this plant in a temperature of 18-30 °C (65-86 °F). Just make sure the temperature doesn’t go below 12 °C because that will hinder the growth.
You can fertilize this plant with moderate doses of bromeliad fertilizer (17-8-22) once or twice a month during spring and summer. In winters, a once-a-month dose would be more than enough. But, be careful not to over-fertilize the plant.
How to Identify Tillandsia Caput Medusae?
Tillandsia caput medusa or the octopus plant is a large, epiphytic, evergreen plant that can reach up to 40 centimeters in size. It has very little roots and a somewhat bulbous base.
The plant features a thick, channeled, twisting, and tapering rosette of leaves that arise from a sturdy pseudobulb. The leaves are silver-green to blue in color with tiny grey hairs.
When the plant blooms, the center leaves will blush a pale pink. Cherry red flower stalks emerge and from them come out bright purple and white flowers that give this plant a lovely new look.
How to Display Tillandsia Caput Medusae
Tillandsia caput medusa can make for a captivating addition to your indoor garden. Like other air plants, you can be as creative as you want when it comes to how to display this species. It’s best displayed by mounting it to objects but can also be added to terrariums or aeriums.
Medusa plants look great when mounted on wood (large branch), cork, rocks, in a plant holder, or on similar objects. You can place them horizontally, upright or even upside down.
However, you need to be careful is that the material should not be water retentive. Use a strong adhesive to stick the air plant to the base of the mounting object. Ensure that the mounting object is not prone to fungal growth because that will damage your plant.
Caput Medusae air plants look great mounted in vertical displays. You can also display them in terrariums with seashells and sand for a quirky, beachy feel.
Tillandsia Caput Medusae looks wonderful in both open and sealed glass terrariums. You can use decorative objects like pebbles, seashells and put them inside the terrarium to make it more interesting.
Aerium is another type of glass container that can be used for air plant display. It is very like a terrarium but allows air to pass through the container. These can be suspended in the air using decorative strings.
Tillandsia Caput Medusae is an eye-catching sight with its leaves twirling in an extraordinary fashion. With a little care and attention that this plant demands, it can add uniqueness to your indoor locations, whether on a bookshelf or an end table.