Tillandsia Recurvata

the airplant tillandsia recurvata also know as ball moss in a tree

There are various types of air plants that are epiphytic. These plants grow on other plants or objects for support and do not take nutrients from the host plant.

They absorb moisture from their leaves and photosynthesize their own food. Epiphytic plants are rare in dry environments but Tillandsia Recurvata is an exception. It thrives in coastal deserts of Mexico and gets water from the marine layer.

Native to warmer regions of America, Tillandsia Recurvata is an epiphytic air plant that grows on other plants. It is a pest to trees and is often removed from them. It is a small-sized air plant that curves back to the size of a golf ball. Being an epiphytic plant, it grows on trees, bushes, and cacti. It sometimes also grows as a pterophyte on rock faces at over 3000 meters.

Read this article to learn everything about the unique epiphytic plan, Tillandia Recurvata.

You can buy a Tillandsia Recurvata here.

What is Tillandsia Recurvata?

Tillandsia Recurvata is also known as “small ball moss” and grows in warmer regions. It has many scaly, recurved, and linear leaves that curl back to form a dense spheroid cluster. It grows 6-12 inches tall and blooms from a simple inflorescence with a small spike.
The shape of Tillandsia Recuvata varies and often confused with other species of Tillandsia for this reason.

Scientific Name

This species of Tillandsia was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1762. The scientific name of this air plant is Tillandsia Recurvata. It’s also known as Renealmia Recurvata, Tillandsia Pauciflora, Tillandsia Monostachya, and Tillandsia Uniflora.

Scientific Classification

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


Tillandsia Recurvata takes about 3 years to mature and flower and then blooms for the next 7 years. It blooms from a simple inflorescence with a spike head at the end of thin and scaly stalk. The inflorescence grows very few flowers, sometimes even only a single flower.

The small 3 mm flowers are sessile, nontubular and mauve or purple in color.


Tillandsia Recurvata falls under the 8a-11 zones of USDA hardiness, which means it can survive in extreme temperatures like from 10-40 degrees Fahrenheit (from -12.2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius).

Tillandsia Recurvata Care

Tillandsia Recurvata is a very easy to grow plant. They are sold as houseplants and used for décor in living spaces.

Plant care of any type of plant becomes significant when you take it from its natural habitat and grow it in your living space. But, with some time and effort, you can help this air plant to thrive in your home.

Following are some of the important aspects of Tillandsia Recurvata care:


The watering need of most air plants depend on the environment you keep them in. If you live in a hot and dry climate, then misting can be insufficient as the only method of watering.

During the active growth of Tillandsia Recurvata, soak the plant in water once a week for 30-60 minutes. After taking out the plant from the water bath, shake off the excess water trapped between the clusters of leaves.

Put it in indirect sunlight or on a towel to let it dry completely. You should dry the plant completely in the next 4 hours to prevent rotting and fungal growth.

You can mist or spray the plant during regular watering if you live in a region with a dry climate. If you leave the plant unattended for over two weeks, then soak the plant in a water bath for 12 hours before leaving. Then soak it again for 12 hours on your return.

It is preferable to use rain, pond or spring water for your air plant. But for Tillandsia Recurvata, you can also use filtered water or tap water.

Make sure to wait for the chlorine in the water to dissipate. This takes a few days so plan ahead.


Bright filtered light is best for Tillandsia Recurvata but avoid full sun exposure. You can use a translucent blind to filter the sunlight for your air plant.

If you want to move the plant outside, then acclimate the air plant to increased levels of sunlight. Abruptly shifting it from indoors to bright sunlight can burn its leaves.


The appropriate range of temperature for Tillandsia Recurvata is 10-32 degrees Celsius. This species of Tillandsia grows well in a warm climate. It also needs good air circulation and a moderate to high level of humidity.


Moderate doses of fertilizer once or twice a month in summers and once a month in winters are enough for Tillandsia Recurvata.

Check out our favorite air plant care tools here.

How to Identify Tillandsia Recurvata

Tillandsia Recurvata‘s shape can vary so it’s often confused with other species. Tillandsia Recurvata is a small air plant that has scaly, recurved and linear leaves of gray-green color.

In the autumn season, it grows a simple inflorescence that has a thing scaly stalk with a spiky head. Usually, it can be identified by the recurving of its leaves into a spheroid shape.

Displaying Tillandsia Recurvata

Tillandsia Recurvata can be displayed in many different ways because it grows on lots of different surfaces. Plant parents use various creative ways to display this specie of Tillandsia inside their house.

Here are some interesting ways to display this air plant:


Glass containers are often used to display air plants in rooms. One type of such glass containers is called a terrarium that can be open or sealed.

You can add different decorative objects with the air plant in the terrarium. Pebbles, moss, seashells are some of the things to add in your terrarium to enhance the beauty of your air plant. You can place the terrarium on a tabletop or shelf or anywhere else in the room as you like.


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. You can lay a bed of moss, sand or rocks for your air plant to be placed on. Aeriums are displayed in different creative ways in a room. You can even hang them suspended in the air with a decorative string.


This simple air plant can also be mounted on different objects to display it in a room. Usually, rocks, driftwood, and seashells are used to mount the air plant.

Use a strong plant adhesive, like Oasis Floral Adhesive, to stick the air plant to the mounting object. You can also use a wire to attach the plant to the base. Ensure that the mounting object is not prone to rot or fungal growth because that can harm your air plant.

Check out our favorite terrariums, aeriums, and displays here.


Tillandsia Recurvata can be a wonderful addition to your collection of air plants. Water, temperature, and light are some of the most important aspects of Tillandsia Recurvata care. With little but keen care of this perennial air plant, you can help it thrive for a long time.

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