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Tillandsia Magnusiana – Everything You Need to Know

by gardeningit
Tillandsia Magnusiana

Tillandsia magnusiana is also known as the Poor Man’s Tectorum. It is a modern-looking thin leafed air plant and is super easy to care for. Tillandsia magnusiana are classified as air plants, which means that these types of plants don’t need soil to grow. They get nutrients through their leaves. They are epiphytes and use their roots to attach themselves to trees or walls. Tillandsia magnusiana obtains nutrients from air and water to grow. Air plants have slow growth and can be grown in shallow dishes or by themselves.

There are over 600 different species of Tillandsia air plants such as Tillandsia Juncea, Ionantha, and Kautskyi. They are quite low maintenance and an excellent option for beginner gardeners. Tillandsia magnusiana is found naturally in southern and western Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and South America. It grows 1000-2000 meters above sea level. When grown indoors, they need much less attention than other indoor plants.

Classification of Tillandsia Magnusiana

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Poales
  • Family: Bromeliaceae
  • Subfamily: Tillandsioideae
  • Genus: Tillandsia

Scientific Name

This air plant was first described in 1889 by Marx Carl Ludwig Ludewig Wittmack (1707-1778). A Swedish Botanist, considered to be the father of modern Taxonomy. Another scientific name is Tillandsia Plumosa var. Magnusiana.

About Tillandsia Magnusiana

  • Plant Name: Tillandsia Magnusiana
  • Width: 3-5 inches
  • Height: 2-4 inches
  • Light: Bright indirect light, or a bright room.
  • Water: Mist regularly, dry after watering to avoid root rot, moderate moisture.
  • Temperature: 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit

 Features of Tillandsia Magnusiana

The Tillandsia is an epiphytic, which means it is not parasitic but uses objects such as rocks and trees as perches. They don’t need to be planted in soil and absorb nutrients and moisture through their leaves. The primary function of their roots is to provide support for climbing. It is drought tolerant.


The tube flowers appear in a spherical cluster on the branches. The flower is dark purple with yellow stamens. It has a red spike head from which the flower blooms. The stigma lies just above the other. A few weeks after flowering, tiny air plants grow from the base of the plant.


The Tillandsia magnusiana plant absorbs water through its soft, fuzzy leaves and not the roots. The leaves are covered with fur-like hair called trichomes, which reflect 70% of the light. The leaves are flexible and soft to touch, giving the plant a ball shape. Because of the numerous trichomes, they don’t need to be soaked with water. Misting is preferred. Leaves are thin and light-green in color.

Growth Guide

As compared to other plants, Tillandsia magnusiana grows slowly. There will not be noticeable growth for a year. The rate of growth will depend if the plant was grown from propagation or a seedling. The growth rate of seedlings will be 1 inch for the first two years. When they are older than two years, they grow a little faster. However, the plants which were developed from propagation will grow more quickly in comparison.

The seed-grown plants end up being bigger in the end. Plants grown from the offset will bloom within the first few years. Closely mimicking the native environment of the plant will significantly impact its growth. There is no exact time frame for when your plant will bloom. It can take years for your Tillandsia magnusiana to grow a few inches and bloom eventually or it can bloom faster than usual. Patience is the key. Slow growth means that your plant will not outgrow its display quickly. Some can grow up to 3 feet long.

Tillandsia Magnusiana Care

If the surrounding is not too dry, Tillandsia magnusiana can thrive by misting and intermittent baths. These plants should never be put in the soil. Filtered bright light is best for them. If the dryness is high indoors; then the plant must be submerged in water for 2-3 hours every fortnight. In summers, a soaking mist is needed once or twice a week, and in winters once a month.

Light Requirements for Tillandsia

Bright dappled light is recommended from April to October. If the humidity is high, higher light can work well too. These plants should not be left in direct sunlight to avoid sunburn. Indoors can be kept directly in front of a window. Make sure your windows are not tinted. However, from November to March they can be kept in direct sun. Fresh air is a bonus.

Artificial Light

Fluorescent light works best indoors. A distance of 6″-36″ is best. Four tube fixtures can also be used. Full-spectrum bulbs are also great. Whichever type of indoor lighting solution you use to make sure to set the timer to twelve hours each day.

Water Requirements

It is recommended to make your Tillandsia thoroughly wet a couple of times a week if you are living in warm and dry surroundings. If you are living in a cold and humid surroundings, then you can do it less often. After each watering, plants should be entirely dried for four hours by light and air circulation. Between regular watering, keep spraying your air plant when the weather is dry to increase the level of humidity.

Tillandsia will perish in standing water so if your plant is in a glass globe or shell, make sure to empty the water diligently. If you notice an exaggeration in the concave curve of the leaves, it is an indication that the air plant is under-watered. Tillandsia plants cannot use their roots to draw in water like other terrestrial plants. Nor can they draw water from an internal supply like succulents. Their trichomes (a coating of specialized cells) perform this task of water absorption.

Water Type

It is vital to check what kind of water you are using to water your air plants. Distilled and softened water is not a good idea to use for Tillandsias. Filtered tap water that has sat long enough to let the chlorine dissipate is the right choice. Aquarium and pond water are good options too, provided they aren’t too crowded with fish. If the Tillandsias are outdoors in the Southeast or Florida, you may never need to water them because of the high humidity of these habitats.

Indoors you may be required to water more often, depending on the warmth and dryness of your home. After each watering session, give your plants adequate light and air circulation for three hours to let them dry out completely. Strong winds are a disadvantage as they cause the plant to dry out quickly, be it indoors from a fan too. After soaking your plants, you should turn them upside down and give them a gentle shake. Morning is the best time to water your aeroplanes because, at night, the plants absorb carbon dioxide through their leaves. If the leaves are soaked, they will not be able to breathe.

Air Circulation

After each watering, Tillandsia magnusiana must be dried for four hours by giving enough light and air circulation. Plants should not be kept wet continuously. Drying too quickly is also not advisable, 1-3 hours drying time is best. When the surrounding is too hot, a breeze is welcome to cool the plant and take care of overheating.

Temperature Requirements

These plants are native to tropical climates, and their original habitat is humid. They cannot tolerate extreme cold, and most will die from frost. The optimum temperature is from 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizer Requirements

An air-plant specific or a bromeliad fertilizer can be used twice a year in the bath. This will ensure timely blooming and reproduction. If bromeliad fertilizer is not available, any water-soluble fertilizer can be used in the ratio of 1:4. But do not fertilize the new plants for the first couple of weeks. More than the required sunlight or fertilizer is harmful and can eventually kill your plant. Moderation is key.

Tillandsia Magnusiana Propagation

Air plants are propagated by seeds or by the division of pups. When the pups are about ⅓ of the parent plant in size, they are separated from them and planted. The preferred way to propagate air plants is by division. It should ideally be done in the early afternoon or the morning.

Follow the steps to propagate the offsets successfully:

  1. Using a suitable instrument, remove your Tillandsia plant from the display. Submerge your plant in a bath of water for two to three hours to hydrate it.
  2. Take your plant out of the water and gently shake off the excess water. Place it on a flat, stable surface. Look for the pups at the base, spreading the leaves to reveal them. Using your fingers gently locate the point of connection where the baby plant meets the parent plant.
  3. By gently tugging them, separate the pups from the mother plant from the base. Soak the baby plants in a bowl of water.
  4. Remount the mother plant to the mounting board again. Mount the offsets with crafting wire to your desired spot. Do not overcrowd the plants. Allow enough room for air circulation. Place the mounted plants in a bright and warm spot.
  5. Twice a day, mist your pups in the morning. If the leaves are moist at night, Tillandsia will not be able to breathe. They are nocturnal plants, which means they absorb carbon dioxide at night.

Growth Cycle

The lifecycle of a Tillandsia magnusiana constitutes the growth of a plant to maturity, blooming, and reproducing. After the flowers bloom, each plant produces 2-3 pups. The plants flower only once in a lifetime, and flowers can last from a few days to many months. Flowers bloom from mid-winter through mid-summer.

When the plant starts to clump, you should remove the dried leaves of the parent plant. Gently pull the leaf blades out and trim the dead areas. Once the mother plant is entirely removed a small gap is left which will be filled in by spending.

Removal of Air Plant Pups

The pups must be at least ⅓ of the size of the parent plant. Separate the mother and pup by holding them and giving a gentle tug and pull them apart. This can also be done by cutting the pup with a sharp instrument as close to the parent plant as possible. The mother plant will reproduce for several more years before dying.

How to Display Your Tillandsia Magnusiana

Air plants are quite hardy and will grow on practically any surface as long as you water them, and the plant gets enough light. They are quite versatile and grow well in driftwood, terra cotta or ceramic pots, seashells, corals, rocks, manzanita trees, lava rock, cork, small pots, sculptures, hanging or tabletop aeriums, crystals. Use any suitable glue to mount the plant on it. Place your plant on the mounting surface and stick the base of the plant on it, let dry.

If your container holds water, it is essential to empty the water because excess water makes your plant rot. If your plant is mounted, then it is advisable not to surround the plant with moss, as it will also hold excess water.

The roots of Tillandsia are used to anchor the plant on the host so gardeners can get very creative. It is important to note that air plants are epiphytic plants, which means that they grow non-parasitically on other plants. The air plant will practically grow anywhere in your home, e.g. in terrariums, seashells, etc

Mounting Your Tillandsias Magnusiana

Do not use super glue or copper wire to attach your air plant. Wire, fishing lines, nails, staples, etc. can be used to mount your plants. Use the nails or staples on the woody parts of the plants. Stapling the plant on the fleshy part will kill it, so avoid doing so. Be careful with your mounting material so that you can prevent rotting and fungus on your plant.

How to Mount Your Air Plants

Tillandsia magnusiana is easy to care for plants that grow in the air, and there are a lot of creative ways to show them off. Here are some ways in which the plant parents can display their air plants.


Containers and plant tanks must have one side of the mesh. Don’t place heat-producing bulbs nearby, to avoid overheating of plants. Fluorescent lights are recommended for optimal growth. Proper watering and air circulation should be followed through.


Your Tillandsia magnusiana can be grown in sealed clear glass containers called terrariums. You can fill your tank’s base with moss, pebbles, rocks, sand, or charcoal and create a miniature garden of a variety of plants. It is like an aquarium, but instead of fish, it has plants in it. You can display this anywhere in your home for an eye-catching decoration.


These are air plant globes and are the newest trend these days for displaying houseplants. It is a glass container housing a Tillandsia.

Timeline of Tillandsia Magnusiana

Tillandsia magnusiana plants flower at maturity. The parent plant will produce pups near maturity. The flowers only bloom once in their lifetime. After this, the parent plant dies off; however, the pups will grow into a mature plant. Flowers can last for days or months depending upon the plant species. Once the blooms appear, keep them out of water. You can still bath your plant, but be careful with the fragile petals. A comprehensive growth timeline is given below.

Day 1: Mount the baby plant or offset on a suitable medium. Also, place it in a warm and bright spot.

Day 2-30: Mist the pups twice a day, in the first half of the day.

Day 30-60: You can fertilize your baby plants at this stage. Misting should be done twice a week only.

Day 60 onwards: The pups will be growing as independent plants now. They can be moved outdoors too. Now the plant needs much less care and watering. An average plant will grow to about 50 cm.


There are over 500 species of Tillandsia growing in different habitats in the US. Native to tropical climates these air plants are quite hardy and need little care to thrive. They are exotic and colorful.  They are a crafty gardener’s dream. These plants can be placed at just about any spot in your home. With little love and care, these versatile plants can be grown or glued on any surface like driftwood, terrariums, or seashells.

Recently their popularity has increased many folds and has resulted in hybridization and an increase in the number of species. These charming little plants are a great addition to your indoor space, great for people living in apartments. Recently they have been grown inside Christmas and Halloween ornaments and figures.

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