Tillandsia caput-medusae is an attractive epiphytic bromeliad native to Central America and Mexico. The thick, channeled, tapering and twisting leaves are up to 10 inches (25 cm) long and are covered in small gray hairs. The rosette of leaves arise from an inflated pseudobulb. As with all Tillandsias they are very easy to grow.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plants can bloom from spring to early summer. The red inflorescences are usually unbranched or digitate. Bright violet flowers are about 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) long with the stamens exserted. They are very showy.
Culture: Tillandsia caput-medusae need full sun to very bright interior light with high humidity. In the greenhouse, we attach ours to slabs of oak wood with small staples holding the roots on the wood until they attach themselves. This can also be done with a small patch of hot glue (just not too hot) to hold the plants in place. Around the base, we use reindeer moss to cover the roots and to hold moisture. In the growing season, the plants are misted daily and humidity levels run between 65-75% at all times. Fertilizers are not needed, since the plants get all their nutrients from the water and air. In late fall, misting is restricted for the winter rest period, with plants misted once or twice weekly depending on the humidity levels in the greenhouse. The plants in nature are extremely drought tolerant.
Propagation: Tillandsia caput-medusae is easily propagated by removal of offsets at any time of the year.
Tillandsia caput-medusae was featured as Plant of the Week May 26-June 1, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.