air plant tillandsia streptophylla

Air Plant Spotlight: Tillandsia Streptophylla

by Jill Little

Tillandsia Streptophylla is a fun and unique air plant that’s pastel-green leaf variations create funky and irregular shapes, making it one of our favorite species here at Air Plant Shop! Deriving from the Greek words “streptos” and “phyllon”, Streptophylla means “with twisted leaves” which is very appropriate for this air plant that is also nicknamed the ‘Shirley Temple’ and ‘Linguine’ plant.

air plant tillandsia streptophylla

Indigenous to Mexico and Central American countries including Guatemala and Honduras, Tillandsia Streptophylla can be found at various elevations from sea level to higher pine forests at nearly 3,000 ft altitude! This goes to show that the species grows well under varied conditions. While they are generally considered a xeric species with their thick, trichome-rich leaves, we’ve also seen them in low-lying branches on the hot and humid Rio Dulce in Guatemala – check out our Tillandsia Safari: Parque Nacional Río Dulce, Guatemala blog! These various climates and environments have a direct effect on the body shape of the Streptophylla plants. In dry conditions, the plants will be likely to have a round and tightly closed shape with leaves that curl under the base – as seen on the right in the image. Streptophylla found in humid climates with sufficient rainfall will have a more open form with leaves that wildly grow upwards and outwards – as seen on the left in the image. Along with body shape, the Streptophylla air plants will also vary in size ranging from just over an inch in diameter to over eight inches tall! Here at the shop, we offer four sizes of Streptophylla, Small, Medium, Large and Jumbo.

Streptophylla Care

air plant tillandsia streptophylla bloom spike

Due to its adaptability, Tillandsia Streptophylla is a hardy, easy-to-care-for air plant. The base of the plant is called a pseudobulb meaning it is hollow, round, and bulbous with curved sheaths. In the wild, this bulbous base houses ant colonies. Due to the formation of the Streptophylla base, the plants are more susceptible to rot so it is important to always shake the excess water after a good soak. The xeric nature of the plants makes them drought-tolerant so they prefer to be regularly dunked, rinsed, or heavily misted with the occasional soaks. As with most Tillandsia, adequate air circulation and plenty of bright light make for a happy plant. Under ideal conditions, Streptophylla will blush and bloom a pink inflorescence that will last for several weeks. If kept outdoors, you may see this vibrant bloom attract hummingbirds!

Decorating with Streptophylla

air plant tillandsia stresptophylla decorate display

The Streptophylla is the ideal Tillandsia to decorate with! Its rounded base allows the plant to easily be displayed without a container and it sits nicely on a shelf or windowsill. Place alone or with other air plants, stones, or reindeer moss on a dish or board for an earthy centerpiece. Or try combining it with our top-selling Large Driftwood Container as seen in the photo to the right. Streptophylla is also a great candidate for hanging planters and vertical displays. Use caution, however, when mounting the plant as the base will need plenty of fresh air circulation. Mounting it horizontally will help to prevent rot from water being retained in the base.

Shop our multiple sizes of Streptophylla to add them to your collection and be sure to check out our Streptophylla hybrids called the Curly Slim (Intermedia x Streptophylla) and Eric Knobloch (Brachycalous x Streptophylla) plants.


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