Tillandsia Tectorum, an air plant native to Ecuador and Peru, is a widely loved plant for good reason. Not only is this plant visually appealing with its whimsical, fuzzy trichomes, but it is also one of the easiest Tillandsias to tend to. Whether you’re an avid plant owner or a first-timer, this plant will thrive if you follow a few easy care instructions.
This air plant’s distinct appearance can be credited to the conditions in its native Andean climate. Tectorum plants of Peru are found growing in arid regions with full sunlight next to plants like cacti and agave. This bright ultraviolet sunlight exposure caused a need for the plants to adapt, and this is why they are seen with large trichomes – they need something to help reflect solar radiation. Tillandsia Tectorum grows in a variety of climates and elevations, and this causes some variations in plant size. Smaller plants will usually bloom at a mature size of 3-4 inches. It's even possible to see some plants grow up to a foot tall! Pink flowers with violet bracts are also sometimes seen on these plants.
Trichomes also serve another important purpose: they catch nutrients blowing in the wind. The open form of these plants is also useful during the rainy season when the plants are likely to experience heavy rainfall. They are able to dry off quickly by catching wind, which is important because the epidermis or “skin” under the trichomes shouldn’t be saturated for too long. When the plant is oversaturated, its natural transpiration or “breathing” process is in danger.
Speaking of this breathing process, it is very important that you do not submerge your Tectorum in water or let them remain wet! This air plant will be its healthiest when watered by misting every 1-3 weeks. Another care tip to keep in mind is that these air plants require more light than other species because they reflect so much light – direct sunlight is what’s best for Tillandsia Tectorum.
How to Care for Tillandsia Tectorum Ecuador
1. Water Sparingly
Unique from our watering recommendations for other species of Tillandsia, we advise you not to soak your Tectorum air plants. It's best to mist your plant every 1-3 weeks depending on the climate your plant is living. In damp climates, we suggest watering more frequently, while those living in dryer climates should be misted more often. Remove your air plant from its container for misting and wait for them to fully dry before returning them. Your plant will likely be fully dry about an hour after watering.
2. Expose Them to Bright Light
Tectorum plants reflect a good amount of solar radiation because of their white coloring. This means they need to be exposed to bright light in order to complete photosynthesis. Windows that get a lot of sunlight are a great place for these plants, as plants placed in low light conditions will either grow extremely slowly or not at all.
3. Avoid Over-Fertilization
Tectorum do not need the same amount of nutrients as other air plants because they are native to nutrient-poor environments. Tillandsia Tectorum do a great job of absorbing whatever nutrients are available, so they will thrive off the nutrients that come with a light misting of mineral, lake, or well water. When over-fertilized, these plants may experience foliar burn.