tillandsia tectorum ecuador air plant

Air Plant Spotlight: Tillandsia Tectorum

1 comment by Jamie Beck

Everything You Need to Know About This South American Favorite

Tillandsia Tectorum, an air plant native to Ecuador and Peru, is widely loved for its whimsical, fuzzy leaves and simple maintenance. Whether you’re an avid plant owner or a first-timer, this plant will thrive if you follow a few easy care instructions. 

small and large tillandsia tectorum ecuador air plants

Tillandsia Tectorum'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.

Tectorum Care 

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 infrequently, 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.

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. 

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.

Displaying Tectorum

Ranging from 2 to 12 inches across, the Tectorum is a versatile air plant that can be displayed many ways. It's bright white appearance creates a beautiful contrast against other air plant and floral designs. The flat base allows the plant to sit atop a surface without the need of a vessel or planter for support. The "jumbo" Tectorum looks great displayed on its own on end tables or shelves. The smaller variants are so light making them perfect plants to attach to hanging displays or decorative wreaths. Often referred to as the "snowball air plant", the Tectorum is a favorite for holiday decor and gifting. Check out this mini Tectorum in a holiday ornament!

Love the Tillandsia Tectorum air plant? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to hear about our sales and promotions. Learn all about Tillandsia by checking out our YouTube channel!

1 comment

  • May

    Loved your video, was so delighted to see how much you contribute to the local community, family, and economy! You have to be very proud of your accomplishments. I’m proud of you for doing all of that. I have many, many of your air plants and enjoy them so much. Congratulations for your 10th Anniversary.

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