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Bromeliaceae Open discussion of xeric bromeliads such as Hechtia, Dyckia, Puya, and others

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Old 08-13-2013, 02:58 PM
Stan Stan is offline
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Default Tillandsia roots..

Anybody notice that Tillandsia's are sold with almost no roots at all? Is that healthy for the plant? And it seems to take years for them in California to attach themselves solidly.
DO the roots wear off in bins? Or are they simply pulled apart with no roots included? Just wondering.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:46 PM
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It's my understanding that the roots are essentially holdfasts. The trichomes serve to absorb nutrients, at least on the atmospheric Tillandsias, and this has been confirmed with the use of radioisotope tracers. See David Benzing's book "Biology of the Bromeliads".


For what it is worth, I used to use Liquid Nails (TM) to attach Tillandsias to cork bark and became convinced that this adhesive promoted root growth but I have no proof of that. I also crumbled long fiber sphagnum moss and sprinkled it over the sticky adhesive, primarily to camouflage it.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:37 PM
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As mentioned, roots generally aren't necessary for Tillandsias to grow and thrive. The roots are primarily used as a hold-fast, but if given the opportunity they seem to retain the function of nutrient and water uptake. Some species just don't rely on roots and I have never seen them grow them from vegetative offsets--the most obvious and extreme example is Tillandsia usneoides which will produce roots when grown from seed, but once mature no roots seem to form along the length of the plant.

The best way to promote root growth from my experience is that the plants need to be completely immobile and not 'wiggling' on the substrate (which might be why glue is so successful for some people). This is with regards to mounting them on wood, branches, or rocks. The larger plants that are an 'open vase' like Tillandsia fasciculata will root mounted or potted.

Some species seem to only root on wood, some only on rock, and others don't seem to care as long as they are secured firmly. The rock growers seem to be the most selective. Sometimes they really want a specific rock type, other times they will like any rock (large chunks of lava rock are great for things like T. mima). I have a mystery plant of what I assume is a South American cliff grower. For a couple of years I tried growing it in different potting mixes with no success. I was afraid of rotting it and decided to put it in a pot of 3/4" red lava rock...literally within a week or two roots had started forming!

When mounting, I tend to use wire, twist ties, zip ties, fishing line, etc. I tend not to use glues. Just personal preference as the glues never seem to work and when the leaves die with age, the plant just falls off. But I have moved away from mounting my Tillandsias on wood mounts anyways. I have switched to potting as many as possible and then the other hanging free style with wires, chains, and fishing line. But that is all just personal preference.

I have a friend who mounts every single plant very neatly. The best thing about that is it is much easier to keep the proper tags on the plants (nicely tucked behind the wood or cork). Basically you just have to find your best/favorite method of growing them. Some are easier and better to grow with certain methods. You will find what works for you with trial and error.

Oh, and just don't grow them in those glass balls/globes. Please.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:01 PM
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This is a bit tangential, but a number of years ago when in central Florida (Kissimmee area) I noticed that a lot of T. fasciculata and simlar species had fallen to the ground and had rooted in the substrate. The substrate was almost pure sand, with maybe 10% at most of organic matter, mostly decayed leaves. Afterward, I tried potting up this species and other semi-mesic Tillandsias in such a medium and in osmunda. The response was very good - the plants grew much more rapidly than when mounted and bloomed robustly. Obviously they were absorbing nutrients through the roots. So - the roots CAN be more than holdfasts.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madabouteu View Post
This is a bit tangential, but a number of years ago when in central Florida (Kissimmee area) I noticed that a lot of T. fasciculata and simlar species had fallen to the ground and had rooted in the substrate. The substrate was almost pure sand, with maybe 10% at most of organic matter, mostly decayed leaves. Afterward, I tried potting up this species and other semi-mesic Tillandsias in such a medium and in osmunda. The response was very good - the plants grew much more rapidly than when mounted and bloomed robustly. Obviously they were absorbing nutrients through the roots. So - the roots CAN be more than holdfasts.
Some like,T.capute medusae seem to have bases that seem very ..robust? And to buy one with no roots whatsoever got me to wonder why. And that the bulbil types like that seem touchy added to my questioning of sellers not leaving any roots at all.
Thanks !
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:57 PM
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A lot of the more 'atmospheric' species, especially the pseudo-bulbous types like to grow sideways. If they are held upright they are more prone to holding too much water and rotting. The pseudo-bulbous ones in particular are myrmecophytic (talk about tangential). I tend to let these ones hang and dangle.

They do usually/eventually root. I have good success rooting them onto dangling branches.

Here is the way I grow some with jute twine. This one grew into a nice clump upright like this, but eventually (two years after it bloomed) it rotted and broke into individual pups.


Here are some habitat shots to give you an idea of their natural growth habit. Rarely do I see large clumps...I assume the rot and fall apart before they can get all too big.

Most typically growing on trees:










Here growing on a Cryosophila nana palm tree (talk about an epiphyte magnet!).



And even growing on rocks:



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Old 08-16-2013, 02:12 PM
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Great post of pics. I never would have guessed or believed that that they actually do grow much more often hanging or sideways than vertical-or off the side of a rock,and a granite rock too.. Habitat photos are worth a fortune.
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:54 PM
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Yeah, it really helps to understand how to grow them better. The last picture the plants are growing on limestone! So even more interesting than the lichen covered granite in the other shots.
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Old 08-19-2013, 12:10 AM
theinvisiblegardener theinvisiblegardener is offline
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Default Look, but do not touch

Years ago, I was told to not touch, as it would destroy the water absorbing cells on the leaves, on such plants. Roots, I think, are primarily for attachments to a host plant. They can grow with/without roots. But these plants seem to...
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:19 PM
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Notice that they grow without any orientation to gravity. I started mounting my pseudobulbous Tillandsias with the growing points sideways or down, and got much better survival times.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:00 PM
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I touch my Tillandsias all the time (...just sounds dirty...), and it doesn't hurt them. If you aggressively rub off the fuzzy trichomes it will have deleterious effects, but the just normal handling of them is fine.

There isn't gravitropism on the individual as they are stemless plants...so it is hard to grow upward (unless it is one of the larger rosette plants that has a much longer lifespan...those often will germinate on the underside of a branch and grow up around the branch). But you can see it on the offsets. The offsets seem to always develop on the upper side of the mother plant. When I have noticed this being very pronounce it is usually on rock/cliff growers. Tillandsia capitata is my archetype for this...as the mother plant blooms and the weight of the seed pods grows, the rosette is pulled down a bit and the ~1-3 offsets are on the upper side of the mother rosette. Makes sense not to fight the senescing mother rosette. But I'm not sure if that is driven simply by auxins (gravitropism) or if it is also driven by the exposure to more light. The side of the plant that gets more light always seems to produce more offsets (even if grown upright where gravity/auxins wouldn't play a role).
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:43 AM
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Nice habitat shots Andy.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:17 PM
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I sometimes have dreams of these kinds of trees liberally festooned with tillandsias. And I find myself tickled pink in being able to climb up into the branches and collect some! And, since I have actually done this on a few occasions, it seems like an echo of that time.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:40 PM
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I've never been spry enough to climb trees , not since I was a young boy, but there is a heck of a thrill just to look at a tree thick with Tillandsias. The only experience I have had that compares (at least plant - related) - was finding a Toumeya papyracantha in a tuft of grass.
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Old 12-11-2013, 08:58 PM
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Talking Spry enough...

...to climb trees? I was when younger & am not sure that my age would prevent me even now! I just love tillandsias, esp. when they are (a) free, and (b) have locality data (in this case mine!).

I distinctly remember seeing an oak tree just outside of Galeana, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, that had the most lovely colony of Tillandsia festucoides. This was back in, I guess, 1988?

Live Oaks are easy to climb.
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:04 PM
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Default Easy?

Easy is a relative term, especially if you are: a) 66; b) have a disease that mimics multiple sclerosis; and c) have been diagnosed with osteopenia, meaning your bones are not dense enough and thus liable to fracture! No, I will stay on the ground!!
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Old 03-05-2017, 11:09 PM
Orchidoofus Orchidoofus is offline
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by madabouteu View Post
...

For what it is worth, I used to use Liquid Nails (TM) to attach Tillandsias to cork bark and became convinced that this adhesive promoted root growth but I have no proof of that. I also crumbled long fiber sphagnum moss and sprinkled it over the sticky adhesive, primarily to camouflage it.
May I ask if Liquid Nails (TM) is a hot glue?
I've never seen it on garden or hardware supply outlets' shelves.
I have many Tillandsia plants, some of which have fallen off their mounts (as supplied - tied with pantyhose strips to sticks) without their roots.
I have remounted them as best I can, but as they have no roots I'm not confident they will not 'wiggle' - good description - and will fail to thrive.

The only tree I could place them in is a deciduous tree, so they will get frost in winter.
I'm therefore having to mount them on sticks or kindling strips.

Has anyone any other suggestions about what can keep them stable on their mounts?
Thank you.
(Forums are always more helpful than suppliers' sites)
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:16 AM
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Liquid Nails is sold in the US, and it is similar to Tilly Tacker, which was developed explicitly for gluing tillandisia roots. I'd say almost any cold glue that is sticky and silicone based would work fine.

I've used hot glue on tillandsias too, but eventually the plant breaks off just above the glued part, probably because it is too stiff and doesn't have much give.
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Old 03-06-2017, 02:20 AM
Orchidoofus Orchidoofus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viegener View Post
Liquid Nails is sold in the US, and it is similar to Tilly Tacker, ...
LOL!
We don't have TillyTacker down here either! Time to try eBay.

Thank you very much, Viegener.
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:31 PM
Viegener Viegener is offline
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I'd experiment with soft, sticky (waterproof) glues & avoid super glues or ones that would dissolve in rainwater.

From what I can tell, Tilly Tacker™ is basically a clear silicone glue, same as you would use around your bathroom shower, etc.
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