Spanish Moss: Perfect Air Plant – Details and Care Tips

Spanish Moss: Perfect Air Plant – Details and Care Tips
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They are not actual mosses. The plants are known for their thin and slender stem with scaly leaves. They can also bear flowers that are yellow or red in color. A species called the silver ghost has Gray-colored leaves with a green tint in them.

Quick Details of Spanish Moss

Common NamesTillandsia usneoides, Black Moss, Long Moss, Vegetable Horsehair, Spanish beard. Tree hair, kali’s hair old man’s beard
TypeIndoor / Semi-Shade Air Plant
MaintenanceLow/Moderate (Avoid touch with any kind of mettle), It requires humid environment
FloweringSummers (Normally in natural habitat only)
LightMedium to Bright Indirect Sunlight
WaterMedium (Spray or dip the Spanish moss in plastic water container).
Temperature10 – 32 Degree Celsius
Soil/MediaNo soil needed. Spanish Moss can be hanged on plant stick or plastic
FertilizerNo fertilizer needed
HabitatSouth and Central America, Southern U.S
ToxicityNIL
Common DiseasesIt is almost disease-free plant but in Indian climate high temperature can be harmful.
Scientific nameTillandsia usneoides

Overview of Spanish Moss:

It is a flowering epiphyte belonging to the family of Bromeliaceae. They grow on huge trees and are seen hanging down from them. Since they are epiphytes, they do not have any aerial roots and derive nutrients from the host trees without causing any damage to them. The leaves are thin and scaly and mostly gray colored. The stems are thin and slender and can grow up to a height of 240 inches. If not monitored the Spanish moss can grow and spread as a thick cover on the host plant thus blocking the light from entering the trees and reducing its growth.

Special features of Spanish Moss:

People grow this plant as an Air Plant. The plants are epiphyte and do not have a proper root system. The scaly leaves make the plant look attractive and also prevents excess loss of water due to transpiration.

Uses of Spanish Moss:

Used as an ornamental plant

General Care of Spanish Moss

Soil/Media: They do not require soil for growth. The Spanish moss is mostly grown on living trees, but an old branch of a tree can also be used for growing it. The Spanish moss should be hanging straight down from the substrate on which it is grown. Forming a cluster or a mass of the plant can prevent healthy growth.

Light: They prefer bright indirect light. The direct rays of the sun can have a damaging effect on the plants. They are to be placed in an area that has the provision of indirect bright light.

Watering: They require an ample amount of water. The Spanish moss prefers water and grows in humid places, but an excess of water is not suitable for their growth. They are deeply watered until the whole plant is wet and dripping and can be left without water until the plant is completely dry again. Most species turn greenish when watered and turn back to gray color when dried out. Turning back to gray color 20-30 minutes after watering is an indication of adequate watering.

Fertilizer: Does not need any fertilizer.

Pruning: The tips of the stems can be cut once in a while. The Spanish moss is slow growers so pruning regularly is not required. Pruning can also make the plants produce side shoots making it bushier. This can be harmful to the host plant.

Diseases in Spanish Moss:

It is not susceptible to diseases. However, if over watered or left in water for a long period, it can develop rot. A spider called the Pelegrina tillandsia Kaston is said to live on Spanish moss.

Propagation of Spanish Moss:

Propagation can be done through division or seeds. The division is a preferred method as growing from seeds can take a lot of time and is slow.

The division can be done by taking the plantlets or the side shoots from the main plant and planting them on to a substrate.

The seeds can be sown on the well-drained substrate and kept near a window with proper sunlight. Growing from seeds is not common in non habitat places.

Since the Spanish moss is an epiphyte it requires a tree or a plant for its growth.

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