Tillandsia Houston Air Plant

5 Facts About Tillandsia Hybrids

by Jamie Beck

Being the fascinating species that they are, some varieties of Tillandsia plants readily hybridize with other Tillandsia, making an altogether new species or form of air plant. These hybrids are some of the most unique plants that you can find. Today we are going to discuss some fun facts about Tillandsia hybrids.

 Tillandsia hybrids are some of the most sought after and rare plants in the world of air plants.

T. houston is a hybrid between T. stricta and T. recurvifolia. This hybrid was created by a botanist Mark Dimmitt. 


Tillandsia houston "cotton candy" air plant

Tillandsia houston "cotton candy" ( T. stricta x T. recurvifolia) 


Another favorite is the T. victoriana, which is a hybrid between T. ionantha and T. brachycaulos.


Tillandisa victoriana air plant

Tillandsia T. victoriana ( T. ionantha x T. brachycaulos) 


T. streptophylla hybrid ( T. Eric Knobloch)  is a hybrid of T. streptophylla and T. brachycaulos and is named after Eric Knobloch, the man who hybridized it. 


Tillandsia streptophylla hybrid air plant

T. Eric Knobloch ( T. streptophylla x T. brachycaulos) 

Hybridized air plants can often grow to be larger than their parent plants, and might look more like one of the parent plants over the other, or exhibit altogether different characteristics due to the hybridization. Hybrids can often be more resilient and more hardy than the individual parent plants as well. 


Tillandsia streptophylla hybrid in bloom


The Tillandsia streptophylla hybrid can grow to be much larger than either of its parent plants 

Hybrid air plants that occur naturally are written with the plant that produced the pollen first and the plant that produced the seed, second. Example: T. capitata x T. xerographica. Tillandsia hybrids that are human made are given a non-Latin capitalized name without the “x”. An example would be the Tillandsia Eric Knobloch which is also known as T. streptophylla hybrid. 


Tillandsia capitata x xerographica hybrid air plant

T. capitata x T. xerographica 

There are natural hybrids that occur out in the wild, and some of these are considered “introgressive hybrids.” An introgressive hybrid means that a plant has grown as a natural hybrid and has become so numerous in its natural habitat, that it is now classified as its own species. One of the most common of these introgressive hybrids is the T. rectifolia, a hybrid of the T. schiedeana and T. ionantha.  

Tillandsia rectifolia air plant

Tillandsia rectifolia ( T. schiedeana x T. ionantha)                   

One of the most prolific hybridizers of air plants and numerous other plant species, is grower and botanist, Mark Dimmitt. He has been collecting and growing Tillandsia since the early 1970’s. A couple of his most popular hybrids are the T. houston ‘Cotton Candy,’ (T. stricta x T. recurvifolia) and T. curly slim  (T. intermedia x T. streptophylla) among many others.

Tillandsia curly slim air plant

Tillandsia curly slim ( T. intermedia x T. streptophylla)