Air plants, or Tillandsia (genus), are found in many different species, of all shapes, sizes, origins, environmental preferences, and care considerations. Even within a species, there can be many different forms, and the popular and prolifically grown ionantha species is a prime example of this.
Tillandsia ionantha species are in general smaller air plants that are popular for air plant novices and collectors alike as they work well in a variety of displays and are hardy plants that require minimal care. There are many different forms of ionantha air plants, and each have distinct features that differentiate them from each other.
Here you can see a few popular ionantha forms side by side for comparison:
The differentiating characteristics of these different ionantha forms is due to many factors, with their location of origin being one of the paramount differentiators.
T. ionantha mexican
Blushing T. ionantha guatemala in a simple terrarium
Other forms, like the popular but rare T. ionantha fuego air plants, are named for their primary characteristics. The ionantha fuego gets its name from its fire-y red color which comes out when these plants get plenty of good sunlight. These impressive ionantha air plants are prolific clumpers and clumps of these are prized for their striking color.
Tillandsia ionantha fuego clump
T. ionantha rubra is native to Central and South American and comes in 2 forms - soft and hard. The soft form tends to grow shorter and wider, while the hard form can grow in a more vertical shape due to its stiff leaves.
T. ionantha rubra
The T. ionantha scaposa is a favorite of ours for its tall, unique shape. It is native to the forests of Guatemala and likes less light and more moisture than some ionantha varieties.
T. ionantha scaposa in our greenhouse
The Tillandsia ionantha v. vanhyningii is a sought-after variety for its succulent, thick leaves which grow in a star-like pattern off a long "branch-like" body. This form is particularly striking when it produces pups or offsets, which cascade down the plant in a unique pattern unlike any other ionantha air plant.
Tillandsia ionantha v. vanhyningii with pups
Ionantha air plants are versatile, hardy, and fun little houseplants and their compact shape and size mean that they can be displayed in a variety of terrariums and holders. In general, these air plants prefer plenty of good indirect sunlight and moderate waterings - normally a weekly soak is recommended, but we do recommend that you consider your environment first and foremost when determining how much and how frequently to water your air plants.
Looking to add a variety of ionanthas to your air plant collection? We recommend the ionantha combo pack!