The Tillandsia balbisiana is native to Mexico, Central America, Venezuela, Colombia, the West Indies, and Florida. You can find it growing in trees in the swamp areas here in Florida where Air Plant Design Studio is located, but it is considered a threatened species due to habitat destruction.
Commonly known as the northern needleleaf, this air plant is similar to the T. bulbosa or T. pseudobaileyi varieties in that it has a bulbous base with leaves extending outwards. The T. balbisiana is bright green, and will turn yellowish green in bright light.
The T. balbisiana can grow to be quite large, sometimes reaching heights of 24 inches! When in bloom, the T. balbisiana has a long inflorescence that can be up to 7 inches long with reddish yellow flower bracts (buds). It blooms purple blooms from these bracts.
While these plants can withstand some full sun, it is recommended that they receive filtered sunlight and waterings at least once a week. As with any bulbous plant, shake out any excess water from the bottommost leaves, as water trapped in its bulbous base can cause the plant to rot.
To display the T. balbisiana, you can mount it to a piece of cork wood, or hang them so that the leaves cascade downwards. They also would look quite nice in a tall vase, or terrarium.