Nicknamed the Shirley Temple due to its curling leaves, the Tillandsia streptophylla is a stunning xeric air plant. Native to Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies, it thrives in low humidity areas due to its abundance of trichomes. Learn the difference between xeric and mesic plants in our blog post " Xeric vs Mesic Air Plants."
The T. streptophylla has soft pastel green leaves and is quite fuzzy due to the dusting of trichomes along its leaves. The word “streptophylla” means “with twisted leaves.” The drier the conditions are, the more curly this plant will be, and its leaves will curl into tight ringlets (like Shirley Temple’s iconic hair)
An interesing hybrid of the streptophylla is the T. Eric Knobloch, which is a hybrid between the T. streptophylla and the T. brachycaulos.
Tillandsia streptophylla x brachycaulos hybrid (T.Eric Knobloch)
When beginning to bloom, the T. streptophylla will blush reddish pink and will emit a gorgeous light pink inflorescence with white buds that are frosted with trichomes. These white buds will bloom purple flowers. If kept outside, these flower bracts will attract hummingbirds!
T. streptophylla plants in spike!
Due to the fact that these plants are xeric species, they prefer more sun and less frequent waterings than many air plant varieties. We recommend dunking or misting the T. streptophylla instead of soaking as water can get trapped in its pseudobulb (meaning that its bulbous base is hollow) and cause the plant to rot. Always shake out any excess water when watering any air plant. After blooming, these plants will use their remaining energy to produce offsets or pups. The photo below shows a pup that was taken off of a mother T. streptophylla plant.
T. streptophylla pup!