Tillandsia Spotlight: Tectorum Ecuador Air Plant
Tillandisa tectorum is a rare plant, native to the high mountains in the Andes in Ecuador and coastal deserts in Peru. These plants are lithophytes which means that they grow in or on rocks. These little plants get most of their water from moisture in low lying clouds in the high mountains.
The name “tectorum” comes from the Latin word tectorum which means “roofing.” In their native environment tectorum Ecuador plants are grown on the roofs of houses in the Andes. The Ecuador form of the tectorum is one of the more popular and widely known forms. Unlike many tillandsia species, the tectorum ecuador thrives in areas of low humidity and high sunlight. Their abundance of trichomes make them one of the most drought tolerant air plants.
Mature tectorums will produce reddish-purple bracts from which a tiny pale lavender blossom will bloom. In the wild, these flowers are often pollinated by hummingbirds. The tectorum ecuador can grow quite large, resembling a "fuzzy giant", a description often used for plants that have grown larger over time. While the Tectorum Ecuador is the more widely known variety, there are some other types of tectorum that can be found.
Once such variety is the tectorum caulescent form, which grows along a stem like many other caulescent tillandsia types. This type of tectorum will grow many pups along the base, and will make a very nice clump over time. Of course you can remove the pups once they reach the appropriate size, and expand your collection over time!
Because they have so many trichomes, they don’t need the weekly soaks that most air plants require. Instead, these fuzzy little guys like to be misted. Depending on their environment, they could be misted as frequently as weekly for hot climate and less than once a month for a less hot climate. They prefer bright, filtered natural sunlight and need good airflow to thrive!
Thank you, that was helpful. I own one tectorum. I placed it outside my western window next to T. Magnusiana and T. Argentea and mist them every morning. I can see that Tectorum’s older leaves are more on the green side and the trichoms there are reducing. This is the sign of overmisting, I suppose. On the other hand the tips of young leaves are somewhat dry. What misting routine am I to choose? The plants look pretty healthy though…
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