The Tillandsia ionantha vanhyningii is a rare sought-after variety of the popular ionantha variety. Its succulent, thick green leaves grow in a star-like pattern off a long "branch-like" body, which in the air plant world this is known as being caulescent.
The ionantha vanhyningii was first found by botanist Mulford B. Foster, who discovered many of the varieties of bromeliads and tillandsia that we know and love today. He collected the ionantha vanhyningii in Mexico, where he discovered it clinging to limestone rock faces on the banks of the Grijalva River in the Mexican state of Chiapas in April of 1957. With him was his friend, O. Van Hyning, an avid collector of bromeliads and tillandsias, who then had the great honor of having this unusual plant named after him.
The T.vanhyningii has green leaves that often have reddish coloring at the tips and an abundance of trichomes that give it a frosted appearance, and when in bloom its bright green leaves will blush peach. As with most of the ionantha varieties, it blooms stunning delicate purple blooms.
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. You can either leave these to clump, which can grow into quite the impressive mat like specimen, or you gently pull the pups away from the mother plant so you can grow even more vanhyningii plants!
Fast Fact: Mulford B. Foster, the botanist who discovered the vanhyningii, also popularized the use of the term of “pups” for naming the offshoots of bromeliads and tillandsias.
The ionantha vanhyningii does well in full sun and does not need as much water as other air plants due to its trichomes, but it is recommended to water at least once a week.