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Tillandsia racinaea crispa ©

 by Penrith Goff, S.E.Michigan Bromeliad Society


Spectacular Tillandsias

  Rain Forest Splendor

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      What plants can be mounted? Because most bromeliads are epiphytic (they grow on tree branches) or saxicolous (grow on rock), or even on telephone wires (no big word for that), most of them can be mounted. Most popular for mounting are the tillandsias because of their fantastic form and texture, and becauset they are small and grow slowly, making them easy to manage and take care of. 

What can they be mounted on? 
They can be attached to anything. If they are mounted on wood, cork, bark, rock or other such surface which holds moisture, they will grow roots, enabling the plant to fasten itself to the substrate. A few example possibilities: branch or twig (grape and manzanita are popular), slab of wood, block of osmunda fiber, coconut shell, driftwood, cedar shingle, lava rock. 
Choose a mount which will not disintegrate under the conditions provided. A picturesque piece of wood, exposed to water once a week, can last for years. Outdoors, exposed to high humidity and extended periods of rain, it may last only a year or two.

How are they fastened? 
The plant may be attached with waterproof adhesives such as Liquid Nails or Goop, or silicone sealer, available in hardware and home builder stores. The plant needs to be held in place until the glue hardens. Liquid Nails and Goop harden fairly fast, silicone sealer takes a bit longer. A hot glue gun is fastest and quite safe if the plant is attached after the glue has cooled a few seconds. Sheet moss or spaghnum moss pressed around the plant and into the glue give the mount a more natural appearance and hold moisture, encouraging the plant to produce roots. Plants may be fastened with nylon monofilament (fishing line leader), which is nearly invisible. Strips of velcro or nylon stocking are excellent for temporary fastening (that is, until glue sets or roots form).

If the tillandsia has roots, the roots can be used to attach it to the substrate. Most of the roots are no longer alive but are tough and weather resistant. 
Do not attach the plant by leaves; the plant will become detached when the leaves die. If the plant has no roots it is better not to fasten it with adhesives; tie it or wire it. While it is best to mount the plant oriented more or less the way it was growing previously, it can be mounted any way you like; new pups will grow in the position natural to the plant.

When can they be mounted? 
Bromeliads can be mounted any time of year. 
Atmospheric tillandsias produce roots when the growing conditions are optimum: that is, warm, long days with high humidity. For us, that is the summer months. You can mount in the winter and the roots will begin growing when conditions are conducive. If the area around the base is damp but not wet most tillandsias will produce roots. Constant wetness at the base of the plant will cause rot. If the plant grows no roots, that’s perfectly okay. It doesn’t need them.

How are mounted plants watered and fertilized? 
Plants can be sprayed or misted every day but the easiest way to water is to plunge the plant—once a week--into a container of water (to which fertilizer at no more than ˝ strength may be added) and let it soak for an hour or so. When the plant is taken out of its bath, excess water should be shaken or drained off. Water trapped in the plant can cause rot. Tillandsias must dry completely between waterings. The plant cannot breathe through wet leaf surface.


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