Plants from the Bromeliad family naturally populate a huge area from the bottom of South America all the way to Florida and across the great South American Continent. As you can imagine, conditions these plants grow in range wildly from the very shores of the ocean where salt winds blow in from the sea to high altitude mountains with cold dry winds with sleet and night frost - from humid jungles to extremely arid deserts - from areas where the yearly temperature is stable within 5 -10 degrees to areas where the temperature variation is huge in a single day - in the case of Tillandsia Tectorum -15 to 45 degrees C - from areas where the sun is bright and very hot with no shade to areas of deep shade.
In short there is a Bromeliad that will grow in many areas of the planet, but it it is not necessarily so that all plants from this family can be grown in one location, and if they could, they would never reach there full potential. Some plants like Tillandsia Bergeri need a cool period to stimulate flowering, others need warmth. Also take into account that a plant that struggles and eventually dies in one area of a single small backyard garden may thrive less than 10m away where the conditions are very different. So when one reads information that a certain plant will or wont grow in a ceratin state or country it is a very rough guide. The acid test is to use the best information available, and try it yourself. I begin growing the plant in a sympathetic condition and gradually move it to a more extreme position. I often do this with pups from the original parent plant, that way I have a back up plant to fall back on. Most often the plants surprise me with the conditions they can tolerate. If the plant begins to suffer I move it again to another position.
What are the two main elements that derive a rotting Tillandsia? Over watering and lack of air circulation are the two main contributing factors that lead to a rotting Tillandsia. However, even without water, Tillandsia will inevitably rot due to insufficient air circulation although the process of over watering augments the effects of it.
It is becoming difficult to ignore the fact that these are the two crucial aspect of growing Tillandsia. How can one make sure there are sufficient airflow and sufficient breeze to keep the Tillandsia happy?
A general rule will be a slight breeze passing through the exterior of the leaves and towards you. A constant airflow will be sufficient.
The purpose of air circulation aids in the exchange of gases and the removal of harmful bacteria and virus away from the Tillandsia. Additionally, without sufficient air circulation, the Tillandsia dies a slow and painful death. The reason why air circulation is so crucial to the fundamental success of growing Tillandsia, is they live in high places in situ.
Hence, the constant airy condition is what they are asking for. So placement of Tillandsia indoor can be a challenging aspect, however, a good gauge is as close as possible to the outside.
Once Tillandsia have sufficient air circulation, the rotting process is diminish in a large scale, but overwatering comes into play. When you put it in an airy environment, the Tillandsia tend to dry up a tad quicker and that is also the reason why you water more often. Watering at night is a dangerous and risky methodology in gardening aspect. It remains true to CAM plants, whereby they absorb CO2 at night, and by watering them at night, robs away their chance to complete the CAM process. Like I’ve mentioned at the hort park talk that in theory it is not a good practice, however, I’m the one who goes along the grain with it. I water them at night for as long as I’ve remembered keeping Tillandsia.
The reason why I did this is due to certain circumstances, firstly, the air conditioning has a lower humidity and secondly, its cooler too. So what might those two factor contributes to me watering at night?
Reason being is simple, the low humidity quickly dries out the Tillandsia leaves giving them sufficient time to continue the process of absorbing CO2 at night. The second factor is that Tillandsia opens their stomata according to the temperature. A high noon time temperature forces the stomata to remain close for as long as the temperature remains high. Hence, with lower temperature, it improves the breathing process. Taken together, once the low humidity dries the surface of the Tillandsia leaves, the ambient low temperature quickly provides the stomata to open and continue the process.
So theoretically speaking, CAM plants do not like watering at night for long periods. However, I believe that given adequate low night time temperature and humidity, will give you even more flexibility in terms of watering timing. However, as like most perspective, having low night time temperature and humidity has its disadvantages too. One of them is that Tillandsia dries out quicker than you can provide water for them.
In other words, if you miss watering for 2-3 days, the effects of dehydration are clearly evident. Well we can’t win all can we?
Speaking of the two factors, air and water, both should be harmonising together learning that one depends on one another and not as a differentiated aspect. For this reason, it is conclusive that without air-circulation will certainly bring the demise of your Tillandsia, but without water, no living things will survive.