Air Plants in a Bottlebrush Tree

There were a few things that I’d see when I came down to Florida as a snowbird that would have me staring and smiling.  Obviously the Monarch Butterflies around here are one, and I usually just stop and smile when I see them while walking around town.

One of the others would be the air plants.   I’m fascinated by these things, hanging from trees growing on seemingly nothing, just sitting there being green. 

When you drive south and get to South Carolina you begin to see Spanish Moss hanging from the trees.  Usually only in coastal areas, you will see more of it as you get further south.  Great grey green ropes of fuzzy and soft mats hanging from trees and dripping over the highways like icicles that sway in the breezes.  The link will tell you that it grows as far north as coastal Maryland and Virginia but I have never seen it that far up.  It means that it would also grow at the Jersey Shore, but it is doubtful I will ever be in a position to try, I’m too happy here in Wilton Manors and am setting down some deep roots.

One year my local plant store got some Spanish Moss that was live and sold it as an accent plant.  I was given some by a friend who knew how fascinated I was with it.  That year I had Spanish Moss growing in my Japanese Cut Leaf Maple Tree in the back yard, and the Robins stole most of it for nesting material.

In my front yard, I have a Bottlebrush Tree.  I also have quite a few clusters of Air Plants growing on it.  That picture above is the largest one that I have seen on that tree and is probably about a foot across.  If you’re reading this and are metric, take your shoe off and look at that thing on the end of your leg.

When I say growing on it, I mean that tree is encrusted with them.  These are the smaller variety,  they don’t get larger than the palm of your hand.  For some reason they really have taken a liking to that tree.   The bottlebrush tree I have has literally hundreds of these plants growing on it and I’m quite pleased with that.   In my long dog walks, if I see one knocked out of a tree, I’ll take it with me and tie it to my own tree with a bit of wire.  You can see that one of the plants was tied to this particular limb on the far right of the picture near the middle of the edge. 

When I was a snowbird, before I would make the drive back to Pennsylvania, I’d find one or two of these plants and take them with me.   One year I went so far as to grow one in a small greenhouse that I bought at Ikea and managed to keep it and a rope of Spanish Moss alive in my shower for over a year.  I would say the best place for these plants is on a tree, preferrably in my yard.

Now that I’m here, I’m propagating both.   Since they’re both from the same general botanical families, where one grows, I plant the other.   I found some Spanish Moss growing happily on my Bougainvillea behind my bedroom window so I tied a few small Tillandsia to it, and am watching them grow through the window.

Quite a pleasant way to wake up, looking out over natural beauty, I’d say!

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