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Strange Relations

February 8, 2012

'Still LIfe with Tillandsias"

The branch of the bromeliad family called Tillandsias, or air plants, intrigue on multiple levels: they  derive their nutrients from out of the air itself; as “epiphytes”, they’re non-parasitic plants that require no soil, only a host to provide support; their appearance can range from the interesting to the outright bizarre … and I love them for all that! Yet I fear them for many of the same reasons … Unrooted in soil, I feel like I literally cannot “get a handle” on them, what if they drift off?;  what if my environment — my very air — doesn’t possess what they need to survive?; what if I break them, they seem so delicate in their intricacy? I finally bought some at the LA Flower Mart recently and have been pondering where and how to live with them … I created the tableau above to showcase their unique beauty while I decide their ultimate perch, .

Reminiscent of both spiders and sea urchins, two tiny tillandsias rest atop rotund little pottery vases at the right; at far left a larger tillandsia gives a spiky shock of lime green from within a pinched pottery vessel; in the center, a much larger pale grey-green whirling dervish of a tillandsia spirals lazily out from a shapely vase. All pottery (and vintage linoleum samples) were purchased last weekend at the estate sale of a local architect … a weathered old wooden box from a garage sale serves as rustic backdrop.

Oh, by the way, I realize that tillandsias atop vases is probably the most earthbound presentation for them possible … a more acrobatic and ethereal display is forthcoming.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2012 5:52 pm

    That tableau is stunning.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 8, 2012 6:00 pm

      Thanks, Heather; and thanks for the comment.

  2. February 8, 2012 8:34 pm

    So love what you’ve done here but reading of your hesitation to use Tillandsia surprises me. I would have thought you’d already enthusiastically embraced their ability to be used in sculptural settings where plants in the soil aren’t possible.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 8, 2012 9:03 pm

      Well, one would think that air plants were my friend but they really do scare me … I’m going to try to work through it!

  3. Vickie Perez permalink
    February 9, 2012 5:35 am

    I do so agree about Tillandsias. Both the fear of doing them in and the love of the forms they come in. I’ve got some going that I got at UCR. So far so good. My Dad loves to tease me about them since the naming of them is some how tied into my family. Can’t remember just how right now. But I fell for them long before I was told of the connection.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 9, 2012 5:40 am

      Cool, Vickie … I could see you working them into something interesting, especially if you were unrestricted by the whole ‘soil thing’, think about it! I’d love to hear what the naming connection is with your family, too…

  4. February 9, 2012 7:19 am

    I can relate to you hesitation re: Tillandsias. It’s so dry and hot here, I always worry I won’t be able to keep up with the moisture needs. Same with orchids. I was given a Tillandsia like your large gray one a few months ago, and I run it under the tap once a month, or whenever I remember to, and it’s still kicking. Easy, right? Ask me about it come August.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 9, 2012 1:10 pm

      My point exactly!… Right now I’m afraid for the gray’s life because we keep having the heat on (we’re playing ping-pong with a cold or something again) and it’s soooooo dry inside the house. BTW: Where is your gray? Is it suspended? Attached to driftwood? Wha?

      • February 10, 2012 6:47 am

        Mine is sitting atop a pumpkin on the kitchen table. It’s not attached to anything at all. It gets so-so Eastern/Southern light from two sets of french doors and it seems to like it okay. I don’t really run the heater, but it’s a bit warmer here than it is there. I want to find a holder to hang it with, like the thigmatropes they have at Flora Grubb, but this is a big plant, and I don’t know if it’ll fit.

      • reubix1 permalink*
        February 10, 2012 1:39 pm

        On top of a pumpkin?! Love that! And going to google search thigmatropes right now …

        Okay, I’m back … do NOT spend all that money on the enterprising Ms. Grubb’s thingamajigs … I’ll have a large one made for you …

  5. February 9, 2012 4:34 pm

    Me too! So the Flower Mart is where we get over the fear and get them cheap (in case they die)?

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 9, 2012 4:57 pm

      Hey, Denise… they were cheap: the two smalls were $1.75, the lime green was $5 and the biggie was $15 … a splurge but it’s so cool looking, right? Plus, the tillandsia vendor has tons of natural objets and materials, most not that cheap, but that would make awesome tethers for these plants… I may have to see if they’d let me photograph some of their items for a post, although they wouldn’t allow me to once before…

  6. February 11, 2012 4:48 am

    I don’t know what it is about pumpkins, I always seem to have a few sitting around the house. I should stop being lazy and cook them before they spoil!
    The thigmatropes are kind of expensive, aren’t they? I’ve spent more money on stupider things, though, so I can’t knock Flora for trying.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 11, 2012 4:59 am

      I love a good pumpkin, too, but I know what you mean about not cooking them. They seem like a lot of work and I usually let them collapse in on themselves in rot rather then cook ’em… I love La Grubb’s stuff but can’t bring myself to pay for the look; in any case lemme know if you want me to pursue my low-cost option … I know a welder in search of a project.

      • February 11, 2012 6:27 am

        Yes, please re: the low cost option. Let me know what you need from me to make it happen.

      • reubix1 permalink*
        February 11, 2012 6:38 am

        I’m on it…

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