My Garden is slowly settling to its permanent position where I'm going to maintain what I have currently.
The best idea in keeping a successful garden is keeping those plants that does well in your garden space.
Few of my facebook friends where asking me for the tips of growing & maintaining Spanish Moss. (Tillandsia Usneoides) Hope my tips here give some success rate for those who are still having them.
Tips listed here are not arranged according to their importance in the numeric order. I think all of these factor are important.
Do not expose the plant in Direct Sunlight.
They are shade lovers. In their natural environment - you will find them growing on trees with with fogs around them. Likewise if you are having them in a hot tropical garden the best ideal environment for them is of a shaded place.
Semi-light / partial morning or evening sunlight is OK but if it directly getting the hit from the noon sunlight - the whole plant is going to turn into crisp.
The plant must be hanged in such a manner that it is totally straight from top to bottom.
I know it sound crazy.
I have noticed that when this plant is tangled up here & there but not in a proportion where its aligned directly top to bottom situation - that portion tend to wither, rot or dry up.
It must be such a way that when you water the plant - water droplets must able to cascade gracefully as in layers without any difficultly. The total vertical position must be in aligned in a way that when the wind blows upon it - it must "dance" gracefully. If possible - position the plant where it can get the best air movement.
a) Do not place it against a wall or near a column (etc.)
The heat from the nearest wall or column may get transferred to the plant making the plant to dry-up.
b) Don't share or put this plant with another.
Spanish Moss don't seemed to be receptive with another plant growing together with it. I had placed an orchid plant together with this and later found that there was a huge dried up patch at the place where I had positioned my small orchid plant.
My point - Keep your Spanish Moss exclusive.
You can tie-up something at the way top of the plant - but make sure that nothing disturbs it -especially during watering time.
It also mean - Don't put chime or hanging shells together with them.
c) Do not move your plant around here & there.
Find a nice permanent place and keep it there. My mom started moving this plant up & down. She re-locate them when it rains (hanging it by the gate) and then re-locate them back to a fence but rain water doesn't get there (its original place). For sometime the plant tolerated it but it had eventually died.
i) The plant was not directly positioned top to bottom
(it was tilted - some parts are up, some parts are tangled here & there)
ii) The plant suffered shock as it got moved around.
Spanish Moss are not hardy plant (not in the tropical). They need to be stay put in a permanent location but with good air movement. (Not to be re-positioned frequently)
The life & death of this plant is very much based on your watering regiment. Few tips here:
a) Do not use direct tap water (chlorinated water) This will burn your plant. It is OK to use filtered water - The best I had found that works marvellously is rain water. I use to collect them in a bucket and sort of bath them. I pour the water from the top and let the water cascade down & recollected back into the bucket and continue to do so until the plant is saturated with water.
You will know this when the colour of the Spanish Moss turn green.
b) Spraying water from a water spray is OK but that is not enough. A lot of people fail to water the plant strongly - they need heavy watering. At least once a day. I usually spray my water hose on them (filtered water) from top to bottom until they whole thing is soaking - dripping wet.
It must be wet enough that the plant can last at least about 20-30 minutes of staying wet. (That is what I mean by strong watering.)
c) Never - Never water Spanish Moss when it is still wet.
Only water them when they are totally dry. I water my Spanish Moss about 5 - 6 times in a day during weekend on a hot & windy day. This I do when the Spanish Moss is totally dry after the first watering. You will notice that the plant shines in the silver green.
The plant will start to rot & wither when you water continuously without letting the plant dry-up.
a) I don't feed my Spanish Moss. I don't believe in any of those fertiliser sold. The really good ones are expensive. If you really want to use them - use them very sparingly - like once in a month (spray lightly) those which are used for orchids - liquid fertiliser.
I would recommend using washed rice water. I use them once a month. Well diluted (1 portion washed rice water with 5 portion water) - This is because I need to water my whole collection of Spanish Moss.
Some gardeners suggest of using fish washed water - I prefer not as it would attract ants.
b) Don't use strong chemical fertiliser that comes in a package where you use a small portion of it & mix with water. (the powdered type) IF you accidentally increase the dosage - even a small portion - the whole plant will die on you within days.
Now this is the tricky part. You need to have more Spanish Moss if you want to have them in your garden. Spanish Moss does not live forever. The older plant does eventually mature & die but they give out shoots that replaces the old plant.
A lot of people I know who bought this plant makes a mistake without realising it. When the plant starts to dry up from the top - they clip the new plant and place it on the top. This is a NO-NO.
I'm not sure of this but I suspect that the dried portion is contagious that in will infect the healthy ones to get matured faster and retards new growth. It will also causes shedding of the small bunches which you will find fallen off from the main vine. Before you know it - its looks so damaged that you are not sure what to keep and what to throw and the whole thing is so disproportioned.
Its best to cut and place the new fronds to a new rolled wire and propagate from there. Leave the parent plant to produce its new fronds and continue to cut and place them separately to its new home. Layer the new fronds in such a way that there is enough space that they are not crowded nor thinly spaced.
The spacing is such that when you water - the water can still hold and slowly cascade gracefully. To lightly spaced and the water will just descend down without any retention. To heavy and the plant will suffocate and the those which are inside will tend to dry up.
a) Pieces of Fallen Spanish Moss.
You will find small bundles of Spanish Moss fallen from the hanger. They are way to small and may not long enough for you to lay them to the wire. What I suggest is collect as many as you can within the few weeks. Keep them watered and dried occasionally (I know its easier than said - they can last even for few weeks if you ignore the watering.)
Tie them up with a fine string - you can tie them together from a leaf spike or you can tie from the centre of the plant. Tie each of them - one after another in a long string and you can put them back on the wire.
(why waste those) They will eventually grow from there.
b) Hanging Wire :My style of Wiring
Make a circle first. Then bend the circle into half (like a half moon, smiling face) Fasten two wires from the corners at both tips.You will have 2 layers - front & back to layer the new Spanish Moss fronds on it.
Later, as the plant matures (about 6 months time) - they will intertwine into a carpet like mesh. The good part about it is that - the plant had learn to adapt itself in retaining the water on it. You will find new fronds coming out from this mesh and also from the bottom.
Treat this as a parent plant - the new fronds are to be transferred to a new hanging wire. This is your second set of Spanish Moss. Keep your Spanish Moss together in close approximately - they create their own micro-climate of their own together. Note: The older ones had dried up (they form the mesh) & you will also find small bundles of Spanish Moss springing from this mesh - some grows into new fronds & some falls off to the ground.
Hope this tips & suggestions will give you success growth with your Spanish Moss.
This is my years of experience with them.
Click below to see my humble beginnings.
Link: Spanish Moss 2009
Ask me any questions you would like to know on my comment box. I will try my best to answer them based on my experience.
Even after you start doing this, you might not see any results - Be patient.
The plant may had gone through a lot of shock and will take time to recover but once it recovers - the growth rate is very fast and you are able to replace the lost one and it will multiply in a huge fast rate. I had given so many Spanish Moss to so many people that I can safely say that I had given 50% of my collection to others.
For those who are still struggling and not sure what to do - Hope these tips may shed some light on what not to do (more than often if you get this part right - the battle is half won) Good Luck!
A nice collection of Bleeding Heart Vine, Oncidium Orchid & Spanish Moss at the background.
These are the moments where I spend time with nature, where in essence I find & seek God in my quiet time, and along the way came this chronicles of my tropical container garden.
Please feel free to comment your thoughts and share your experiences, even a simple note is very much appreciated. Thank you and Enjoy !!