Garden Photo of the Day

Air Plant Addiction

A bromeliad collection keeps off the winter blues

In the terrarium: Paphiopedilum supersuk 'Eureka' AM/AOS x Raisin Pie 'Hsinying' x Sib (tropical slipper orchid), Phalaenopsis 'Jiaho's Pink Girl' (moth orchid), humble Cryptanthus (earth star) without long pedigree, and a whole bunch of tillandsias (air plants).

Chris Neumann shared these incredible photos of his tillandsia (aka: air plant) collection.

Winter lasts too long, and looking at plant catalogs just doesn’t satisfy the gardening urge, so a year ago I bought a big terrarium and started filling it with orchids, ferns, and tillandsias (air plants). At the time, my wife’s friend said (spoken with her Ukrainian accent), “It is a good hobby for a husband to have.” A year and way too many tillandsias to fit in the terrarium later, I ran across another quote. “Tillandsias are the crack cocaine of bromeliad collecting.” Luckily you can always find some place to put just one more!

On the baker’s rack: Tillandsia bulbosa, T. ionantha, and various succulents.


By the window: T. ‘Houston’


Just hanging around: T. streptophylla (aka: Shirley Temple)


Atop the bookcase left to right: T. chiapensis, T. ionantha, and T. juncea


More atop the bookcase left to right: T. andreana, T. baileyi, a large T. juncea, St. Francis, T. chiapensis, T. ionantha, and T. juncea


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View Comments


  1. user-7003263 02/27/2018

    Chris, I am not a succulent person, so it is a good thing that I live in the deep south and garden later, start earlier than most folks. However, your Tillandsia and the ways you have potted them is enticing. Very pretty, beautifully potted and artfully displayed. Thanks for sharing,

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      How deep south are you? Do you have Spanish moss growing in your area? If so, then you already have a native Tillandsia to garden with.

      1. user-7003263 02/27/2018

        We have Spanish moss growing along the coast, which is a different microclimate from mine. I am inland in the Piedmont area at the base of the Appalachian Mountains.

  2. Maggieat11 02/27/2018

    You have done an exceptional job in your displays!!

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      Thank you. We have a small collection of art pottery. Of course, they say not to put water in them so putting air plants in them is a great way to show both off!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/27/2018

    Hi, Chris, well, this morning it was your name that I put in the search bar right off the bat so I could revisit the whole Chris Neumann GPOD pictorial saga. It's always fun to walk down memory lane. It seems like you've included even more creative and artistic containers for the air plants and made them such a part of your interior what seems to be a wall sconce in picture #3. I didn't catch sight of Mr. Turtle in any of today's photos...hope all is well with him. Love the playful name and shape of 'Shirley Temple'...irresistible.

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      Mr. Turtle is alive and well, thanks for asking! We have collected small art pottery pieces for a number of years. When I started running out of space for the tillandsias I realized they would make the perfect pairing. The sconce with T. 'Houston' in it is from the 1920's and we think it is a Weller.

  4. flowerladydi 02/27/2018

    So fun Chris! And,,, SO cool looking! I just love your funky ' Shirley Temple ' and your pots,,, are so great as well, especially the first one with ' Houston ' in it! Yes,, a good hobby for a husband to have! -:) Beautiful Orchids!!

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018


  5. Chris_N 02/27/2018

    A full sized picture now opens in a new tab if you click on the photo. Thanks, Joseph and Fine Gardening for bringing that feature back.

    Photos of Tillandsias in flower, plus some with the dancing frogs will be posted in Facebook on the "Shared Garden Visions" group page. If you are on Facebook, just search for that page. It is a closed group but if you ask for an add , one of the friendly moderators will be glad to add you in.

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 02/27/2018

    Great collection, Chris. I am shocked and stunned that you know all of the names. I have so many Tillandsia and I think I know the names of two of them. That's a great Paphiopedilum, and like everyone so far, loving the pottery; especially the arts and crafts green one at the end. Ephraim faience? Grueby?

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      I don't know the names of all of them because some had no tags when I bought them. I started keeping track when I realized I was getting serious about them. As to the green pottery, I wish it were one of the ones you mentioned. It is of recent vintage from a firm called The Arts and Clay Company and obviously based on the art pottery of the early 1900's. The other smaller ones are Native American pots from the southwest and a couple Mata Ortiz from Mexico.

  7. cheryl_c 02/27/2018

    Dear Chris, if, indeed, "Tillandsias are the crack cocaine of bromeliad collecting", then surely your photos are the gateway drug to tillandsias! What wonderful displays you have - I especially love the geometry of Feb27_5, with the curve of the right hand plant accentuating the curve in the grain of the object behind it. Excellent~ thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      Thanks, Cheryl. Many Tillandsias are easy to grow as long as you give them enough light and water. The ones on the bookshelf don't get as much light as they would like so I generally swap them around with ones in the terrarium every week or so. The change keeps the plants healthy and the bookshelf display looking fresh.

  8. sheila_schultz 02/27/2018

    I can't tell you how happy seeing your growing collection made me this morning, Chris! I collected T's for years when we lived in Denver and they made me smile every single day. It was tough when I shipped them off to friends before we moved to Mexico, but I knew they would be appreciated!
    I love that you are now showcasing a few in your collection of gorgeous pots... perfect pairings! By the way, I have to admit to being head over heels in lust after your Shirley Temple... she's downright dreamy! Thanks Chris... you made me very happy today!

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      Hi Sheila! She is gorgeous. When I got Shirley, she looked much smaller and a bit sickly. Her leaves were coiled really tight. I read everything I could find about streptophyllas and their care. As I'm sure you know, the standard fix for over dry tillandsias is to soak them overnight. Everything I read said "do not soak streptophyllas! They will rot!" Then I ran across a scientific paper that looked at what it took to rehydrate streptophylla leaves. Streptophyllas live in dry tropical forest were half the year they are subject to torrential downpours and the other half to virtually no rain at all. So they really dry out in the wild. The researchers tried putting some in enclosures with high humidity, some they sprayed daily, and some were soaked overnight. Only the ones soaked overnight rehydrated fully. So not having access to tropical downpours, I soaked mine overnight and Voila! she uncoiled to be the beauty she is today! I still soak her every week but as she hangs nearly upside down (which is how they tend to grow in the wild), she drains completely which prevents rot.

      You are now in the land of tillandsias. Do you have any growing wild near where you live?

      1. sheila_schultz 02/28/2018

        Hey Chris... so far, the only place I have seen tillandsias is at the Vallarta Botanic Garden where they have an amazing display. There is a jungle garden N of us that I haven't toured yet, so there might be a possibility to see some there.
        I've been amazed at how difficult it is to purchase interesting plants here, even succulents are hard to find! I did purchase 3 small T's at the VBG, but that has been the extent of my finds. I guess it does keep my addiction under control, Woe is me! Haha!
        BTW, the study you mentioned was fascinating. Our conditions are very similar here, dry for 6 mo. and wet for 6 mo. On the off chance I can find a Streptophylla, I apparently can give it a perfect home!

  9. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 02/27/2018

    Great display, Chris. I especially like the wall sconce. Your terrarium must give you endless hours of pleasure to feed that gardening need in winter. What do you do with the plants in the summer? My daughter is a collector of Tillandsias on a very small scale and has given us some nice pots to display some in so you have inspired me to get them out and do just that.

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      Hi Linda! We love the terrarium and all the other tillandsias as well. Last year, my tillandsias stayed inside for the summer. I've read they grow faster and are more likely to flower if they spend the summer outside. I just bought two small mounted orchids for my terrarium and the grower said I should keep them outside in the summer as well. So I will have to come up with someway to mount them all outdoors and see what happens.

  10. btucker9675 02/27/2018

    Fabulous! I am going to go out and get "hooked"! I have a good collection of pottery, both antique and new and am now filled with ideas... thanks for these wonderful photos.

  11. Chris_N 02/27/2018

    Thanks! The good thing about gardening is that you never need feel bad if you get someone else hooked!

  12. User avater
    Vel Rhodes 02/27/2018

    Fantastic!!! I would spend sooo much time every single day just ogling these plants! Thanks for sharing! Have to admit, giggled out loud at your Ukrainian friend’s comment ?

    1. Chris_N 02/27/2018

      Thanks, Vel. The comment was meant to be serious but I laughed when my wife repeated it to me, too. It is true, though. Keeps me off the streets and home at night.

  13. LaurelEm 03/01/2018

    Very nice variety of air plants. So Wow!

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