Tilandsia stricta

“It’s lavender!” I exclaimed when I saw the three-petal minute flowers about 0.7 cm width of my Tillandsia stricta. It never occurred to me that the blossoms would look so dainty. I thought the tough peach things were the flowers, I realized they were just bracts.

It’s foliage has a rosette form. (See the photos. I featured the top photo in my post last June 23.) The leaves are grayish-green, needle-like, somewhat tough and leathery. What I loved about Tillandsia is that it doesn’t need soil to survive and fertilizer to flower. I attached it to a driftwood and placed it in an area where it could get sunlight and partial shade. Since it came to my garden during the wet season, I just watered it when necessary to avoid drowning

This air plant came to my garden via my friend Hermie. She found this at a garden show in Manila last June. The lady selling her this plant told her that it came from Brazil. After two months, I guess it had finally adjusted to my garden. I’m still observing its growth and habits though.



Tillandsia ionantha

I was so happy to see the blue flowers of my Tillandsia ionantha. When I featured this air plant in my driftwood composition (post last June 23), its leaves were just grayish-green (or a yummy color description would be green sprinkled with sugar-like coating). After barely two months clinging on that driftwood, some of the Tillandsia’s leaves turned red and two striking purplish-blue flowers bloomed.

This plant originally came from Mexico and some plant collectors brought this species into the Philippines.  I happened to acquire one specimen thru my friend Hermie (she found this in a garden show in Manila). Hermie told me that she winced when she saw the price tag; she couldn’t comprehend why such a tiny plant would cost that much than a Philodendron. Well, to me it was justly priced because it’s rare and I’m a collector of rare air plants.


Care Tips for growing African Violets outdoors

1 inch width double flowers

Back in 1970’s to 1980’s, I had an African-Violets fever. I would travel for almost half a day to Camp Phillips, Bukidnon to get specimens or cultivars of Geraniums, Anthuriums and African Violets. I would buy these plants from the private gardens of Mrs. Lopez, Mrs. Male and others.

heart-shaped leaves

However, all of my African Violets (Saintpaulia) from Bukidnon suffer under my care. Most of them wilted or rot despite the  care tips I got from books or fellow plant enthusiasts. I mean, the plants were not supposed to die because they’re easy to care. Fortunately, I was able save some leaves to propagate new plants, though. For tips on how to propagate African violets, see my article on Peperomias. 

purple buds

Presently, I have 2 rosette types of semi-miniature African Violets; one has double-petal purple flowers while the other produces single-petal blooms. From the leaf cuttings, I now have 7 potted young plant, two of which are currently in bloom (see the photos).

scalloped leaf blades

So far, these are some of the things I’ve learned in cultivating these herbaceous plants outdoors. First, plant them in a sandy-loam soil. Potting them is preferable than planting them on the ground; I’ve initially used black plastic bags on young plants.Second, place them in areas where they could get enough morning sunlight. Exposure to midday sun would scorch their leaves and dry them out. Also, aphids would infest on light-deprived African violets.

semi-miniature African Violets

Third, water them regularly except on rainy days; African violets like to grow on moist soil condition. Last, these plants require a dose of complete fertilizer once a month. Plants need food too to grow strong and healthy; skipping on nourishment would often end up with disease-prone plants. So far, these are some of the things I’ve learned in cultivating these herbaceous plants outdoors.


Miniature Pink Anthurium

This is the sole survivor of my miniature Anthuriums. And its small pink spathe with red/yellow spike bloomed last June 16. The last time I checked on it, the flower is still there.

Years ago, I’ve managed to collect five Anthurium plants of the small variety. They yield pink with red/yellow spike, white with red spike,white with red/yellow, lavender and red flowers. As miniatures, the maximum size of their spathe is under 3 inches and the stem length is about 3-7 inches long.

Like the regular varieties, my miniature Anthuriums like a shady spot and sufficient water in the morning. However, I’ve managed to kill four of them despite years of experience with planting Anthuriums. How? Well…for two reasons.

First, due to neglect. I’m preoccupied with my orchids and other favorite plant of the month that I failed to give the attention they needed. Neglect is always the primary way to kill a plant.

Second, their potting medium is wrong. Initially, I’ve potted these miniature plants with large chunks of coconut husks. It resulted with the death of the Anthurium with lavender flowers. So, I re-potted them using the black tree-fern as potting medium (commonly called anutong in Bisaya.) I regretted that decision when I discovered three of my four miniature plants died one after another. Again, I re-potted the last miniature Anthurium with sphagnum moss. It was a success for the plant thrive well.

Now, I know better what to do with my recently acquired miniature Anthurium plants.


The Air-Dwellers

What I liked about this epiphyte, Tillandsia funckiana, is it doesn’t need soil to survive. Its essentials are the following: (1) water and nutrients which are absorbed through the leaves, (2) sunlight, and (3) a driftwood for the plant roots to cling to.

I remembered that when I first saw this plant at a garden show in the mid 1990’s; a small offset had a price tag of P150.00 that time. It’s pricey for such a small plant. nevertheless, I bought one out of curiosity. Despite of my ignorance, the single offset multiplied and yielded bright orange flowers blooming at the tip of each stem.