You might know Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) as the plant hanging from trees in tropical regions and used in all sorts of arts and crafts. But did you know this epiphytic Bromeliad also makes a great houseplant? Like other air plants it can be grown without a pot in any bright location you have to offer. The perfect option for those who aren’t lucky enough to live in a tropical climate!
Keep reading for everything you need to know about growing Spanish moss in your own home.
Tillandsia usneoides care
If you want to grow Spanish moss in your home, the best way to keep it alive and healthy is to mimic its natural environment.
Spanish moss is not actually a type of moss but an epiphytic Bromeliad also known as an air plant. It grows on trees in a non-parasitic manner, relying on raindrops and humid air as its natural water sources. In the home, this means you don’t need a pot to grow Spanish moss: just place the moss near a window that offers bright, indirect light. A relatively warm and humid location is ideal.
Tillandsia usneoides light, location & temperature
- Light. Because Spanish moss naturally grows in and under tree canopies, it isn’t used to being blasted with direct sunlight. Although it should be able to take some sun, especially in non-tropical areas, try to limit it to morning and evening.
- Location. Although you should probably be able to grow the hardy Spanish moss in any location in your home, it prefers a relatively humid spot like your kitchen or bathroom.
- Temperature. If grown indoors, temperature isn’t too much of an issue for this air plant. Room temp works fine, and it can handle much higher and lower as well. Even light frost won’t be fatal as long as you keep your Spanish moss dry! Do keep in mind that it will go dormant when exposed to low temperatures, which isn’t the prettiest thing to look at.
Tillandsia usneoides container
Your Spanish moss doesn’t need a pot to grow in, so you can go as crazy as you want with it.
This air plant can be hung from a simple hook, glued to wood or other surfaces, or even draped across another plant. It looks great attached to any hanging planters you already have and can really make a lovely centerpiece. Additionally, there are endless Tillandsia holders out there (like this one) that should work well. Just make sure your Spanish moss doesn’t form a dense ball, as fresh air needs to be able to reach all strands. Any parts that don’t get plenty of air circulation will eventually die off.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to water your Spanish moss regularly, so choose a container that allows you to easily remove the plant for watering or something that can handle being soaked.
Watering Tillandsia usneoides
So how do you water a plant that doesn’t grow in soil?
Well, you imitate a rain storm! The easiest way to keep your Spanish moss well-hydrated is to give it a quick soak when it’s gone completely dry. How often this will be depends on the humidity level in your home and the amount of sun it gets, but it’ll probably be once or twice a week. Use rainwater, dechlorinated tap water or even aquarium/pond water. You can quickly dip the plant in a bucket or pour the water on it from the top; the exact method doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that Bromeliads like Spanish moss don’t like to stay wet and are prone to rotting. This means that it’s a good idea to allow your Spanish moss to dry properly after every watering. Very gently shake off any excess liquid and leave the plant to dry for a bit before returning it to its container. It’s good to go once the leaves have gone back to their natural, silvery color.
Buying Tillandsia usneoides
If you’d like to grow your own Spanish moss, be sure to resist the temptation to run outside and pluck some off a tree. When grown outdoors this plant is called home by all sorts of nasty bugs, some of which can cause skin irritation.
You’re better off buying your Spanish moss from a nursery, garden center or plant store. If you’re having trouble finding it you can also try the terrarium section of your local pet store, as this plant is often used in terraria. Another easy option is to just buy it online: you can buy Spanish moss on Amazon here.
Is Tillandsia usneoides toxic to cats and dogs?
I couldn’t find any specific info on this, but Spanish moss is sometimes used as horse feed. I’d assume if it isn’t poisonous for horses it won’t do much damage to your cat or dog either. That being said, eating any plant might upset their tummy and result in vomiting. Those long strands are probably irresistible, especially to cats, so try to just place your Spanish moss out of their reach!
Spanish moss meant for arts and crafts might be treated with chemicals, so be sure to be careful with that.