Air Plant Species Spotlight: Ionantha Guatemala
The Tillandsia genus, commonly known as air plants, is made up of about 540 unique species, each with their own distinctive shapes and qualities. Even within a single species, there can be a number of different varieties. A great example is the popular species Tillandsia Ionantha.
There are several varieties of Ionantha, some of which are named for their colors or other properties, and some of which are named for the region they are grown in.
This brings us to our very first air plant species spotlight: the Ionantha Guatemala.
Origin & Environment
Most of the world’s air plants come from Central and South America. They can grow on trees in tropical rainforests or in slightly more dry, arid climates. The Ionantha Guatemala, as the name would indicate, comes from the central region of Guatemala. They are native to the tropical climate of that region, where they receive less direct sunlight, constant humidity, and frequent rainfall. Commercially, they are grown in a shaded, greenhouse-style setting.
Appearance & Care
Ionanthas are typically smaller plants with flat leaves and a slightly fuzzy texture. The Ionantha Guatemala is noteworthy for its especially wispy, hair-like, silver-green leaves.
Pro Tip: The bits of “fuzz” on the leaves of an air plant are actually called trichomes, and they can tell you a lot about the kind of care that a plant needs.
Trichomes, or the tiny white hairs on the surface of an air plant, are used by the plant to absorb water. Air plants grown in hotter, dryer regions will have a higher density of longer or thicker trichomes. This allows them to absorb as much water as they can get. Plants like the Ionantha Guatemala, grown in more tropical regions, will have finer and sparser trichomes, to keep them from absorbing too much water. This means that, while some air plants do better with just a light misting now and then, the Ionantha Guatemala prefers more frequent watering, or even the occasional soaking bath.
Forever a Favorite
The Ionantha Guatemala is a popular species for good reason. Its small size and hair-like appearance make it fun and easy to display, and a good plant to use for crafting purposes. It also blushes a beautiful, warm pink color before it blooms, and can stay that color for a long time. This plant is a favorite for small terrariums, driftwood gardens, and creative wire or ceramic displays. We especially love to use them in our Air Heads!
Air Plants come in so many interesting shapes, sizes, and colors, but a tried-and-true species like the Ionantha Guatemala is one that we always come back to.
If you are considering buying some air plants, but not sure where to begin, start small! We sell our air plants, not by species, but by size, doing our best to get every customer a variety to play with. This species is almost always included in our small and medium air plant assortments, as well as our variety pack. Choose the set that works best for you, discover some new plants, and stay crafty!
- Steven Hughes