The great love affair…
Being the tillandsia addict that I am, I basically scoop up any plant I see which I think I do not have. This is a particularly prudent approach given that tillandsias are pretty hard to come by here. So when I came across this rather miserable looking plant, I still bought it, simply because it looked like something I did not already own! I should add though that I did have a look at the centre of the plant and checked to see that there was new growth and that the plant was not already half dead. After all why would you pay good money for a dead plant? Well in this case it seemed to be recovering from whatever ill treatment it had received previously, because the new leaves were an even grey-silver and totally blemish free. Compared to the middle leaves which were shriveled and probably only about a third of the length of the older leaves at the base of the plant!
I am not too sure what could have caused the shrunken leaves other than absolutely less than ideal growing conditions but given it passed my closer inspection, I brought it home with me. I can’t say it was a particular favourite though because once I brought it home I wired it up as best as I could and just let it be. The wiring up was a pretty delicate process too, owing to the very stiff leaves and equally stiff wires I had at the time. It was not the most sturdy outcome but what the hey, it stayed up.
Not knowing the species, I took a guess at its’ preferred growing conditions and chucked it together with the rest of my plants in the morning sun area. Given the grey-ish colour and the stiff succulent leaves, I figured it would like sunshine. It seemed happy enough and there was a gradual improvement in its form and growth over the next 6 months.
I was happy to see it was growing well now, and with the new growth I tried to work out what it could possibly be. My first guess was T. xerographica, but a quick comparison against another xero I had of a similar size proved it to be dissimilar. A comparison pic is below, with the confirmed xero on the right. Do not be fooled by the picture though, because I realise they do look quite similar there, but I guess you can only really tell the difference from actually touching the plants, whereby the leaves of this NoID is far stiffer, channels slightly more and also does not have the tendency to curl at the tips that the xero has. But now as I am writing this post and going through these pictures, I do wonder if perhaps it is a xero, but possibly a slightly different form to the more common form you see around(?).
However in my mind, there are two things still which point to it not being a xero. Firstly, it does not root very much and as anyone who has a xero will tell you they are prolific rooters! In just a couple of months thick roots will abound from the base of the plant creating a real tangled mess. And as you can see from the pic below, this NoID has sent out a grand total of maybe three roots.
The second reason is that it has given off an offset / pup at the base of the plant. The pup is maybe 3-4 months old but it is still tiny and incredibly slow growing, probably no more than an inch or so. Regardless of its size though, pupping prior to flowering is again not really known of in xeros which therefore points to this plant being something else altogether. But quite frankly I am at a total loss as to what it may be.
Anyway without knowing the species, I erred on the side of caution and probably under-watered this plant. Side note: I now realise I probably under-water almost all my plants because I always see a huge difference after a rainy day when the plants just seem to look more vibrant, but I would recommend this as the safer approach as tills can recover easily from under-watering whereas over-watering is disaster inducing! However the two incredibly rainy months of September and October saw the NoID getting caught in the daily thunderstorms and it seemed to enjoy this greatly. I was rather worried it would end in rot because a lot of water does get trapped in the center but it has weathered the storms brilliantly. Ever since then, the leaves have been more widespread and open, and I worry far less about keeping it constantly dry.
By till standards this NoID is quite a fast grower and it is also fast gaining a spot on my favourites list. And it is for exactly this reason that I will be sticking to my policy of getting any till which I may not already have, because who knows, it just may turn out to be a real gem! Finally to the readers of this post, I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think this NoID could possibly be.
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