Air Plant in Focus: Tillandsia Ionantha

Air Plant in Focus: Tillandsia Ionantha

The Ionanthas are a unique type of Tillandsia and probably one of the first air plants that you will encounter in your search for small plants. Although they are quite common, they are loved by everyone from those new to air plants to enthusiasts! Most enjoy their colorful blooms and also wait for their plants to produces clumps or clusters.

The Tillandsia Ionanthas are generally 1-3 inch tall plants that look like a miniature version of the top of a pineapple with several pointed leaves. Depending on availability, we offer large or extra large plants that can be up to 4 inches tall. They are prolific pup producers and like we mentioned above, create clumps if left to naturally multiply.

Ionanthas are found naturally in the Mexico, Central, and South America on tree branches or cliff faces. The variation that exists between the different Ionanthas is mainly due to elevation, climate, and conditions in their various native regions. Each has a coating a of trichomes so that they can absorb nutrients and water from the environment. This sometimes give them a frosted appearance.

If you would like to try one of these out, click the pictures to purchase from our site!

1. Tillandsia Ionantha Mexican

Height: 1-2 Inches

The hardiest of all of the Ionanthas. Ionantha Mexican produce brilliant red and orange blooms and they form into tight clusters when they start to pup. Even if you forget about them for a week or two, Ionantha Mexican almost always bounce back with a good soaking. They are stout, compact plants.

Tillandsia Ionantha Mexican Air Plants Small

2. Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra

Height: 1-2 Inches (XL up to 4 inches)

This Ionantha is perhaps the most graceful. Our Ionantha Rubra often sport very symmetrical rosettes with gracefully curving leaves. They blush shades of light pink and produce purple, crocus-like flowers. When not in bloom they are a nice watermelon-green. Often we have XL plants available, like pictured below, that are near blooming stage and ready to produce pups.

Tillandsia Ionantha Rubra Air Plants


3. Tillandsia Ionantha Scaposa

Height: 1-3 Inches

Scaposas are a nice mint green color. Their leafing structure is much more vertical than the other Ionanthas. We love using these in our wine cork magnets. These are from higher, cooler elevations and prefer less direct light.

Tillandsia Ionantha Scaposa 'Kolbii' Air Plants

4. Tillandsia Ionantha Guatemalan

Height: 1-3 Inches

The Guatemalans are the most common tillandsia available and they are generally a hardy species with more rigid, pointed leaves than the Ionantha Rubras or Ionantha Mexicans. If not in bloom they are a nice, frosty green. Here in Florida, our Ionantha Guatemala grow fastest in the heat and humidity of the summer.

Ionantha Guatemala Air Plant Plant


5. Tillandsia Ionantha Fuego

Height: About 1-2 Inches

"Fuego" means fire in Spanish. This Ionantha blushes bright red and its color can last for several weeks. Our Ionantha Fuego look great in teardrop terrariums and small displays. Our Fuegos are the most reliably red Ionantha, however they are occasionally sent all green.

Ionantha Fuego Tillandsia


  • Roxanne Pierce

    I love my new air plants but are they toxic to my exotic birds?

  • Diana Robillard

    I agree with Debby. I open up my package with a variety of Ionanthas and can’t figure out what I have. I have figured out that the scaposas start out looking way different before they open up. But a few closeup photos of all of them would really help. Thanks.

  • Debby S

    I appreciate the information about several forms of ionantha. Maybe you can add more pictures and/or links to each kind of ionantha on your sale pages.

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