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Sensitive nature among stories of plants, well-being and water

Tillandsia WALL for Nike Temporary installation “Tillandsia WALL” created by Michieli Floricoltura for Nike

by Paolo Michieli and Roberta Filippini | Le Tillandsia di Michieli Floricoltura
Vescovana (PD) |

“Nature! We are surrounded and embraced by her: powerless to separate ourselves from her, and powerless to penetrate beyond her. Without asking of warning, she receives us into the circuits of her dance, drifting onward with us herself, until we grow tired and drop from her arms”

There are currently more than 650 species of Tillandsia;  it is the most numerous genus of the bromeliad family, which in nature occupy a vast geographical area of Latin America.
In their natural state, they can be found in regions ranging from rainy tropical forests to some desert areas in the south, passing through the Andean highlands.
These plants have a great decorative value due to their beauty and great variety of shapes, their exceptional flowering and for being “intriguing” specimens.

Living in very different environments, in the course of evolution, they have taken on characters, shapes, colours, trichome density, blooms and very different water needs from each other. Almost all species have no need for a substrate (soil): to live and develop they absorb the nourishment and water they need through their leaves.

Their exotic colours fascinate thanks to the low maintenance they require, this becoming the main factor in virtuous green living projects between design, nature and sustainability.
Furthermore, the reduced need for water is combined with the various benefits they provide to humans: through their leaves Tillandsia absorb part of the VOCs (volatile organic compounds), improving the quality of the air and the environment in which they are placed.

The Tillandsia among small and large, temporary and permanent installations

For temporary installations, , irrigation is limited or almost non-existent: a fundamental aspect that joins an equally important factor, namely the possibility of reusing the same plants after dismantling, thus allowing a profound respect for the precious combination of Nature-Water.

In small or large settings, which find a place in everyday life, from the home to the workplace, irrigated by simple nebulisation, Tillandsia are the solution for many aesthetic and well-being needs, both as single elements and in composition.

Even in large permanent installations, thanks to the limited maintenance and the irrigation and LED lighting technology for plant growth, these plants meet the different needs that every space requires throughout the year.

Tillandsia in the garden

Some Tillandsia can also be placed in the garden. Thanks to their brightly coloured blooms, they become the protagonists of colourful compositions in symbiosis with the surrounding nature.
In this case maintenance is further reduced: taking advantage of the nocturnal humidity and possible rainfalls, they do not need any further manual irrigation.
Only in winter is it necessary to store them in sheltered locations (under a porch or a shed), to keep them dry during cold nights.

Tillandsia xerographica, the queen who is not afraid of drought

Among the many species of Tillandsia, xerographica is certainly one of the species with the least water needs.
A very special plant which, if kept in the light correctly, needs little watering.
In winter, in fact, it should not even be watered: thanks to its very slow metabolism, if it lacks natural light, the humidity absorbed from the environment through the leaves is sufficient.
Irrigation resumes at the end of February or in March, when the days are long enough and the light is better.