Recommended methods for propagation of Giant Ball Moss? (Bromeliaceae, Tillandsia baileyi rose ex small)
Mr. Smarty Plants usually gets questions from people wanting to get rid of Ball Moss, so this caught him a little by surprise. Of course we are dealing with the less spectacular Tillandsia recurvata (small ballmoss) here in Central Texas. The Giant Ball Moss Tillandsia baileyi (reflexed airplant) is found in the southern tip of the state, and can grow up to 17" across. The Ball Moss as you probably know is not a true moss, but is a flowering plant in the pineapple family, Bromeliaceae.
Since it is a flowering plant, it produces seeds, and planting seeds is one method of propagation you may try. Many people prefer to start with pups. These are offshoots produced at the base of the plant following flowering. A third possibility is to break the clumps into smaller pieces.
I sent a note to Sean Watson, the Nursery Manager, here at the Wildflower Center asking about his experience with the giant Ball Moss, and I've included his response below.
"We received some rescues form South TX (mature plants). I have not grown this species from seed, but it can be done. We have some of our specimens outside hanging in trees on a piece of drift wood, and the rest I have in the greenhouse under mist. The ones in the greenhouse seem to be doing the best. Of course, they are in a constantly humid and frost free environment. I have yet to grow this species from seed (no demand for it, like you said).
You can sow the seeds on a piece of wood covered in moist sphagnum moss and either tie the moss to the wood with raffia or pantyhose (some sow seed and then wrap the whole piece of wood in pantyhose and cut away the areas where the bromeliads germinate, more work to me though). Spread the seed along the moss, it should stick readily. You can even sow the seeds in a container with well draining sterile soil mix and have success. Keep in humid place (such as a misting bench). Hope that helps!"
I have also included three links that have information that may be helpful.
Student wants pointers to increase germination rate of Salvia farinacea in Lubbock, Texas October 06, 2010 - I am a student at Texas Tech, studying environmental horticulture. I have been doing research on Salvia farinacea as well as a number of other natives. I've just been assigned a project to increase t... view the full question and answer
Compact possumhaw holly for Plano TX April 19, 2010 - What variety of possumhaw holly would be best planted close to a house? I'm looking for a variety 15-25 feet, as compact as possible. Any suggestions? view the full question and answer
Transplanting trilliums in dormancy in Michigan February 15, 2006 - I live in Michigan. I have a Trillium in my yard and we are having a new septic field put in. I need to know if I can save the whole plant and can I keep it in the house or do I just need the bulb a... view the full question and answer
Germination of bluebonnet seeds in Hempstead, TX April 01, 2008 - We scattered 20 lbs of bluebonnet seeds on our property near Hempstead. Only about 10 plants have come up even though on another part of the property we have thousands. It is well drained and in sun.... view the full question and answer
Native bulbs for the northeastern U. S. November 23, 2007 - What native bulbs could we plant in the Northeast? Can they only be planted in the fall as Dutch bulbs are? view the full question and answer