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Products > Hechtia tillandsioides
Hechtia tillandsioides - Grassy Hechtia
Image of Hechtia tillandsioides
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Bromeliaceae (Bromeliads)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Purple
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Bakerantha tillandsioides]
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Hechtia tillandsioides (Grassy Hechtia ) - An attractive and interesting grasslike terrestrial bromeliad with clusters of 2 foot wide by 1-foot-tall open rosettes of many 10- to 14-inch-long narrow light olive green semi-succulent leaves that are channeled above and recurve downward. The upper surface of the leaves are covered in fine whitish hairs when newly emerging but become glabrous with age, while the undersides remain covered in soft wooly hairs, giving the plant an attractive bicolored look, but overall looking a bit like a gray colored grass. Older plants throw off a 2- to 3-foot-long inflorescence in early spring bearing attractive small violet-pink to purple flowers.

Plant in full coastal sun to light shade in a well-drained soil and irrigate regularly to occasionally. Has proven hardy in gardens experiencing short duration temperatures down to the high 20's F, but ultimate hardiness in not known by us. This is an attractive grassy looking landscape plant but perhaps the most unique aspect of this plant is that it is one of the few Hechtia species that is not wickedly dangerous with sharp teeth along the leaf margins and in fact this species can easily be worked with and even stroked - we call it the only friendly Hechtia!

Hechtia tillandsioides has very confusing origins. It was first described as Bakeria tillandsioides by Eduuard Francois Andre in 1889 with a possible reference of it coming from Brasil. This name for the genus however had previously been used to describe unrelated plants in both the aralia (Araliaceae) and rose (Rosaceae) families, which prompted Smithsonian botanist Lyman Smith to rename it Bakerantha tillandsioides in 1934, but later in 1951 he renamed it Hechtia tillandsioides in Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 29(10). Early on the species was listed as probably native to mountainous areas in southeastern parts of Mexico but it is now thought to occupy steep vertical walls along rivers from 2,500 to 2,800 feet in tropical dry forests in the Sierra Madre Oriental biogeographical region, near the border with Vera Cruz in the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Puebla, and Querétaro. In 2018 this plant was proposed to be transferred back into the genus Bakerantha in an article in Harvard Papers in Botany (23(2): 301-312) titled "The reestablishment of Bakerantha and a new genus in Hechtioideae (Bromeliaceae) in Megamexico, Mesoamerantha by Ramirez-Morillo, Romero-Soler, Carnevali, Pinzon, Raigoza et al, noting that "monophyly of this clade is also well supported by molecular features, along with a fairly circumscribed biogeographical distribution."

There are also several other very similar species in what was once called the Hechtia tillandsioides complex, including Hechtia (now Bakerantha) caerulea that has in the past been included with Hechtia tillandsioides that has purple flowers that seem to match those we have seen in cultivation (such as the one we show on our 2nd image). Our plants came to us from University of California Riverside horticulturist Don Merhaut who notes this plant to be "underrated and under used!" We also have a form that came to us from the late Bill Baker at California Gardens Nursery that has leaves that on the upper surface are more of an apple green. We continue to list our plant as Hechtia tillandsioides as it is what we received it as and until such time that these name changes get more widely recognized. 

This information about Hechtia tillandsioides displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.