Ball Moss
Tillandsia recurvata

Family: Bromeliaceae (bro-mee-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tillandsia (til-LAND-see-uh) (Info)
Species: recurvata (rek-er-VAY-tuh) (Info)
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Epiphytes

Height:

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

Blue-Violet

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Foliage:

Grown for foliage

Other details:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama

Bostonia, California

Hayward, California

Bartow, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Boynton Beach, Florida

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Deltona, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Jupiter, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida (2 reports)

Pompano Beach, Florida

Sebring, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Laurel, Mississippi

Beaufort, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Hardeeville, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (2 reports)

Islandton, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Baytown, Texas

Copperas Cove, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Spring Branch, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

2
positives
4
neutrals
4
negatives
RatingContent
Negative

On Jun 3, 2012, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

I have two large oaks covered in this , I pray I do not have the same experience as htop and hope they do not start infesting my crepe myrtles .

Positive

On May 6, 2012, Mrjocrooms from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

I live in NE Fla. and this plant is ABUNDANT here. Oaks and crepe myrtles are apparently it's favorite but no tree is safe. Lol.
This plant is NOT parasitic. I have never heard of this plant killing a tree, shrub or even a branch. I have seen them grow very thickly though so shading out and killing plants seems plausible to me.
These are WONDERFUL indoor plants. Wash the leaves before you bring it inside as they often host many insects. Your options for displaying these are endless as they do not need to be planted in any soil/moss/gravel/water/etc. They make a beautiful wall hanging specimen, plant many into a wire orb for
a very unique hanging plant or you could even attach them to furniture, porch rails, fences, columns. The options are ENDLESS so be creative! I c... read more

Negative

On May 26, 2010, sugarlandgardner from Sugar Land, TX wrote:

Have been dealing with ball moss for over 5 years...have had professional spraying on 2 trees twice. They look better (has been a few years) but now the others are looking bad. Arborist told me that overpruning can cause this. So now I am letting the small branches grow back (trees were "canopied" by previous owner) and they are looking better. Ball moss has killed many trees in the area and people thinking they are just a flower and not killer are WRONG!! They are also invading have killed the crepe myrtles on my street. Need to go buy my personal cherry picker I guess!

Positive

On Jan 20, 2005, OleGeezer from Herrin, IL wrote:

Floridian, PolarBear and Mono have pretty much covered it. In Illinois it just barely appears, so it does not usually acheive the dense populations the others have issues with. Just one detail not mentioned is that Tillandsia recurvata is a nitrogen fixing plant, so if you do harvest it from your tree, use it for fertilizer.

Neutral

On Jan 20, 2005, cyroc from Upper Marlboro, MD wrote:

While backpacking in the Chisos Mts of Big Bend NP, we took an exploratory look up a side canyon. A wet overhanging cliff had hundreds of this unsual plants which I photographed for later identification. I can only conclude that Ball Moss is not just arboreal. Picture submitted..

Negative

On Feb 5, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
Those of us with oak trees that are covered with ball moss hate this plant. The fact that heavy infestations keep the sunlight from reaching the leaves, the leaves die and the branches that are covered die. The smaller branches break off constantly with the wind, rain (the moss becomes wet and heavy) and especially squirrels running and jumping on them. Many quite large branches have completely died by being smothered by the moss or because the limbs above are so heavily covered that the sunlight cannot reach the lower limbs. I will post a photo of dead limbs covered in the moss. Now it is spreading to my crepe myrtles and killing their limbs as well. To have my 3 oak trees sprayed to kill the moss, all of the dead limbs cut out and a lot of the ball moss picked off... read more

Neutral

On May 28, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

The accurate therm for this plant is "epiphytic" ("epi=on, "phytum" plant, a plant that lives on another plant). It only uses trees as a support, and doesnt leech anything from it at all, besides the dust and rotten leaves/bark on its surface. It causes no harm to the hosting tree at all, and theres no reason to eliminate this plant, or any kind of bromeliad from trees, unless its really taking the trees appearance down

Neutral

On Nov 17, 2002, MrPolarBear wrote:

While Ball Moss can technically be classified parasitic, it is only a structural parasite, meaning it needs to attach to a host, but draws no nutrients from that host. Ball Moss does NOT kill trees via starvation. While it may be considered unsightly, the only real detrimental effect it has upon trees is the possible retardation of new shoot growth dependent upon its proliferation. (Added weight & blocked sunlight to underbranches are additional minor considerations)

Negative

On Aug 10, 2002, PippiPat wrote:

Ball Moss can grow in drier areas. I have always heard it was a parisite. I do know it is invassive and can kill a tree. Prefers oaks. Is plentiful in San Antonio, Tx. and in hill country, and can be damaging. I am forturate it is not plentiful in this part of Tx., northeast of Bryan/College Station, Tx.

Neutral

On Sep 24, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Not a moss but a true flowering plant related to the pineapple. An epiphyte that gets its nutrients from the atmosphere.