Is Ball Moss An Air Plant

Epiphytes are “air plants, such as moss, that rely on atmospheric moisture and nutrients to exist. Spanish moss, ball moss, and lichen are a few epiphytic plants that are widespread in Florida and the southeast of the United States. People who are unfamiliar with epiphytes occasionally worry that they could harm plants. Plants known as epiphytes thrive on other plants without harming their hosts. Epiphytes, often known as air plants, cling to the bark of its host plants to access sunlight or to avoid competition on the ground. Spanish moss, a member of the bromeliad family rather than a true moss, is the most prevalent epiphyte found in Florida.

Another myth about Spanish moss is that it contains a biting bug known as a redbug or chigger. These animals typically live in low, moist places with dense natural flora. Chiggers can be found in fallen moss and any plant matter on or near the ground, although they are less likely to be found in moss growing in trees that are above ground.

Spanish moss serves as cover for a variety of creatures, who seek it out for protection. In Spanish moss, numerous insects and other invertebrates hide and reproduce. Spanish moss garlands serve as daytime resting areas for two different kinds of bats. It is used at night for zebra longwing butterfly roosting. Moss strands are used by many different bird species to construct their nests.

Although epiphytes can grow on wires, fences, and other inanimate objects, they are best suited to moist, well-lit habitats that are frequently found close to rivers, ponds, and lakes. In places with a fair amount of humidity, epiphytes will also flourish.

Contrary to mistletoe, a plant parasite, epiphytes do cling to plants but do not harm them. Epiphytic plants have evolved the ability to consume minerals dissolved in water that flows across leaves and down branches since they lack soil as a source of nutrients.

PARASITES ARE NOT epiphytes. Keep them on your trees, please. They contribute significantly to the ecology and provide numerous ecological advantages, including as giving Florida’s wildlife access to food, water, and shelter. Spanish or ball moss infestations on trees are typically a symptom of other problems; the epiphytes are just taking advantage of the trees’ elevated positions, which provide them with the most sunlight.

How is an air moss ball plant cared for?

The supply of suitable care determines the success of plant care. Here is where the adage, “Knowledge is power, and it is put to use. All you can provide is the “you are aware of the appropriate care. You will learn more about how to care for Tillandsia Recurvata outside of its natural habitat in this section.


Please take note that unlike most plants, Tillandsia Recurvata absorbs water through the trichomes on its leaves rather than the roots. Tillandsia Recurvata should be watered by soaking the plant for around 10 minutes in a bowl of water.

Two times a week, repeat this. You can fill a spray bottle with water and sprinkle your plant in between soakings if your plant needs additional water during the warmer months.

In order to prevent rot and other fungal illnesses, it is crucial to let the plant dry out completely after watering. Therefore, after every watering operation, give the plant a gently shake to get rid of any extra water that may have accumulated.

Good Aeration

After watering, place the Tillandsia Recurvata plant in a location with sufficient air circulation so it can dry out entirely in four hours. Keep your Tillandsia Recurvata away from heaters and other sources of direct heat; doing so could harm the plant.

You must give your plant a 12-hour soak in a water bath if you plan to leave it alone for two weeks. Re-soak the ball moss air plant when you get back.

Please be aware that you can quench your plant’s hunger with spring, pond, filtered, rain, or tap water. Every time you use tap water, you should let it stand for a few days to let the chlorine in the water dissipate.


When Tillandsia Recurvata is exposed to direct, bright sunlight, it thrives. In particular, prolonged exposure to bright sunlight might result in burn marks that detract from the appearance of your plant.

Place your plant strategically adjacent to a window if you’re growing it indoors so that it may get natural light from the outside.

If not, you should provide it artificial fluorescent light, especially if you’re growing the Tillandsia Recurvata in a space that is enclosed and has limited sunlight access.

Outdoor Cultivation

If you choose to grow your ball moss air plant outdoors, be sure to give it some shade to protect it from the scorching rays of the summer afternoon sun.

If your Tillandsia Recurvata has been growing indoors and you wish to transplant it outside, you should gradually adapt the plant to the rising amounts of sunshine in the outside environment. Your plant could burn if you move it quickly from indoor light to outside sunlight.


When you decide to cultivate a Tillandsia Recurvata, it is normal to begin considering the sort of soil it requires. However, because it is an air plant, you can cultivate this plant without soil. Instead, attach the plant to sturdy surfaces devoid of moisture retention.

Temperature and Humidity

Since Tillandsia Recurvata is a hardy plant, keeping it in freezing temperatures is acceptable. On the other hand, Tillandsia Recurvata thrives in warm conditions between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. To safeguard it from the wintertime cold temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, we advise bringing your plant indoors.

In situations with moderate to high relative humidity, the little ball moss thrives. If there is sufficient ventilation, frequent spraying is a terrific idea because the plant will dry out quickly.


A little fertilizer can help the beauty flourish, so there is no harm in applying some. During the hotter summer months, you can add moderate amounts of fertilizer up to twice a month. Once a month of fertilizer application is sufficient for the plant during the winter.

Spray the leaves with the diluted liquid fertilizer. Keep in mind that Tillandsia Recurvata consumes food through its leaves.


Do you want to display your Tillandsia Recurvata in a unique way? There are numerous choices, some of which we shall examine below. One of the simplest but most interesting methods to showcase your plant is by mounting.

As bases for displaying your ball moss beauties, you can use driftwood, rocks, seashells, or anything else that won’t rot or develop a fungal infection.

To secure your Tillandsia Recurvata to the mounting object of your choosing, get a powerful plant adhesive. The plant can be safely fastened to the base using a wire as well.

Terrariums and Aeriums

Other excellent options for showcasing your ball moss air plant include terrariums and aeriums. Both of these are glass pots that can enhance your plant’s vintage appearance wherever you place it.

The primary distinction between the two is that the aerium is made to allow for more ventilation than the terrarium. Whether you choose to utilize terrariums or aeriums, you may enhance the presentation by placing stones, seashells, or moss within the glass container.

What is the benefit of ball moss?

J. W. Pieper, a good friend of mine, recently requested that I write a column on ball moss. At Honey Creek State Natural Area, J. W. usually offers nature walks. He believes that ball moss is the topic that his visitors are most perplexed about. On the branches of oaks and other trees and plants, this tiny “mossy plant” forms gray clumps.

Ball moss is typically thought of as a parasite that weakens the trees on which it grows. In addition, some individuals believe that severe ball moss infestations may weaken a tree since the leaves won’t receive enough light. However, the botanists I know believe there is no evidence to back up those anxieties, despite the fact that tree trimmers appear to be encouraging these beliefs.

Similar to many other bromeliads, orchids, ferns, and lichens, as well as many other plants, ball moss frequently grows as an epiphyte (non-parasitic plant living on other plants). Ball moss prefers this location’s shaded environment, namely the lower and interior limbs of living oak trees. Although ball moss fixes its fictitious roots into the tree’s bark, it receives no nourishment from it. It obtains water and nutrients from the atmosphere to sustain itself.

Ball moss-infested limbs may break off under the additional weight, particularly during rain or windstorms. Most of the time, these branches are dead or dying when they fall, which leads some people to believe that the ball moss destroyed the limbs. However, whether there is ball moss present or not, internal branches of live oaks frequently perish from a lack of sunlight.

Ball moss is not a parasite because it can thrive on fences, rocks, utility lines, and other non-plant substrates. However, other people believe that ball moss can harm trees in additional ways. My friend John Millsaps is one of them.

Ball moss grows in dense bunches on the lower branches of live oak trees that are dying from a lack of sunshine.

John is confident that ball moss can weaken and possibly kill trees because he has seen infestations of the moss in Texas persimmons and oak trees for a long time. Ball moss, he observes, fastens itself by wrapping tendrils around the stems and branches on which it grows. With time, the tendrils tighten their hold and lessen the host plant’s circulation. John also thinks that dense ball moss growths impede bud development.

Ball moss may or may not cause damage to the host bushes and trees, however this bromeliad does have certain advantages. One benefit is that ball moss captures atmospheric nitrogen and subsequently contributes it to the soil. Additionally, ball moss clumps are home to a variety of small birds’ food in the form of tiny bugs.

I once observed four Carolina wren fledglings leaving their nest, which is also related to birds. It was getting late, and I questioned whether they would make it through the night. The four of them, still together and concealed from the world, vanished into a sizable mass of ball moss on an oak limb just as the sun was setting.

Ball moss even has a marketable use. Ball moss was once sold by Steve Lowe, naturalist for Kendall County Park, to the Michigan Bulb Company in Ann Arbor for ten cents per clump. Many people in Texas would have paid to get rid of what others in Michigan were buying, but Steve didn’t indicate whether he made money on both sides of that transaction.

Healthy trees are probably not harmed by ball moss, however many people may find the trees ugly. However, what some people see unattractive about an oak tree may end up giving it charm. Ball moss strikes me as yet another fascinating local plant with a specific place in the environment. Even if the many tree trimmers who stop at our house shake their heads in astonishment, I’m sure some birds appreciate that attitude.

What is the lifespan of ball moss?

Three techniques can be used to develop ball moss control: plucking, trimming, or spraying. The most effective strategy to manage ball moss is occasionally a mix of these techniques.

  • Picking involves manually plucking ball moss off the tree, which is what it sounds like to do. It’s a time-consuming, tiresome job that can also be risky because getting up high to remove the moss may be required.
  • Pruning involves chopping and removing the tree’s dead inner limbs and/or selectively thinned the canopy. The majority of the ball moss typically grows on the dead, internal branches, therefore removing these removes most of the moss. Ball moss favors low light, therefore thinning allows the canopy to get more light, inhibiting further moss growth. Although ball moss is frequently found on oak trees, all pruning cuts should be painted to lower the danger of oak wilt.
  • As a final resort, spray. A foliar chemical spray is used in this process. Kocide 101 offers adequate restraint. Apply as directed by the manufacturer, at the prescribed rate. The ball moss will shrivel and die 5-7 days after being applied. However, it won’t fall off of the tree until there is enough wind to do so. As a result, it is advised to cut the dead wood first before spraying the foliage. In this manner, the majority of the ball moss will be eliminated, and you will simultaneously be caring for the tree.

Ball moss has a life indoors.

My plants thrive with a heavy misting twice or three times a day, don’t require any special temperatures, and grow indoors near an East-facing window. However, they can survive on MUCH LESS water. If you neglect to water it for a day or two, a week, or even a month, don’t worry about it! They recover without any issues!

In moss, can air plants survive?

They require strong lighting, particularly in northern areas. Put them in the room with the most natural light. However, they don’t require direct sunlight. The nicest rooms are those with windows facing south or east. A little bit of direct sunshine is acceptable, but stay away from the hot West or long periods in the sun. Because they are more humid than other rooms, light-filled bathrooms and kitchens are ideal locations for air plants.

Once each week, give your air plant a 15- to 20-minute soak while it is upside down. Make sure to soak every leaf. Shake the water out of the leaves after a bath, then place them somewhere where there is adequate airflow to dry.

The plant won’t dry out if you sprinkle the leaves a few times a week in addition to soaking them if the humidity in your home is low. When excessively dry, leaves will wrinkle or roll up.

Bromeliad fertilizer can be diluted and used to feed air plants (17-8-22). To the soaking or misting water, add the fertilizer.

Don’t surround an air plant with sphagnum moss. The moss might lead to decay because it retains too much moisture.

You may grow air plants outside. If the humidity level is low, they can require more frequent watering. Just prevent them from spending all day in the sun. The ideal lighting is indirect.

Although they are frequently used in terrariums, tillandsias don’t do well in those that are entirely enclosed or have excessive humidity. They are frequently positioned on a shelf or hung on a wall after being affixed (by glue or wire) to wood, stone, or cork.