The Pink Quill Plant, or Tillandsia cyanea, is one sweet little plant. This is all about Pink Quill Plant Care. Tillandsia cyanea, a Bromeliad which also grows an air plant, makes an easy & tough houseplant. A video guides you.
Although these are much smaller than the other commonly sold bromeliads, like the Aechmea that I showcased last week, the size of their flower makes up for that. It’s not only a very easy and tough houseplant, but it handles dry conditions like a champ. This is all about Pink Quill Plant care and the things you need to know to keep it keepin’ on.
In case you didn’t know, tillandsia is the genus for air plants. What makes this bromeliad so cool, along with its big bloom in relation to the size of the plant, is the fact that it’s sold as an air plant as well as in a pot. It does equally well growing either way and I’ve even seen it in large (2′) kissing ball form.
- Pink Quill Plant Care Tips
- Pink Quill Plant
- Tillandsia Cyanea Care
- How to Propagate Pink Quill
- The Fan Flower Main Pests or Disease Problems
- Suggested Tillandsia Cyanea Uses
- Tillandsia (Blue Flowered Torch / Pink Quill Plant)
- Tillandsia Care Guide
- Tillandsia Plant Problems
- Community Comments
- What is Tillandsia Cyanea (Pink Quill)?
- The Life Cycle of Pink Quill
- What Type of Soil to Use for Pink Quill?
- How Often Do You Water Pink Quill?
- When Does Pink Quill Bloom and Flower?
- How Do You Propagate Tillandsia Cyanea?
- Is Pink Quill Toxic to Animals?
- Indoor Plants
Pink Quill Plant Care Tips
Good, bright natural light is best for you Pink Quill Plant. An east or west exposure fits that bill. You want it in this light to bring on the flowering & keep the plant happy for the long run. Be sure to avoid any strong, direct sun as the plant will burn baby burn.
This 1 doesn’t need a lot. The best way to water yours is to spray it once or twice a week, depending on how dry your conditions are.
You can give the growing medium a good drink every 1-2 months, depending on the temperatures and the season. Like all houseplants, water less in the late fall/winter months. If your water is hard, then use purified or distilled water as this plant is susceptible to a build-up of minerals in some tap waters.
I usually don’t fertilize my bromeliads or air plants, maybe once a year if I feel they need it. In nature, this plant gets its moisture & nutrients through the foliage, not the soil. For this reason, it’s best to spray the fertilizer onto the foliage & the surface of the growing medium.
You can use an all-purpose orchid food diluted to 1/2 strength or this fertilizer formulated for air plants. You want to fertilizer in the spring &/or summer. Once or twice a year should do it.
Pink Quill Plants for sale – this gives you a better idea as to how they flower.
Warm or cool, the Pink Quill Plant isn’t too fussy. If you’re comfortable in your home, it’ll be too. 1 thing to note: they do like good air circulation.
The Pink Quill Plant, because it’s epiphytic like other bromeliads, needs to have excellent drainage. It’ll do well in either orchid bark or cymbidium mix. I’ve also used a mix of orchid bark & coco coir.
If you’re into or interested in kokedama, the Pink Quill Plant is well suited to this Japanese art of displaying plants.
Pups will form at the base of the mother plant, which will eventually die. This isn’t your fault, it’s just the natural cycle that bromeliads go through. You can either leave them attached to the mother (you can cut the dead foliage off) or remove the pups & plant them into another pot.
By the way, it takes at least 3 years for the pups to flower, maybe even longer.
After my Pink Quill Plant is through flowering & doing it’s thing indoors, I’m going to wrap it in moss & mount it on the cholla wood art piece with my other air plants.
Is Pink Quill Safe For Pets?
This 1 reportedly is non-toxic for both dogs & cats. However, some kitties like to chew on their crunchy leaves & although that might make them sick, it won’t poison them. If that’s the case, best to keep your Pink Quill Plant & your kitty away from each other.
Close up & personal with 1 of the flowers.
The pink quill, which is the inflorescence and not technically the flower, is the main draw for this plant.
The rich blue/purple flowers which appear off the sides of the quill are actually short lived. I’ve found they open no more than 2 at a time and only last a couple of days. The good news is that the quill can last for up to 4 months.
New to the world of bromeliads, then why not give the Pink Quill Plant a try? This tillandsia is so easy that it practically maintains itself!
Stay tuned because up next is the Guzmania, the bromeliad with the vibrant star-shaped flower.
If you’re looking for a little advice on houseplants and what they need, then be sure to check out our book Keep Your Houseplants Alive. It has no fluff, offers lots of easy to understand information and covers only the tried and true plants which do well indoors.
Happy gardening & thanks for stopping by,
Pink Quill Plant
Botanical Name: Tillandsia cyanea
Pink Quill is a member of the bromeliad family of air plants, and gets its name from the plume of bright pink bracts that last for months.
Arching, narrow green leaves grow in a rosette with flower spikes appearing in summer. Its pink bracts are densely overlapping, with violet-blue flowers emerging for a brief show. Putting your plant on a plant stand while it’s in bloom will give it all the attention it deserves.
Matching the bromeliad care in your home with that of their native rainforest habitat will keep them healthy.
Tillandsias are epiphytes in their native Ecuador and have small roots, mainly used for anchoring themselves on trees. Because the roots don’t drink up water, these tree-dwelling plants gather moisture and nutrients through their leaves. Misting Pink Quill plant with water and foliar fertilizer will make it feel right at home.
This is the only bromeliad from the Tillandsia genus that can be grown in a pot. It prefers a loose, fir bark mix, such as an orchid mix or one specially labeled for bromeliads.
Plants will bloom when they reach maturity, usually in 2-3 years. Like other bromeliads, they’ll bloom once then produce offsets. Propagating the offsets will allow you to enjoy a collection for many years.
Height: Newer dwarf cultivars only reach 10 in (25 cm) tall.
Light: Bright, indirect light
Water: Spray with water until leaves are thoroughly wet, 2-3 times a week. The water that runs off should be enough to wet the roots. Do not soak base of plant. Use rainwater or filtered tap water for misting your bromeliad. Soft water contains too much salt and some tap water contains chlorine and fluoride that can leave water spots on foliage.
Humidity: Moderate to high humidity. Brown tips on leaves are a result of dry air.
Temperature: Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C
Soil: Orchid mix or fine-grade fir bark. Don’t pack it down; keep the mix loose to allow air around the roots.
Fertilizer: Feed once a month in spring and summer with a foliar fertilizer spray specially made for Tillandsias.
Propagation: Remove offsets — called pups — that grow at the base of the plant when they are at least 3 in (7 cm) tall with a sharp knife and pot shallowly in fresh potting mix. They’ll take about 3-6 months to root.
- Houseplants A-Z
Tillandsia Cyanea is a low-maintenance, easy to cultivate house plant native to the rainforests of Ecuador, commonly called the fan flower or pink quill.
It belongs to the bromeliad family of flowering plants, most of which come from the South American region.
The common name, “the fan flower,” comes from the inflorescence the plant produces once in it’s life.
It’s also referred to as air plants since the bromeliads don’t need pots and can simply grow on a chunk of wood.
Tillandsia Cyanea Care
Size and Growth
The fan flower isn’t a very big plant. It will only achieve a spread of a couple of about 12″ – 16″ inches. The plant produces long, thin leaves forming a rosette.
The rosette slowly curves upward and outward. The funnel helps the plant collect a reservoir, allowing it to go longer without water.
Flowering and Fragrance
Tillandsia Cyanea produces a large, fan-shaped inflorescence covered in bright purple-blue flowers.
The flowers remain on the plant for a long time, lasting up to two months.
Unfortunately, the fan flower only blooms once. After the inflorescence dies, the plant starts to wither.
The inflorescence arrives after the plant matures, which normally takes about two to three years.
Light and Temperature
The fan flower is winter hardy in USDA zones 11 and above.
It requires temperatures of at least 59° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C) during the colder months.
For best results, keep it in a spot with temperatures between 65° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 24° C).
Ensure it gets as much light as possible, but shield it from direct afternoon sunlight.
The bright UV rays may scorch the leaves. In most homes, an east or west-facing window works best.
Watering and Feeding
Avoid watering the plant too frequently.
Remember the funnel shape of the rosette helps the plant store extra water.
When watering the plant, pour a slow trickle into the funnel of the leaves.
Regular misting also helps keep the plant healthy without providing too much water.
TIP: To avoid overwatering, simply mist the plant once or twice per week and entirely stop using a watering can.
When misting or watering the plant, use lukewarm water instead of room temperature water, as it holds more humidity.
These plants don’t typically need fertilizer, but a weak plant may benefit from the extra nutrients.
To help save a struggling plant, add plant food about once per month until healthy.
More on –> Bromeliad Watering
Soil and Transplanting
Due to the small root system, these plants don’t need large pots. The plant can even grow without a pot or soil.
People often fasten Tillandsia to other objects, such as branches or blocks of wood.
Glue or string can secure the plant in place. If using a pot and soil, add porous soil with peat moss.
Another option is to use orchid bark or a mixture of orchid bark and coco coir.
No matter the type of growing medium, it should offer good drainage.
When the plant needs to move to a new pot, repot in early spring.
Tillandsia Cyanea does not need grooming.
Related Reading on Tillandsia:
- Tillandsia ionantha
- Tillandsia xerographica
How to Propagate Pink Quill
Propagate with offsets growing near the base of the mother plant.
This is the best option for keeping the plant year after year, as the mother plant eventually dies after flowering.
To achieve healthy new plants, wait for the offsets to grow large and robust before cutting.
When the offsets are large enough, carefully cut them away from the mother plant.
When collecting offsets from potted plants, remove the mother plant from the pot.
Use caution to avoid damaging the base of the mother plant, unless it’s at the end of its life.
The Fan Flower Main Pests or Disease Problems
Tillandsia Cyanea isn’t toxic or invasive, but cats and other small pets may experience digestive distress after chewing on the leaves.
Other potential issues include too much water or too cool temperatures.
If the plant receives too much water, it may start to die off early.
Common signs of overwatering include leaves starting to droop or flowers starting to fall off the inflorescence.
To save the plant, stop watering, and move it to a sunny windowsill.
This may also save a plant suffering from low temperatures.
If the temperatures stay below 59° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C), the fan flower may start to die.
Keep it in a bright spot and keep an eye on it.
If the plant dies due to one of these issues, propagate the fan flower using the offsets.
Suggested Tillandsia Cyanea Uses
The beautiful fan flower adds character to any room when given ample sunlight.
Fasten the plant to a piece of cork or a mossy branch and mount it on a wall near a window.
Tillandsia (Blue Flowered Torch / Pink Quill Plant)
Tillandsia Care Guide
You need to avoid direct sunlight to prevent the leaves burning, but good indirect light is needed to quickly grow young plants to a flowering size. However if your plant is already in flower or you do not intend to keep your Pink Quill around after flowering has finished then less light is fine.
Your Pink Quill doesn’t need as much water as a typical houseplant but you should be looking to water whenever the soil dries out.
The majority of plants belonging to the Tillandsia genus such as the Air Plants don’t need much water, however the Pink Quill does need quite a bit more to do really well. They can be chlorine sensitive so if you are able, provide rain or bottled water instead of tap water.
It doesn’t need as much watering as a typical houseplant but you should be looking to water whenever the soil becomes dry. This may mean a good watering every couple of weeks, more in very hot weather and less in Winter. When in doubt its better to underwater than overwater these plants.
If humidity is low your Tillandsia will appreciate a misting of its leaves occasionally during warm months. It’s not overly important however in average room conditions, so if you choose not to mist your plant shouldn’t suffer any ill effects.
Two feeds a year at standard strength is plenty. Once in early Spring and again in late Summer. You can feed the soil directly like you would most houseplants, or put the solution into a mister and apply it to the leaves.
Most Bromeliads prefer warm conditions and you may have to provide a temperature for plants on the verge of flowering of around 24°C / 75°F to get that flowering bract to appear. But they’re not especially fussy about temperature once they are in flower or very young. Average room temperatures will be fine.
If you buy a Tillandsia already in flower there will be no need to repot at all. If you are growing on a young offset however, repot and upsize the pot each spring if the roots have filled the pot.
Don’t be concerned if this doesn’t happen as the roots of the Pink Quill plant are very basic and compact. It’s important there is at least a small amount of space for new roots to grow into and if there still is, don’t bother repotting. The potting mix you choose must be free draining i.e. standard potting compost mixed with a little grit or perlite will do the job perfectly well.
As the adult plant starts to end it’s flowering cycle, offsets will appear around the base. Once the flowering bract and the adult plant starts to decline you can either remove the offsets, trying to retain some of their roots, or leave things as they are.
If you do decide to remove the offsets, pot up into a small pot, providing good light and keep the soil moist. If you have left the offsets where they are growing, in time you will create a sort of “colony” with lots of Pink Quill plants growing close together. Just be sure there is space for them to be able to spread, if there isn’t repot into a wider pot.
Speed of Growth
Tillandsia is quite a small plant once fully grown, and seeing as it takes two to three years for a young offset to reach flowering size potential the plant does grow quite quickly for its size. Although in relative terms because the end size is quite petit they might not appear to grow very fast at all.
Height / Spread
Including the flowering bract the final height (of a mature plant) will be no more then 25cm / 10in and the spread 20cm / 8in. Clearly if you allow multiple offsets to grow in situ then the spread will be much wider after many years.
There are many blue, purple or pink flowers that appear on the sides of the flowering bract. The Pink Quill will only have one or two of its dainty flowers open at any one time and they are very short lived, perhaps only staying open for a few days at most.
Ultimately it’s the flowering bract which is the attraction to these plants, quill shaped and often bright pink, it waves around looking almost alien like and easily draws the eye. The flowering bract can last up to 6 months although the colours may fade somewhat over time to become green. It’s usual to buy these Tillandsia already at flowering stage, however if you are growing a young plant on, you can expect them to appear once it’s about three or four years old.
Are the Pink Quill Plants Poisonous?
Like most Bromeliads, the Pink Quill is not poisonous to people or pets such as cats and dogs.
Despite it’s tropical appearance this is quite a hardy and easy plant to care for so they make great gifts, especially for a writer friend (because of the Quill / pen link). However do be careful of very cheap “bargains” because the seller knows when the flowering bract starts to wane the main selling point is about to be lost, as the tough leaves by themselves are dull in comparison.
Tillandsia Plant Problems
Leaves have pale brown patches
Quite likely the leaves have been scorched by the sun. Move to a darker place and if the brown marks are very disfiguring you may wish to consider removing the effected leaves.
Flowers are dying before they actually open
Although the tiny flowers don’t add a great deal they do have an appeal, so if you are finding the buds aren’t opening then your problem is almost certainly caused by dry air. Increase the humidity by frequent misting (avoiding spraying the actual buds) or try some other tips and tricks.
Flowering bract has become green and the plant is dying
The tiny flowers pop out of the flowering bract over several months, after which the bract starts to die off. In time it will lose the bright pink and become green. Months later the main plant will also start to look poorly, although by this point offsets should be growing strongly. Basically what you have described is totally normal and not an indication you’ve done something wrong.
No flowers on my Pink Quill Plant
Your Tillandsia will only flower when it is old enough to do so. If things are good you should get a flowering stalk between 3 and 4 years. If it’s gone beyond this time the temperature may be too low – it’s recommended the temperature needs to be around 24°C / 75°F or a little above this to induce flowering.
After flowering plant death is to be expected. If it happens sooner than this, then the likely cause is overwatering. Whilst they do need water, they don’t require as much as the common houseplants you can buy. It’s always better to underwater your Pink Quill plant rather than overwater it.
About the Author
Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.
Also on Ourhouseplants.com
Credit for the Tillandsia photo in the “Flowers” section – Article / Gallery – Magnus Manske
Credit for the Tillandsia in the introduction section – Article / Gallery – Paula7K
Credit for the large group of Pink Quills – Article / Gallery – Cliff
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This exotic and amazing plant cheers up every interior with its expressive shape and bright color. Pink Quill is easy to take care of and with the minimal effort it will look happy and healthy.
What is Tillandsia Cyanea (Pink Quill)?
Although this exotic houseplant is now labeled under the name Wallisia cyanea, it is still widely recognized by its former name Tillandsia Cyanea or Pink Quill. It is a member of the Tillandsia genus which consists of more than 400 species and they all belong to the Bromeliads family. The most popular cultivated species is certainly the Pink Quill which can be easily purchased in supermarkets or nurseries.
This amazing flowering plant has quill-like, bright pink bracts and arching, leathery, narrow leaves which grow on a stemless rosette. The pink bracts are actually the inflorescence and not technically the flowers. When blooming season arrives, purple-blue flowers occur on the bracts. Pink Quill can grow up to 1.6 ft (0.5 m) but many new dwarf cultivars can grow only 10 in (25 cm) tall.
The native habitat of Pink Quill is Ecuador where the plant is found emerging from trees as an epiphyte.
Epiphyte plants are also called air plants and they all thrive upon another plants, like trees (or even a building!), but using them only as a physical support. They are not parasitic on supporting plants and they obtain nutrients and water vapor from the air.
Tillandsia Cyanea ‘Pink Quill’
Pink Quill is a perennial in its native tropical habitat, so you can grow it as a perennial only in temperate regions which have the similar conditions to those in its native areas. The recommended average room temperatures shouldn’t drop bellow 7°F (45°C) and they should remain constant and high. Any temperature drift can damage your Tillandsia.
This is really low-maintenance plant. You just have to put it in a medium-light place with a lot of morning sun and try not to expose the plant to afternoon heat. Use a proper soil for planting, make sure the plant has the appropriate level of humidity and the further care is quite routine and simple.
The Life Cycle of Pink Quill
Many of Bromeliads are monocarpic plants, so as the Pink Quill. That means that plant dies after it had reached maturity. The plant has fulfilled its purpose – it has flowered and has produced seeds.
But, before the plant dies, it usually produces one or more new offsets which will replace the mother plant.
When these pups grow enough to be safely separated from the mother plant and when they are able to thrive on their own, you can transplant them into another pot. Remove the offset carefully, use a clean, sharp knife if needed, and place it into a new pot filled with the soil suitable for Tillandsia.
Eventually, this new plant becomes mature, and then it produces bracts, flowers, and new pups, and the entire circle goes round again.
What Type of Soil to Use for Pink Quill?
Pink Quill is an air plant and doesn’t really need a soil. So, you’re wondering what type of soil you should use when you want to grow it in a pot or a container as a houseplant?
Here’s the solution. Use well-drained potting mix for cacti or orchid with a lot of perlite, humus, sand or orchid bark. The potting mix must be completely lime-free.
Air plants usually don’t require fertilizing cause they get needed nutrients from the air. But if you think your Pink Quill needs more food, you can use a fertilizer for air plants (available on the market), but keep in mind that you should apply the fertilizer on the foliage without pouring it in the soil. Fertilizing once or twice a year will be just fine.
How Often Do You Water Pink Quill?
Since epiphyte organisms use the air evaporation, you should spray the foliage rather than water the soil. Spray the foliage occasionally with filtered water cause Tillandsia plants don’t like chlorine.
The soil should always be a slightly moist, but there is really no need to water the soil every day if you mist the foliage regularly. If you notice brown tips on leaves that is probably the result of dry air. Sprinkle the foliage with water to prevent further damages.
‘Pink Quill’ in bloom
When Does Pink Quill Bloom and Flower?
Pink Quill will bloom once it’s reached maturity. When blooming time arrives, once green bracts become bright pink or even red. Bright violet-blue flowers with three petals occur on the edges of the pink bracts in spring or autumn, but they last very shortly, only for several days. These flowers are 5cm (2 in) big.
The bracts remain pink for many weeks after the flowers had faded. When flowers fade, you should remove them.
How Do You Propagate Tillandsia Cyanea?
As previously said, Pink Quill produces offsets which eventually reach maturity, so the easiest way of propagating Tillandsia Cyanea is to repot these tiny pups when they are big enough to continue developing on their own. You can repot them when they are 2.5-4 inches tall. Be patient cause the plant will need several months to establish the strong root system.
Plants of the Tillandsia genus can also be propagated by seeds. Find some moss and Thuja twigs, mix them together and form a bundle. Tie the bundle up with a wire or a string, and place the seeds into the bundle. Sprinkle it with water, let it hang in moderate-light place with a good air circulation, and mist it occasionally until seeds germinate.
Is Pink Quill Toxic to Animals?
Pink Quill looks extremely exotic so people often think it’s poisonous and toxic to animals and pets. But, don’t worry cause this is a pet-friendly plant. The plant is non-toxic for dogs and cats.
Although cats love to chew Pink Quill leaves occasionally, don’t be worry cause the plant can’t poison your cat, it will only make her feel a bit sick.
The genus Tillandsia belongs to the Bromeliad family and contains approx. 400 members of which the Pink Quill (Tillandsia cyanea) is the most commonly cultivated species. The native to Ecuador plant grows epiphytic (sitting on trees). Its purple flowers emerge from the pink to red colored bracts and can be produced for 1 to 3 months.
Tillandsia cyanea is commonly known as Pink Quill.
- Lighting: bright to partial shade with some morning or evening sun
- Soil: a regular cacti mix or potting soil with orchid bark
- Watering: allow to dry between the waterings
- Feeding: half diluted every 6 to 8 weeks
- Temperature: room temperature the year round with a winter minimum of 15 °C/59 °F
- Propagation: offsets
Lighting: Tillandsia cyanea does best if located bright but protected from afternoon sun. Some morning- and/or evening sun such as a light shaded place will be tolerated. Brown patches on the leaves may indicate that it got too much sun.
Soil: The soil should be well drained, a mix between potting soil and orchid bark (1:1) can be used. There are special mixes for bromeliads available.
Watering: The Pink Quill can be deep watered, what’s flowing out of the pot should be removed after a few minutes. Sitting in water can cause rotten roots. >Before watering next let the soil become moderately dry.
Feeding: A all-purpose houseplant fertilizer at half strenght can be given every 6 to 8 weeks in spring/summer. A half diluted orchid fertilizer is also suitable.
New bought or recently repotted plants don’t need to be fed for the first year.
Temperature: This Bromeliad can be cultivated at room temperature the year round and needs a winter minimum of 15 °C/59 °F.
Humidity: Spraying it over with water from time to time increases humidity only for a short time but keeps its leaves free of dust.
Pruning: The flower spike can be cutted off when it has dried. The old growth will not bloom again. After flowering Tillandsia cyanea is showing new offsets at its base. Those will maybe rebloom after some months.
Offsets can be removed when they are 7 to 10 cm (2.76-3.94 inches) tall. At a temperature range between 20-25 °C/68-77 °F it may take more than 3 months to show up roots.
Tillandsia cyanea at Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava (botanical garden) Tenerife.