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Caring For My Tillandsia Cyanea

You might remember a post from a few months ago called “Terrific Tillandsias” .   Now I’m going to show you a Tillandsia which is so easy to care for that can actually grow in soil.  Tillandsia cyanea, or Pink Quill Plant, is an epiphyte like its now trendy air plant cousins (which we sell on our website by the way) but this one can grow in a fast draining mix.   Their grass-like foliage is attractive yet tough as can be.  This is good because the purple flowers that form out of the pink quill do not appear on any kind of a regular basis.   It takes awhile for them to bloom so it’s best to buy one with the quills and/or flowers already on it if that’s what you want.

My Air Plants I’ve had for years now.
I purchased my new Tillandsia from Santa Ynez Nursery which sells at our Saturday farmers market to use for an video I did on its care.   This one already had 3 quills on it but the flowers have appeared very slowly due to the fact it lives outdoors and the days are shorter now and the evenings cooler.  They are native to warm jungles after all so I won’t see many flowers making an appearance until it warms up.   It already had quite a few pups on it (baby plants which grow off the mother plant) so I could have divided it had I wanted to. 

Because the care of these plants is easy, I figured this would be a good replacement for the succulents that had started to go downhill in my upside down, sideways cracked pot.  You’ll see me showing how I transplanted it in the video below.  I spray the Tillandsia so the foliage gets moist but the soil does not get drenched.  Because mine lives outdoors and gets nutrients from the air, I don’t fertilize it.  If yours is indoors and you need to feed it, use a liquid fertilizer that is high in Nitrogen and Potassium and has no trace minerals diluted down 3 or 4 times.  Then simply spray that mixture on the foliage.  They are not crazy about dry air (remember, they grow in jungles not deserts) so you might have to mist yours with water once or twice a week.   Filtered water is what they prefer – they don’t like chlorine.





When planting time came around I used a combination of the mixture already in the ceramic pot that the succulents were growing in plus some of the planting mix the Tillandsia came in plus orchid bark.  This will work just fine because the water will drain right off the plant and that’s what it wants.  It should root in tighter than the succulents did and prevent the soil mix from spilling out.   Morning sun is all it will get – they will burn in hot, sunny conditions.

This is the video where you see me planting the Tillandsia in its new home.

This is the video I did for on Tillandsia cyanea care.

The Tillandsia cyanea is another easy care plant to live amongst my many succulents.  I’m sure they’ll thrive side by side!

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  1. Thanks for you videos. What i am woundering about the tillandsia cyanea is once the beautiful pink quills turn dull coloured and almost pale green. Should the quills be removed. Or have i been doing something wrong and they shouldnt have changed colour?Thank you again for your site and videos. Its been helpfull. Angie

  2. Thank you Angie! You aren’t doing anything wrong – the plant is going through its normal cycle after flowering. The pink quill is the flower & will fade to grey/green over time. Cut it away when it completely dies. You’ll see the plant itself gradually turning brown, leaf by leaf, & that’s normal. The “mother” will die but don’t toss the plant – babies will appear at the base & live on. It takes a while for them to flower so be patient. Nell

  3. I’m a rookie at this gardening game & I just bought a Cyanea @ my local Home Depot Thanx for the info! I live in the Tampa Bay Florida area & planted mine in a pot of sodding mix on the west side of my car port, on lattice work facing east toward my house. Hopefuly the lattice work will protect it from burning this summer!??

  4. Michael – Be careful, Bromeliads are addicting! Some take more sun than other but the Tillandsia cyanea does like a fair amount of shade – diffused light is best. In nature they grow under the protection of other plants & get light but not direct sun. The lattice should (facing east) should protect it but if you see it starting to burn, move it right away to a place with less direct sun. Nell

  5. hi, my pink quill has bloomed about 5 months ago and is now green, it has not died or dried out yet and there are 3 pups connected. will the mother die on its own (read this on another site) or do i have to cut it out?

  6. Hi Cassie – The mother will die on its own, but for now, it’s still nurturing those pups. When the foliage of the mother is dry & has completely died, then you should be able to lift it right off. If not, then cut it. Nell

  7. I ordered my first pink quill plant I got it online from hirts gardens. Around here we have boring indoor plants and this caught my eye when I was doing some online plant shopping. My question is how do I know there is pups? I been trying to find a video but can’t find one. And if there is pups do I leave them or can I put them in a different pot? And if so how do I do that? Would it be possible if you can do a video? I really love this plant I also want to make sure I’m doing everything right. I had no idea that you mist the plant either. I have tap water which means there is chlorine but I have a breta water filter is that water safe or should I buy water at the store?

  8. Hi Angel – You will see little baby plants appearing at the base of your mother plant. Sometimes it takes a while so be patient. You want to wait until the pups are about a quarter to third the size of the mother plant to remove. You can either leave them on the mother plant or remove them (by pulling & twisting or cutting them off carefully) – the choice is yours. Your tap water should be fine unless you see lots of brown tips on the plant. Pink Quill Plants, like Air Plants, are bromeliads. Here’s a video I did about pruning the pups: Hope that helps, Nell

  9. I bought three at home depot and took them out of the pots because I thought they were too wet. I rinsed the soil off and put them in wooden orchid baskets and put them on the magnolia tree limbs for shade. Should I redo them and add soil? I live in north central florida.

  10. Hi Jackie – In Florida they should be fine. You get much more rainfall & the humidity is higher than here in southern California. I use a mixture of potting soil & orchid bark to protect the roots from completely drying out. If they start to show signs of stress, you might consider putting them in a similar mix or just orchid bark would be fine too. I hope that helps, Nell

  11. I picked up my first ever pink quill a few weeks ago and as far as I know, I’ve kept it in perfect conditions: filtered light, only misting the quill/leaves rather than watering the soil and it’s been kept away from our drafty door and window. It has started the blooming process now four times, but each time, the flower comes out and doesn’t actually open. The little purple bud looks a bit dry or like it has a waxy coating on it. I thought maybe it was too dry in the house, so I’ve been lightly misting it every other day, but the most recent one came out fully today and the same thing. Do you have any idea what might be the problem?

  12. Hi Sarah – What is happening to your Quill Plant is common in home environments. They are native to the rainforests of Ecuador, & are grown for sale to us in greenhouses with humid conditions. It sounds like you’re doing everything right, but the average humidity in our homes is below 40%. These plants prefer it above 60-70% so the flowers are simply drying up before they can come out. It’s best to buy one already in the flowering process if you want those beautiful blue blooms. If you live in a climate with humidity, you can put it outside (sheltered from the sun) for the warmer months or open the windows. I hope that helps, Nell

  13. I just got my pink quill, and i was wondering, how many flowers bloom on average, because mine only has three. Is that an O.K. amount?

  14. Hi – I’m going to assume you’re referring to the flowers, which are blue & come off the quill, & not the pink quill itself. I’ve never seen a Pink Quill Plant with more then 4 flowers open at 1 time. The quill should last 8-10 weeks, whereas the flowers open at different times & are much shorter lived. I hope that helps, Nell

  15. Hi Neil! 🙂
    I received a pink quill for a gift at my new office. It was already Greenwell I got it. I took it home to repot it because I was afraid it had been getting too much water. Now that I have it in a draining pot it seems super happy except the was green quill is turning brown and I don’t know what to do. Can you remove the quill? Please help! 🙂

  16. Hi Kristen – Blue flowers should have appeared off the quill. Once the quill is totally brown, remove it at the base. The mother plant that produced the quill will eventually die. Don’t be sad though because new babies (pups) will start to grow off the base of the mother plant. And yes, they are very prone to overwatering. I hope that helps! Nell

  17. I bought a sorry looking plant from a local nursery here in Ireland and I’m guessing I’ve missed out on the blue blooms 🙁 but there are what looks like 2 new pups growing from the center of the plant (old quill still looks healthy though) so my south facing bathroom seems to be the best room for my Tillandsia as I rarely water it but I think showering seems to mist it enough & the Japanese birdsnest loves it too .

  18. Hi Catherine – Every now & then nurseries will sell the tillandsias post bloom but at least you have a couple of new pups emerging. In the cooler, darker months of winter be sure to back off on the water – they can rot out at the base quickie. Yes, it loves nice, bright light. Best, Nell

  19. Hello from Australia, My Tillandsia Cyanea has produced a couple of flowers since I bought it 2 years ago. But now the green foliage seems to be dry and just hangs down. Please help me revive this lovely brom or is it too late. Do I cut it right back or ??? Thank You…

  20. Hello Judy to you in Australia from California. After your Tillandsia cyanea flowers, then that mother plant eventually (could take 2 years) dies. Pups, or babies, should be appearing at the base of the mother plant. If the foliage is completely dead, then you can remove it. Be sure to leave some of the base so the pups can form. Hope that helps, Nell

  21. Hi Judy from North Carolina. I am sorta at the this but I have a Tillandsia Cyanea that I purchased in one of those containers with the magnet for hanging the container on the refrigerator. It grew and I have repotted it and I noticed that some of the leaves have brown tips. The sun is cool so I let it get direct morning sun and late afternoon sun and Mist frequently. I think I am doing things right but perhaps I am not. Your help would be much appreciated.

  22. Hi Judy – These plants are native to the tropical rainforests so they like humidity. If our home environments are too dry & even if we mist them, it’s sometimes not enough. Also, under watering, over watering or too much fertilizing can cause those tips. Another common reason is poor water quality – too much salt & too many minerals in tap water can do it. It’s hard to say exactly which one or combination of are causing the tipping but I hope that helps. Nell

  23. Hello!

    All the way from The Netherlands (Europe) I just came across your great website and I love it!
    Question about these plants: I read these grow in soil but could they also live without soil – as they are familiar to the airplant? Curious to know! Thanks! Jacqueline

  24. Hi Jacqueline – Thank you – glad you found our site too! I love The Netherlands & have been to your country quite a few times because I have 2 friends who live there. I was able to go to Keukenhof 1 year – what a treat for the senses. The Pink Quill Plant is the only tillandsia which can growing in soil. In all my years in the biz, I’ve never seen them sold as as air plants like all the others. However, I have seen them growing wrapped in moss on bark & also in a moss ball which they completely covered. To the best of my knowledge, they need some sort of medium to grow on (if you want them to last a longer period of time). If I find out otherwise, I’ll let you know! Nell

  25. maggie thornbury

    Hi i would like to know if i can repot my indoor tillandsla as i have what seems to be 2 young plants growing in the centre of the plant

  26. Hi Maggie – Yes, you can repot you tillandsia now. The times that are not good to do it are in the winter months & when it is flowering. Hope that helps, Nell

  27. I just purchased my tillandsia from a local Kauai Orchid show and it has two fragrant blue flowers from one pink quill. I am trying to figure out where to locate it on my back lanai as I want to keep it outdoors. Humidity is no problem here on the Northshore of Kauai, Hawaii as it is usually 70%+. What are its light requirements? Can it tolerate southern exposure on a covered lanai? It would get morning sun in one spot or late setting sun in another spot. Where would it prefer? Mahalo.

  28. Hi Cheryl – Your Pink Quill plant is in heaven in beautiful Kauai! You want to place it in a bright spot but make sure it gets no hot,direct sun. So, that means protecting it from the noon day & afternoon rays. The morning sun or the late setting sun would be fine, just as it’s not getting too strong. They need the diffused light to bloom, but will burn if they get too much sun. Hope that helps! Nell

  29. This is a great site and has helped me a lot. I finally took a photo of the Pink Quill in bloom at Ford Island, HI and have been looking for the plants here. The girl looked up the name Tillandsia so I looked for it on the computer to find many things along with it. The one I have been looking for appears to be the pink quill with a medium tall grass as its base. When they get them it I will be in line and now know not to plant them with the 5 ft. fern to protect them from the sun as I water it a lot so I will get some orchid bark to put in with my potting soil and put them in a pot on top of the planter the palm is in so both can get what they need. I am thrilled to finally learn their name.

  30. Thank you Jan. Because these plants grow both in the soil & on other plants (they are also considered to be epiphytic bromeliads like other tillandsias) they’ll appreciate some orchid bark in the mix. Just be sure to protected your Pink Quill Plant from the hot, strong afternoon sun. Best, Nell

  31. Hey there, I also have one of these lovely plants as mentioned mine is growing from a moss ball. It has gone through its flowering process and the quill is not turning very brown. Will mine revive itself if it is in the moss ball? And if so do I cut it at the stem coming out of the moss ball when it is completely dead? Cheers

  32. Hi Briallen – Each plant only flowers once. The quill will eventually turn brown & you’ll need to cut it off. And yes, cut the stem off at the base. Cheers to you, Nell

  33. Hi fron the mid north coast of New South Wales Australia!

    Firstly Thank you for all your advise and help! Awesome!!
    I’ve had 1 smaller Tillandsia for about 3 years now, it had 2 flowers when it was given to me which bloomed nicely and beautifully colored. After that died back,I cut one off and for whatever reason left the other.

    I was then given a larger one, god bless mum! lol as a thank you, it had 2 flowers also.

    About a week ago I noticed the smaller one, which I thought I must have been mistreating as it didn’t flower since I got it 3 years back, had 3 flowers forming, 3 ‘quills’, stoked!! lol
    I then noticed the larger one starting to form Quills also.
    I read earlier you hadn’t seen more than 4 quills (?? I think), my larger one has 5 this year and fingers crossed it blooms as well as both did when I got them! Just an FYI in regard to that…5!!

    Thanks for your input and knowledge, I am confident now that I have, in fact, even treating them correctly without even knowing their requirements. After reading here, I know more and will only do better. They are both outdoors always, an out of direct sun, under an awning.

    I would like to ask, is it possible to just glue or tie them as with an air-plant? To make a more striking and interesting feature of them? Onto wood or possible a piece of sandstone? Or even a hanging ball with sphagnum moss around the roots?

    Any advise with regard to this would be greatly recieved and used.


  34. Hi Gary – Greetings to you in New South Wales from me in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona! Thank you for sharing. I’ve seen pictures of TCs with many quills & blooms but never in person. Yes, just be sure to shelter them from any direct sun because they’ll burn. This is a plant which goes both ways – it grows in soil & also epiphytically. You can certainly wrap them in moss & then attach it to a piece of wood or stone. That’s how they grow in nature. They’re great for kokedama (the moss ball) & would look striking that way. I have a small TC & should do a video on that. It’s very in right now! Nell

  35. I purchased 3 pink quill plants here in Florida. They were purchased from a nursery at a garden show and were in small pots. My daughter took one home to Vegas, but we are both raising them in the house. We have soaked the soil, from the bottom about every 2 weeks, but I recently read that we should be misting them and only wetting the soil occassionally so we don’t rot the roots.
    My question is mostly about the quills. When I purchased them the quills were green. Is this post bloom, as I may have read in one of your above posts? Mine are still green, but her’s is a pale yellow. We are not sure if this coloring is due to watering, light, or the bloom cycle. Both plants look healthy and have pups forming around the quill.
    Thanks for all your helpful information above.

  36. Hi Kathy – I soak my Pink Quill Plant once a month (I’m in the Arizona desert so it’s dry here) & mist it once a week. The quill is pink when it’s about to go into bloom. Mine is now a pale green which means it’s flowered. The quill will stay this color for quite some time before it turns brown & dies. Nell

  37. Hi I live in Portugal and I´ve had my plant about 6 month. It went from pink to green and is now half green half dead, Its brown and dry at the top and seems to be getting worse although the leaves are still a healthy dark green colour with no brown spots. Is this a normal? Thanks Jessica

  38. Yes Jessica, it’s the normal life cycle. Mine is now green also. When the quill & stem are completely brown & dead, cut them off. Nell

  39. Nell, my fertilizer for my orchids is high in nitrogen (19) and potassium (31) but also has potash (17) and trace minerals. Can I use this diluted for my tillandsia cyanea I just bought? I don’t know where to get fertilizer with just N and P and no trace minerals.

  40. Hi Lynda – Bromeliads prefer a fertilizer with a different formulation, like 17-8-22. The orchid food I recommend to feed them with is 20-10-20, diluted to 1/2 strength. The potassium on yours is too high. The trace minerals are ok just as long as there’s no urea in it, which orchid fertilizers don’t have. Nell

  41. Thank you Nell, I will look for some.

  42. I bought mine at Vons and I have it at work on my desk in the office. The pink turned green. I have had seen several purple flowers. Thanks to your site, I now know what to do next when the quill turns brown. Thank you so much!

  43. My pleasure Diana – so glad it helped you! By the way, the quill on mine stayed green for at least a month or 2 before starting to die off. Nell

  44. the pink quill of my tillandsia has fallen off like 3 years ago and i have been doing all i can to help the plant regrow another quill and tbh im pretty scared about it because i really love this plant

  45. Hello,

    My cats like to chew on the leaves of my pink quill plant. I read on the internet that lemon and water mixture tastes bad to the cats but is it bad for the plant?

  46. Hi Marie – The mother plant doesn’t repeat bloom but the pups (babies at the base will). It usually takes about 5 years for those pups to bloom. Nell

  47. Hi Alejandra – Tillansias aren’t toxic for pets. It could make them a bit sick by chewing on them though. Citrus won’t hurt the plant as long as the concentration isn’t too high. Nell

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