One instant way to make your house brighter and more cheerful is adding a unique flowery plant. Tillandsia cyanea, also known as “pink quill”, is perfect to achieve this effect. This plant is one of the South American native plants that are popular among homeowners in North America. The exotic look, unique feature, and easy care make this plant a great addition in your home.
Description of Tillandsia Cyanea
T. cyanea is a native species from Ecuador, and unlike many plants, it absorbs nutrition from the air. The name pink quill plant came from its multiple bracts, which resemble antique quills. Thanks to the bright pink color, these bracts are often mistaken as the flowers. The actual blooms of these plants are smaller, but they have deep violet color. The leaves are thin and long, growing in a circular pattern as if they are “spread” outward.
Pink quill is a bromeliad plant, but unlike other species, this plant only flowers once before it slowly dies. In its natural habitat, the plant has just a little time to produce seeds before dies. Therefore, the pink quill is unsuitable for a permanent houseplant, unless you proliferate the growing offsets. However, it surely provides cheer and brightness longer than a flower bouquet.
Pink quill is one of those “bromeliad cats” plants, which means that it is safe for cats (and dogs). Perfect if you are worried about the risk of plant toxins toward your inquisitive pets. Since the leaves are a bit crunchy, puppies or kittens may love chewing on them. They may get sick, but they will not get any toxic effects.
Requirements to Plant Pink Quill
Since pink quill is a native plant from tropical South America, you need to provide similar condition at home. Here are requirements to grow pink quill:
Loamy, fertile soil
You need loamy soil that provides good water circulation. Orchid mix is an easy option. You can also mix regular compost with cymbidium mix or orchid barks.
The ideal temperature for pink quill is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). However, the plan can deal with slightly higher or lower temperature. You can just keep the standard ideal temperature near the blooming season, to encourage the flowers for coming out.
The bromeliad Tillandsia loves humidity, but pink quill does not need it in extreme quantity. You can install humidifier if you live in a place with really dry weather. You can also mist the plant occasionally during hot months, which is cheaper than buying a humidifier.
Little but consistent watering
Pink quill does not need much water, although it requires a little bit more than other bromeliad plants. You can water it every several weeks. Avoid overwatering since the root system is short. The key is to wait until the soil looks dry before watering it.
Bright but indirect light
Pink quill loves bright light, but direct sunlight will scorch its leaves. Therefore, you should place it in a room that has enough natural but indirect light source.
Pink quill is easy to find at nurseries and gardening supply stores. However, be careful if the plants have suspiciously low prices. This is maybe because the seller tries to get rid of plants that have gone past its flowering period.
How to Repot and Plant Pink Quill
Interested in having pink quill at home? Here is what to do after buying the plant:
Find a suitable pot
Pink quill is a dwarf bromeliad, and its maximum height is around 10 inches (25 cm), complete with the short root system. If the plant already comes with a pot, you don’t need to change it. However, if you decide to repot it, choose a medium-sized one that has drainage hole underneath.
Create suitable pot mix
Place a layer of orchid barks on the bottom part of the pot. Add regular orchid mix until it reaches ¾ part of the pot. Mix well.
Plant your pink quill by burying it in the soil mix, just slightly above the root system. Make sure the soil is not too tightly-packed to ensure good drainage.
Fertilize and water the right way
Since pink quill takes nutrition from the air, you should fertilize and water it properly. Add some water to the soil until it is wet (not flooded). Fertilize the plant by spraying the leaves with bromeliad fertilizing spray.
If you buy a young plant, you should see the bracts and flowers in two to three years. The quill-like bracts can stay for four months, while the small flowers only stay for a few days. When you see the new growths at the base of the withering plant, you can just remove the withered stalk and leaves, and let the new ones grow in the same pot.
Taking Care of Pink Quill
Tillandsia cyanea care is easy because it is a robust plant. As long as you follow all the requirements, such as for the temperature, light, and watering, your plant will grow happily. In fact, if you water or fertilize it too often, the plant can get sick and even die.
Spraying is the best way to keep it moist and fertilized. You can wet the soil only when it becomes dry and cracked. Pay the rest of your attention to the leaves by spraying them with water and bromeliad fertilizer (the fertilizing can be done once every six months or a year). The general rule is: better underwater the plant than overwater it.
Tillandsia flower can only come out when the temperature and humidity level is right. Make sure to install humidifier and set the temperature to the ideal numbers several weeks before blooming season (pay attention to the quill bracts to see flower buds). Also, pay attention to any changes on the leaves, such as dark patches and scorched tips. They may be caused by overexposure toward direct sunlight.
Pink quill may be short-lived, but the plant makes it up with a unique appearance, robust condition, and easy care. It is also great for homeowners with pets because it does not contain toxins. If you look for a unique plant that offers temporary delights, with easy care and strong quality, the Tillandsia cyanea is your option.