Skip to Content

Tillandsia Cyanea Care – Did you know that…?

Tillandsia Cyanea Care – Did you know that…?

Sometimes when you think you know everything you discover that there is more to learn!

I have just discovered a beautiful airplant, the Tillandsia cyanea, and have found out that it can be grown in both, air and soil. 

This makes it super exciting for home gardeners. Do you enjoy getting your hands dirty?

If yes, then plant it into a pot. If No, then plant into a lovely glass globe with no soil. 

The tillandsia cyanea is also known as the Fan Flower or the Pink Quill Plant.

This name comes from the gorgeous dark pink spike, or inflorescence, that it produces once it matures. 

The tillandsia cyanea is native to the rainforests of Ecuador where it grows as an epiphyte on other plants and in crevices in the branches of trees.

This airplant makes an eye-catching display in your home and is easy to grow. 

Read on for all you need to know about best Tillandsia cyanea care. 



Tillandsia cyanea Care

Tillandsia cyanea thrives best in medium humidity, warm conditions with temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). You can either grow it in soil or without a potting mix. In case you choose potting mix, plant it into a well-draining orchid mix. The plant enjoys bright light and fresh air. Do not allow it to get too many hours of direct sunlight. Water by drizzling filtered water or rainwater into the funnel and by spraying the leaves. Fertilize sparingly only during the growing season. 



Tillandsia cyanea can be grown in a pot or soilless

If you are planting in soil, it is best to give it loose, well-drained soil. Buying an orchid mix or bromeliad mix is ideal for your pink quill plant.

An orchid mix contains a unique blend of wood bark, wooden charcoal, and coco chips. I like to add in some perlite for extra nutrients. Don’t pack the soil too tight, keep the mix loose so that air can flow around the roots. 



Being an air plant, your Tillandsia cyanea needs as much light as possible. It does not do well in dark spots. 

Place your plant in a position that has bright filtered light or indirect light. Long periods of direct sun is not ideal, but it can cope with a few hours of direct sun per day. 

For indoor plants, place near to a window that faces east or west.

For outdoor plants, try to shield them from the direct hot afternoon sun. Too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to burn and turn brown. 



Tillandsia cyanea is a rainforest plant and it loves water. When grown as an air plant, it absorbs nutrients and moisture through the leaves and not through the roots like other plants.

This is done using small appendages called trichomes, small sponges, that grow on the leaves. 

In its natural habitat, the Pink Quill Plant gets its water from rainwater that collects in the crevices in which it grows. It also absorbs rainwater as it washes over the leaves. 

For your indoor pot plant, water by trickling a small amount into the funnel of the plant. It has a natural cup shape that will hold the water.

You can do this once a week and more often if you are in a hot, dry environment. Reduce watering to once every 2 weeks if it is in a humid spot. Reduce watering in winter. 

You can also use a mist spray to spray the leaves. Allow the plant to dry fully after spraying. 

Check that the water in the cup does not stagnate and flush out the cup every now and then to prevent the build-up of salts. 

Tip for optimal Tillandsia cyanea watering care: Use filtered tap water or rainwater if possible.

Normal tap water has large amounts of fluoride and chlorine that can build up on the leaves damage them.

If you can get hold of aquarium or pond water, that is even better, as it contains loads of natural nutrients.



Being a tropical bromeliad, the best temperature for your Fan Flower is 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C).

Try to ensure that your plant is not outdoors in temperatures below 39°F (4°C).

If you are growing your plant outdoors and you have cold winters, why not consider planting it in a container? You can then move it into a greenhouse or warmer spot during the winter months.

The Pink Quill Plant is winter hardy in USDA zones 11 and above. It will not tolerate frost. 



Tillandsia cyanea enjoys a moderate level of humidity. If your home has an average humidity of around 40% to 50%, your Pink Quill Plant will be perfectly happy. 

Although it needs to be sprayed often, it must be allowed to dry out between sprayings to prevent the roots from rotting. 

Good air circulation is vital for your Tillandsia cyanea.

They love air that moves and is not stale. This should be natural circulating air, best achieved through open windows and not in the draught of an air conditioner or heater. 

Tillandsia cyanea humidity care tip: To recreate rainforest-type conditions, give your Tillandsia cyanea a light mist spray every few days. 



Tillandsia cyanea does not need excessive fertilizing. It will grow happily for months with very little care. Just ensure that it has adequate light, water, and fresh air. 

For new gardeners, feeding a plant that does not grow in soil may be a challenge! The best way to do this is to mix your fertilizer into the water you use in your mist sprayer. 

I use an orchid food that I dilute to 1/2 the suggested strength. Orchid foods provide the correct balance of nitrogen and micronutrients that your plant requires. 

Fertilizing should be done once a month or less, only during the growing season. Over-fertilizing can harm the plant and may even kill it. 

Tillandsia cyanea fertilizing care tip: If you are using pond or aquarium water, you don’t need to fertilize your plant. The water naturally contains enough fertilizer.



Propagation of your Tillandsia cyanea can be done via offsets or pups that grow at the base of the mother plant. 

A mature plant will produce pups after blooming. The mother plant will eventually die and the pups will grow into a new mother plant.

This is a natural cycle, so don’t think that the plant died because you did not care for it. 

By separating the pups from the mother plant. you can create new plants. It is a fun and rewarding experience! 

Further on, you will find my detailed steps on how to do this. 



Tillandsia cyanea is an evergreen air plant that grows to around 10 inches (25cm) in size. If left to sprawl out, it can reach a width of around 12 inches (30cm). 

It has long dark strappy leaves that form a rosette shape. 

After 2 to 3 years, when your plant reaches maturity, it will produce a glorious pink spike in its center, known as an inflorescence.

The inflorescence forms a fan-shape and gives rise to bright blue-purple flowers. The flowers are short-lived and only appear for a day or two.

This beautiful plant has a sad story – it will only bloom once in its life, after which it will start to wither. It is not all gloom and doom though. The mother plant produces offsets or pups, that will grow into new plants. 

Your indoor airplant may grow roots. These are used to anchor the plant to a host. The anchor may be your decorative container, a tree branch, or a wall frame, depending on how you decide to show it off. 



Because air plants do not need soil, you can get creative on how you want to display them. The Fan Plant is an epiphyte and will easily attach itself to anything that will support it. 

Think out of the box. Place your pink quill plant into a beautiful glass globe, into a large seashell, or onto a twisted piece of driftwood. A classic terrarium also makes a great show-piece. 

Make sure that your plant is securely attached to the display you choose and that it cannot fall out. 

If you are planting into the soil, a small to medium pot is ideal as the roots do not spread too far. Use an orchid mix and do not pack it tightly. 

The plant needs air circulation and excellent drainage. 

Push a hole into the middle of the pot with your fingers and carefully place the plant into it. Fill in the hole with extra soil mix. Give the plant good watering by drizzling water into the cup and mist-spraying the leaves. 

Are you looking for something different and exciting? I recently came across the Japanese art of Kokedama.

This is the technique of growing plants in a ball of soil, covered with soft green moss, and held together with string or fishing gut.

I am told that the Pink Quill is the perfect plant to use, so I will certainly give it a try.

Tillandsia cyanea potting care tip: I like to make my own soil that is chemical-free and eco-friendly. For this plant, I make up a mix of coco coir and orchid bark. You can also add in some wooden charcoal pieces.


Tillandsia cyanea in-depth propagation guide

Propagate from offsets when grown as an air plant

  • Once your Pink Quill plant has matured and bloomed it will grow offsets, or pups, at its base
  • These pups can be removed from the mother plant and used to create new plants
  • Wait until the pups are at least 2.5 inches (7cm) tall 
  • Remove your mother plant from its display
  • Place onto a clean, dry work surface
  • Gently pull the leaves apart until you have exposed the pups 
  • Using your fingers, pull the pups off the main plant using a gentle twisting motion 
  • You can also use a clean sterile knife or scalpel
  • As each pup is separated, place it aside for planting 
  • Remount the mother plant 
  • Attach the pups to their new containers
  • For the first couple of weeks, mist-spray the pups every day in the morning


Propagate from offsets when grown in soil 

  • Once your Pink Quill plant has matured and bloomed it will grow offsets or pups at its base
  • These pups can be removed from the mother plant and used to create new plants
  • Wait until the pups are at least 2.5 inches (7cm) tall 
  • Prepare your new planters with an orchid mix
  • Using your fingers or a clean knife, carefully separate the pups from the mother plant 
  • Avoid damaging the base of the mother plant, unless it is at the end of its life and you won’t be replanting it
  • You can also use your fingers to pull the pups off the main plant using a gentle twisting motion 
  • As each pup is separated, place it aside for planting 
  • Plant the pups into the center of the new container 
  • Mist-spray the pups with a light spray every morning for a few weeks
  • You will need to ensure that your plant gets correct watering, light, and fresh air. It can take up to 3 to 6 months to root


Common problems with Tillandsia cyanea


Pest Control

Tillandsia cyanea does not have major issues with pests and disease. 

Your plant may be attacked by aphids, scale insects, or spider mites

This is usually sorted out by giving it a strong spray of water. If they persist, you can add a natural insecticidal soap to your water spray.


Brown lines across the leaves at the waterline

The Tillandsia cyanea has a natural cup or funnel shape that allows water to collect. If your plant is subjected to very cold temperatures, the water may freeze in the funnel.

This will create cold damage that appears as brown lines across the leaves. 

To prevent this, try to keep your plant in warmer temperatures that do not drop below 39°F (4°C). You should also tip the plant over to allow the sitting water to drain out of the cup. 


Rotting roots 

Tillandsia cyanea does not enjoy living in damp soil. The roots will rot and the plant will eventually die.

The air plant can be potted into a variety of displays including glass vases, glass globes, and tree branches. Ensure that these containers have adequate drainage holes for water to run off.  

If you are planting into a plant pot, ensure that the drainage holes are not blocked. Do not soak the base of the plant. 


Leaves shrivel and turn brown

This can be a sign of too much chlorine in your water. Tillandsia cyanea is chlorine sensitive. Try to use filtered water, rainwater, natural aquarium, or pond water if possible. 

Brown tips on the leaves are also a sign of too little water or a humidity level that is too dry. 


Tips to grow Tillandsia cyanea problem-free

  • This plant can grow in air or soil 
  • As an air plant, place it into a decorative container and ensure it is firmly supported
  • As a soil plant, plant into an orchid mix that is well-draining and well-aerated
  • Place in a bright well-lit spot with about an hour of direct sun per day
  • Water by drizzling water into the cup or funnel
  • Allow to dry off fully before rewatering 
  • Mist spraying is great for this plant 
  • Ensure your humidity is average at around 40% to 50%
  • Fertilize only during the growing season


Frequently asked questions about Tillandsia cyanea


Is Tillandsia cyanea a parasite? 

The plant is an epiphyte that grows on a supporting host. It is not a parasite. They use their roots to attach and anchor themselves to branches of trees, stems of other plants, or even rocks. They do not absorb nutrients from a living host, nor will they kill it. 


Is Tillandsia cyanea poisonous? 

This air plant is not poisonous. Cats, however, do like to chew on the leaves, which is probably best avoided. Place your plant where your kitty cannot reach it. It is best for the plant and your pet.


Does Tillandsia cyanea require a lot of maintenance and care? 

Tillandsia cyanea does not require much care. It can grow happily with a regular spray of water, fresh air, and lots of bright light. 


Is Tillandsia cyanea frost resistant?

Tillandsia cyanea is not frost resistant. It enjoys warmer, fairly humid climates. Your plant won’t be happy in extreme cold or frost conditions.



When mature, Tillandsia cyanea is a glorious plant with an attractive bright pink inflorescence and blue-purple flowers. When it is not in bloom, the long grey leaves create a lovely effect in any room. 

I love this plant because I can grow it both as an air plant and as a soil plant. 

It is great for beginners as it is easy to maintain. It will happily thrive in a bright spot with fresh air and regular watering. 

I have mine growing indoors as an air plant in a gorgeous antique birdcage.

I have also added a Tillandsia ionantha into my display. This species has silvery-green leaves that deepen into lovely red and pink hues before the plant blooms and offer stunning violet blossoms. 

Eucalyptus Plant Care – The Definitive Guide
Alocasia Zebrina Plant Care
Alocasia Zebrina Care – #1 Best Tips