The large, dramatic floral display on pink quill bromeliads is like nothing else. The flower has thick, bright pink bracts stacked like scales with bright blue-purple flowers extending out of the top.
The leaves, while less showy, are thin, strappy, and succulent, making them an attractive houseplant even when the flower bract isn’t present.
The colorful quill that this plant is named for sticks around for months and months, but once the flowers emerge, the plant will die within a few weeks.
Pink quill bromeliads are part of the Bromeliaceae family and were once classified as air plants in the Tillandsia genus, but it was recently reclassified as part of the Wallisia genus.
- Genus: Wallisia
- Species: cyanea
- Native To: Ecuador, Peru
- Sun Exposure: Typically bright indirect or diffused light
- Soil Preference: Well-draining loam, bark and moss, or mounted
- Soil pH: 6.0-7.3
- Blossom Color: Purple, violet, blue, pink
- Growing Zones: 10-11
Caring for Pink Quill Bromeliads:
This unique plant hails from Ecuador and Peru, where it’s rapidly becoming threatened due to land loss. It has become popular as a houseplant or for cultivation in warm climates across the globe because of its ease of care and colorful quill.
In the wild, pink quills are epiphytes that grow attached to other trees or plants. In the house, you can plant them in pots or mount them, similar to how they’d grow in the wild. They can also be grown out of soil as air plants.
Pink quill bromeliads prefer warm weather and moderate to high humidity. 60-80°F is about right, with a relative humidity of 55% or above. They can tolerate conditions outside of this range, but they will grow better when given the conditions they prefer. Avoid temperatures below 40°F.
Provide these plants with several hours of direct light for the best color, but avoid direct sun in the afternoon because it’s too harsh. Morning or evening sun is best. Otherwise, you can provide eight or more hours of bright but indirect light. If you have a spot within a few feet of a west-facing window with sheer curtains, that’s ideal. Open the curtains in the morning to provide some direct exposure.
If you choose to grow your plant in soil, it needs to be well-draining and extremely light. Standard potting soil is too heavy. Look for a cactus or orchid potting medium, because these are light and airy enough for the roots of pink quill plants.
If you keep your plants in soil, you need to be extremely cautious about watering. Don’t moisten the potting medium. Spray the leaves of the plant every few weeks to a month, depending on the relative humidity and temperature of your area. The water will run off the leaves and into the soil, and that’s plenty to keep the plant healthy.
Potted or mounted plants should also be misted a bit more often, closer to every two weeks.
If you have chlorinated municipal water, use distilled or rainwater, as these plants are sensitive to chlorine.
Pink quills don’t need a lot of feeding. They gather much of what they need from the environment all on their own. Spray the leaves with a foliar fertilizer twice a year: once in the early spring and once in the late summer.
The fertilizer should be water soluble and mild, with an NPK of 2-2-2.
Potting or Mounting
Pink quills can be cared for like a mesic tillandsia, also known as an air plant. They can be placed in a cloche, hung from rope, or set on wood. You can also mount them by wrapping the roots in sphagnum moss and attaching it to any surface.
If you opt to plant in soil, choose a pot that has good drainage and that is small. Oversized pots encourage overwatering. A pot approximately a fourth of the size of the leaves is about right.
There are two cultivars on the market, though both are hard to find. ‘Sandy’ has longer leaves and the quill is a touch more red. ‘Anita’ has pink flowers rather than purple. There is also a form with cream-lined leaves called albo marginata.
As the plant ages, the bracts turn green and purple flowers emerge. The purple flowers only last for a few days, and then the whole plant begins to fade. Just before this happens, your pink quill will send out pups or offsets. There are miniature versions of the parent plant. You can cut these off and grow them as new plants.
Use a clean pair of scissors or clippers and cut the pup away from the parent once its about a quarter of the size of the parent. Place the plant in soil or on a clean surface. Care for it as you would an adult plant.
Common Problems, Pests, and Diseases
Pests and problems are rare with these plants, provided that you don’t overwater them and that you give them the right light exposure. Stressed pink quills are susceptible to aphids, mealybugs, and scale.
Overwatering leads to root rot. If your plant starts to droop and wilt, with browning leaves, resist the urge to add more water. Instead, stick your finger in the soil regularly to ensure that it’s totally dry before misting the plant with water.