I feel compelled to confess the somewhat embarassing fact that for the longest time, I misspelled T. cyanea as T. cynea. And me a writer and editor! Oh, dear.
Anyway. This somewhat grassy-looking tillandsia isn’t one of my personal favourites, though it’s certainly grown on me over the many months its been a part of our little high-rise garden. We bought it because E, freshly introduced to the world of Hawaiian slack key guitar, was going a little crazy picking up little facts and trivia about Hawaii, its culture, flora and fauna. See, T. cynea is also known by two other names – Pink Quill (for its flowering bract) and Kamehameha’s Paddle (after Hawaii’s King Kamehameha, probably because its shape and colouring brings to mind the Law of the Splintered Paddle).
T. cyanea is not a showy plant until it flowers. It is also one of the very few tillandsias that can be grown potted in well-draining media instead of almost bare-rooted, can take less light, and is able to survive a pretty wide range of watering schedules. Appearance-wise, one might mistake it for a bunch of grass, though, which is why I don’t find it particularly attractive. Tillies only flower once in their life cycles, so it doesn’t make sense to me to keep them for the sake of their flowers. Pick a plant whose foliage you love and whose needs more or less match your growing environment. Personally, I’d have picked a variegated T. cyanea if one had been available, but alas, only the ordinary dark green variety was on sale.
Our plant hasn’t flowered yet. It’s only gotten bigger and bushier and appears to have one or two grass/adventitious pups pushing up close to its base. Odd, that.