Not to adopt the tone of a Jay Leno monologue, but plants sure are popular with the kids these days, have you heard about this? There are plenty of reasons why the American dream continues to shrink down from houses and children to direct-to-consumer hipster mattresses and Monstera plants, and I’m more than a little concerned that the downward trajectory will only quicken. Will the post-Zoomer generation be reduced to collecting potable water and scrap metal as a means of demonstrating their class mobility? All while the ruling elites continue to feud with each other over the ability to pay five figures for a nine-leaved rarity, of course. Let’s forget about that for now though and move onto today’s topic, the pleasantly-prehistoric Tillandsia Cyanea.
As I was saying, house plants are pretty hot right now, and I for one am far from immune to their appeal. I’m lucky enough to have a home with windows, some of which get some decent light on occasion, so why not fill them up with some greenery? Unless you’re pulling some shady behavior sourcing your plants (snatching up endangered species or flipping them for exorbitant prices on Facebook), this seems to be a particularly harmless hobby; a good one, in fact. What makes it particularly fun for me is that all of my fellow plant-loving friends seem just as (in)experienced as myself, as prone to killing an unkillable cactus as we are to raising a Lowe’s-bought Pachira Aquatica to ceiling height. You figure it out as you go, you love your flowering plants for flowering unexpectedly and you say goodbye to that eighteen-dollar Venus Flytrap that lasted barely two weeks in the window… all necessary steps in our botanical journeys. In my personal quest, a crucial step involved taking a trip out to Ott’s Exotic Plants in the bucolic, not-too-many-Trump-sign-bespeckled town of Schwenksville, PA. It’s a locally-famous, family-owned spot with an unorthodox glass dome and rows upon rows of all sorts of plants, from your A-listers to your has-beens. After thawing myself out of the paralysis that comes from an overabundance of choices, I snagged a Tillandsea Cyanea for a reasonable eleven dollars. Been loving it ever since!
These Ecuadorian plants are generally sold with the big pink quill already fully formed, which beats having to wait two or three years for it to sprout. Kind of Stegosaurian in appearance, it was small enough to fill the final open spot in my south-facing window, housed in a small hexagonal pot roughly the size of a shot glass. Sun is reasonably good there, and I water it once or twice a week (though who are we kidding, probably once a week at best), and it’s been thriving. The green leaves are stiff and plastic-like in the accepted bromeliad fashion, and have been growing nicely, in spite of (or perhaps due to) my lack of a strict watering regimen. Attractive though easily ignored, you can imagine my elation when I first noticed bright, synthetic-looking flowers blooming from the quill! An electric purple, these little flowers upped my general mood every time I’d glance over at them, and they continued to sprout across the quill’s spine over the next few weeks. As expected, the quill itself started to slowly crumble a few months later, but I’m hoping it might pop up another one later this year. I may even try my hand at separating and re-potting one of “pups” that has already started to spring up in the wake of the quill’s passing, which the internet tells me is a safe thing to do. What if I became my neighborhood Tillandsia dealer, passing these cute lil’ guys out? Thank you for changing my life for the better, dear Tillandsia Cyanea plant.