Billbergia nutans, also known as 'Queen's-Tears' is an epiphytic bromeliad, native to the regions of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Another common name of this popular bromeliad is 'friendship plant'. It is one of the most common bromeliads that is grown as a houseplant. What makes this houseplant so popular is its striking inflorescence. This epiphytic bromeliad is a relative of the pineapple plant.
Billbergia nutans can grow up to a height of 12 inch, with narrow and olive green-colored foliage. It is a perennial plant that looks quite similar to the fountain-shaped grass until it blooms. The flowers are usually green or blue in color, and they bear yellow-colored pollen. They appear in red flower stalks, and their bracts are pink in color. This epiphytic plant is characterized by hanging flower stems. The inflorescence is quite colorful and eye-catching. This plant can bloom at any time of the year, and its flowers can last for a few weeks.
Caring for Billbergia
It is a hardy plant that needs a little care and maintenance. In fact, this plant can survive despite being neglected for a period of time. This epiphytic plant grows well in bright, but indirect sunlight, and hence, they can be grown in a partially- shaded area. The plant can be propagated from the offset once the blooming period is over. Being an epiphytic plant, it prefers a high level of humidity and good air circulation.
This bromeliad can be grown in any well-drained soil. Usually, the plant does well in sandy loam soil, provided the soil is neutral or slightly acidic. In general, a soil mix consisting of 3 parts peat moss, 2 parts sand, and 1 part loam is considered ideal for growing this bromeliad.
While watering the plant, always bear in mind that its roots should be kept moist, but not wet. So, do not let the root to sit in water. Allow the soil to dry before watering, and water the plant at its center. The rosette of leaves forms a central reservoir, and this reservoir should contain water all the time.
As far as fertilization is concerned, the epiphytic plants like billbergia can be fertilized with a water-soluble fertilizer. Light feeding is sufficient to encourage the healthy growth of this plant. In hot and dry conditions, the leaves of this plant can turn brown, which however can be avoided by misting the leaves with water. Misting helps increase the level of humidity.
Billbergia blooms when it reaches maturity. However, many gardeners adopts the technique of covering the plant in a plastic bag with an apple in it, to promote early blooming. Ripe apples release the gas ethylene, which promotes blooming in bromeliads.
This bromeliad can be grown either as a groundcover or in containers or hanging baskets. It can also be grown in trees, and for this, the root of the plant has to be covered or wrapped in leaf mold and sphagnum moss. Billbergia is quite vulnerable to scales, which should be kept in mind by anyone considering to grow this houseplant. As the plant grows, you can observe bromeliad pups or offsets growing at its base. These offsets can be removed after the blooming period to grow new plants.