Among the most common to find of the bromeliad family, this native of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina grows well in many American homes.
It is capable of being grown on the side of another plant as a non-parasitic life form, or in a pot of soil on its own. Either way, it's roots always remain shallow and it takes the majority of its moisture from the leaves and flowers.
Due to its easy to split and share nature, Billbergia nutans is often called the Friendship plant. New shoots are produced multiple times a year, and the brilliant colors of the flower are always appreciated in plant lovers' homes. This plant has an average lifespan of three years.
How it looks: This shallow rooting plant produces long, tough leaves that have a leathery feel. Toothed edges are classic in the leaves, which remain a dark green throughout the plant's lifetime.
Flower bearing stems grow in pink, and produce clusters of flowers that are pink with blue and green segments. These flowers have elongated yellow stamens, giving the entire bloom a rainbow appearance.
Flowering: Encouraging the Queens tears plant to flower is not difficult. Most plants will flower without assistance in late March or early April. Blooms last for six to eight weeks. If your plant is proving stubborn, add one teaspoon of Epsom salts to their water supply for one month, and the blooms should appear.
|Origin:||South America .|
|Names:||Queens tears, friendship plant (common). Billbergia nutans (botanical/scientific).|
|Max Growth (approx):||Height 18 in/45 cm.|
|Poisonous for pets:||Non-toxic to cats and dogs.|
|Temperature:||This plant is picky about the temperature that it likes to live at. Depending on the season, your plant will demand different temperatures in order to maintain its health. In the summer, offer the plant a spot that is 65-80ºF (18-27ºC). In the fall, winter, and cooler spring months, the plant needs a 60-75ºF (16-24ºC) temperature. During the coldest winter, occasional periods can be withstood up to 40ºF (4ºC), but extended exposure will affect the coming year's bloom.|
|Light:||During the summer, provide partial shade to Billbergia nutans. At other times of the year, bright but indirect light is required for the plant's health. Full summer sunlight can destroy the flowers.|
|Watering:||Because of the shallow nature of the roots, the Queens tears gathers most of its moisture from the air and directly from the leaves and flowers. During the summer months, the leaves, flowers, and roots should be watered daily to keep them moist, but never soggy. Any flower cups pointing upward may be filled with water and allowed to sit. During the fall, winter, and cooler parts of spring, the plant should be misted every few days and watered enough to keep the soil just shy of dry.|
|Soil:||When grown as a house plant, this plant requires an orchid or bromeliad soil mixture. This can be simulated with a one part gardening soil to two parts perlite or tree bark mixture.|
|Re-Potting:||As this plant grows, it should be re-potted before flowering occurs, using a larger pot each time until the pot is 5 inches (12.5 cm) across.|
|Fertilizer:||During the summer months, offer this plant a balanced fertilizer once every other week. Flower cups can be filled with the fertilized liquid, and the leaves misted, as well as the soil watered. During other times of the year, reduce fertilization to once a month. Add a teaspoon of Epsom salts to the water of stubborn plants in early March for on-time blooms.|
|Humidity:||During the summer months, this plant demands a humid environment. Daily misting of the leaves and flowers will help this plant remain healthy and happy.|
|Propagation:||After flowering has occurred for the year, new shoots may be uprooted and broken off from the main plant. These can be transferred to their own pot, where they will take root over the course of a couple of weeks.|
Tip for a non-bloomer: For a plant that refuses to bloom, place it inside a plastic bag with an apple. Leave the bag in place for one week. The apple's ethylene gas will induce flowering 1 to 2 months after treatment.