Botanical name: Billbergia spp
Queen's Tears is one of the easiest Bromeliads to grow. It is grown as a houseplant due to the beauty of the drooping showy flower-heads and its leathery, arching long grass-like leaves. The flower-head bracts are about 3 in. long and the leaves are 1 ft long and reddish under good light. The usual pattern for these Bromeliads is a rosette of leathery, strap-like foliage and flower-head which arises on a stalk from the cup-like center of rosette. The plant matures at the age of 2-3 years and flowers quite easily and the display may last several months. Once the flower-head fades, the rosette of leaves begins to die and is replaced by offsets at the base. The display of the flower-head is due to the presence of long-lasting showy bracts; true flowers are small and short-lived. These Queen's Tears Bromeliads are native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.
The most popular Billbergia Bromeliads is the Billbergia nutans Queen's Tears. Another of the Billbergia that is common is Billbergia windii which is larger, flowers-stalks are 18 in. long and foliage is grey-green.
Queen's Tears Bromeliads prefer bright light but away from direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Like with other rosette Bromeliads, Billbergia Bromeliads require the central 'vase' to be filled with water at all times. Empty and refill the 'vase' regularly to prevent growth of bacteria which may cause the water to become smelly. Use only chlorine-free water as they are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals that may be dissolved in water. Water the soil only when it dries to keep the roots moist; avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot. Allow good air circulation to prevent pests and disease infestation.
Average warmth with a minimum of 150C is ideal for Queen's Tears Bromeliads. To bring the plant to flower may require temperatures above 260C.
Queen's Tears Bromeliads require a humid enviroment. Employ these techniques to raise humidity. Allow good air circulation to prevent pests and disease infestation.
Feed Queen's Tears Bromeliads with a liquid fertilizer (foliar feed) once every month during the growing season. Do not feed during the cold season as growth is minimal.
Repotting Queen's Tears Bromeliads is not necessary as their roots are tiny and are unlikely to fill the pot. Pot these Bromeliads in a shallow heavy pot to prevent them from toppling over as they can become top-heavy. Also provide support to help keep it upright.
Pruning Queen's Tears Bromeliads involves removal of dead leaves to keep the plant neat and tidy and to allow adequate room for the new plants to grow. Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a clean knife or a pair of scissors.
Queen's Tears Bromeliads are propagated from offsets appearing at the base of the plant. When the offset is several months old, remove it with some roots attached and plant shallow in free-draining bark soil. Place the set up in a warm shaded place until the plant is well established. Ensure the plant is well supported; due to their small roots it may topple over. Pot in a shallow heavy pot.
Growing Queen's Tears Bromeliads where air is too dry will cause brown leaf tips. Employ these techniques to raise humidity.
Exposure to direct sunlight is the reason. Queen's Tears Bromeliad does not like to be exposed to direct sunlight. Protect it from direct sunlight or move it to a shadier spot.
Inadequate light for Queen's Tears Bromeliads is the cause of dark, soft, drooping, long leaves. Move it to a brighter spot; it prefers bright light but away from direct sunlight.
Root-rot Disease due to waterlogging is the reason if Queen's Tears Bromeliad has not flowered. If it has flowered then rotting and death of rosette which bore flower-stalk is natural to give room for the new plants. Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a clean knife or a pair of scissors.
Queen's Tears (Billbergia) Bromeliads are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors. However, the leaves bear short spines which may cause physical injury if handled with bare hands; always handle with gloves to prevent injury.