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Billbergia or Queen’s tears


Billbergia is a plant often grown indoors in cooler climates that is simply beautiful.

Billbergia key facts

Name – Billbergia nutans
Family – Bromeliaceae
Type – indoor plant

 – 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) indoors
Exposure – light but without direct light
Foliage – evergreen

Flowering – end of winter or summer

The name is a homage to Swedish botanist Gustav Johan Billberg. Native to South America, more specifically Brazil and Argentina, it’s grown for its leafage and superb blooming.

Planting and re-potting billbergia

Billbergia is a plant that requires soil that is sufficiently rich and well-drained to grow well. Special Bromeliaceae soil mix seems to be the best solution for your Queen’s tears.

  • Billbergia never grows far-reaching roots, which is why a small pot, about 4 inches (10 cm), is more than enough.
  • You will only need to repot when you want to split new shoots from the main plant.

Upon repotting your Billbergia

If you plan to repot your billbergia and separate new shoots from the mother plant.

  • Blue, green and pink billbergia flowerBillbergia roots hate having too much water.
    Double-check that the new pot has a hole in the bottom.
    Increase drainage with a layer of gravel or clay pebbles along the bottom of the pot, to make water flow through more easily.
  • Good soil mix is needed. Usually, stores offer special Bromeliaceae potting soil for sale, you can use that if possible.
    The plant, when it lives indoors, needs soil mix because that is the only source for the nutrients it needs.
  • Low but constant moisture levels must be maintained, which you can ensure if you spray the leaves often.
    You must rest the pot on a bed of gravel, rocks or clay marbles doused in water.

Best exposure for a billbergia plant

Billbergia requires temperatures that oscillate between 65 and 74°F (18 to 24°C) and never drop below 57°F (-13°C).

The temperature of a house or apartment is thus ideal for growing billbergia.

The best location for your billbergia is any spot where there isn’t any direct sun on the plant.

  • The billbergia can’t stand the sun’s rays when they touch its leaves directly.
    So the plant rejoices in adequate light but not direct sun.
  • Absolutely avoid setting it near heat sources such as radiators, because moisture is what this tropical plant needs most.
  • East or West-facing windows are thus usually the best call for your billbergia.

Watering and fertilizing for a Billbergia

Regular but moderate watering is called for because Billbergia doesn’t usually require a lot of water.

In spring and summer

Keep the soil mix a bit moist and check that water drains properly.

Provide liquid leaf plant fertilizer more or less once a month to extend the blooming to the maximum.

  • Water from above, ideally with water that is already at room temperature.
  • It’s ok to let water collect in the little funnel where the leaves meet the stem. This is called the rosette. A couple drops a day are enough.
  • Take care to dry this vulnerable spot whenever the temperature drops below 65°F (18°C).

To retain a certain moisture level, it is best to put the pot on a bed of clay pebbles wallowing in water.

In fall and winter

Reduce watering and wait for the soil to be thoroughly dry in the surface before watering again.
Stop adding fertilizer.

Diseases that are commonly found on billbergia

Most diseases targeted are the typical indoor plant diseases, red spider mite, scale insects, aphids and also powdery mildew.

  • If the color of the leaves turns pale, it is probably due to a lack of fertilizer.
  • If the inside leaves turn yellow or brown, it is probably due to too much watering.

Smart tip about Billbergia

A fabulous indoor plant, billbergia is native to tropical forests and is rendered vulnerable by the dry air in our homes.

Spraying the plant regularly and placing the pot atop a bed of wet gravel will help re-create the plant’s natural habitat.

Billbergia plants fear drafty spots.

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Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: Acer Hwang
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