Billbergia nutans (Queen’s tears/ Friendship Plant)- Care Information

Billbergia nutans (Queen’s tears/ Friendship Plant) - Care Information

Important: Please read carefully and keep for future reference

Bilbergias are evergreen perennials originating from Brazil and Argentina where they are often found growing on the trunks of trees or in the crevices of rocks. They can either grown epiphytically (without soil around the roots) or in conventional soil. They have strappy leaves and pendant pink, green and blue tubular flowers with yellow anthers. These are produced on and off throughout the year but flower best when conditions are warm.

Position: Billberigias require natural but indirect sunlight. They will scorch on a sunny windowsill. They are one of the hardiest bromeliads to grow in the UK and can survive temperatures below freezing for short periods as long as they are in a reasonably dry, sheltered location. They are usually grown as houseplants however but they can be put outside in summer. During the winter in a centrally heated house the air can become very dry. Most house plants will benefit from a daily spritz of water to increase humidity. This can be done with a small handheld spray bottle.

Watering: Water sparingly, particularly in winter as they do not like sitting in very wet compost.  In their natural habitat they can be found growing without their roots in soil on trees or rocks so are evolved to cope with low levels of water. Before watering test the moisture level of the compost with your finger. Water only when the surface of the compost is dry. If the plant is standing inside a container/ saucer without drainage holes ensure that there is no standing water in the bottom. It is a good idea to put some pebbles or grit in the bottom. Never plant into a pot without drainage holes. If you accidentally over-water the plant there will be no way for the water to drain away and this will kill it. We also suggest removing it every time you water and leave on a draining board or similar to drain thoroughly.

Feeding:  Feed monthly with a balanced liquid fertiliser such as liquid growmore or seaweed extract. A specialist orchid/bromeliad feed would also be suitable.

Potting on:  It is important not to over pot these plants as they do not like a lot of compost around the roots. Before you pot on turn the plant out of its current pot and inspect the rootball. If you can see lots of roots which have formed in the shape of the pot then it can be potted on but if not then leave it for a bit longer.  Do this between May and August when the plant is in active growth and not in winter when the growth rate will have slowed down.

Compost: Billbergias require a well-drained compost. You can buy ready-made bromelaid compost or make your own by mixing 1 part peat-based/ multi-purpose compost with 1 parts fine/ medium grade bark. If you have some you can also mix 50:50 Orchid Compost with peat based compost. This creates a mix with a nice open structure with good drainage.