You Can Grow Queen’s Tears Easily – Without Shedding Tears

Billbergia nutans AMAP 1600237

Queen’s tears has charming blooms with a stunning combo of colors.

Blooming in my garden right now is the charming queen’s tears, (Billbergia nutans). Native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina, the plant is an is an epiphytic member of the bromeliad (bro-meal-ee-ad) family.  Pineapples are also in this family.

bromeliad block botanic garden TPIE 1609436

This bromeliad was visited by a friendly lizard looking for an insect snack. Photo taken at Block Botanic Garden.

Let me define the term.  Epihytic means that the plant lives epi (upon) phytic (plants), as opposed to living in soil. Think of it as a plant that perches on other plants.  It is not parasitic, it does not steal anything from the plant it lives upon.

bromeliad growing bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609381

Here a number of bromeliads perch in pockets carved out of a rock, instead of perching on a plant.

Queen’s tears is easy to grow because it is used to perching on the trunks of trees high above the rainforest floor.

You Can Grow That

They are from a raiforest, but not wet rainy rainforest – instead, they come from seasonally dry rainforest.  Yhis means they are used to drying out every so often and grow just fine in our homes with lower relative humidity.  You can grow it either as a house plant or outdoors in part shade anytime it is above freezing. This plant is often used as an ornamental plant, and is probably one of the most common bromeliads grown.  It is a durable house plant because it can often withstand periods of neglect.

Billbergia nutans AMAP 1600235

Queens tears grows well outdoors in part shade.

Being epiphytic, bromeliads can grow almost anywhere – on the side of a tree or planted in the ground. They have few roots, just enough to anchor them. Thus, I plant them in succulent mix, with good drainage and low organic matter. Since they have few roots, you can top dress the soil with a layer of pretty aquarium gravel to help hold them up.

bromeliad growing bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609367

Bromeliads have a cup in the center of the swirl of leaves where you should add the water.

In the wild, when it rains, bromeliad cups fill with water. Thus when you water them, you need to get the water into their cups. If your city water is highly chlorinated consider letting a watering can of it sit out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate and use that to water.

billbergia bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609350

Billbergia in Florida.

Queens tears bloom in spring each year for me. There are two scientific varieties plus roughly 20 cultivars. Don’t be surprised if your plant looks different these pictured here.  Some of these pictures were taken on a recent tour of Bullis Bromeliads, in Florida, thanks to the FNGLA.

Billbergia poquito mas bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609384

Bilbergia ‘Poquito Mas’ at Bullis Bromiliads in Florida. It is just poquito mas (a little more) stunning that its little cousin.

bromeliad growing bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609385

Growing bromeliads is what they do at Bullis Bromeliads. Thousands and thousands of them.

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

© All photos in this article and all articles and are copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.



Categories: Flowers, Houseplant, You Can Grow That | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “You Can Grow Queen’s Tears Easily – Without Shedding Tears

  1. I love Billbergia! Beautiful plant inside or out! Inside in my case here in Michigan….

  2. Cathy Mesimer

    More of a question about these plants. Do they prefer sun or shade?

    • Gardening With Soule

      Hi Cathy
      These prefer shade in the Southwest.

      For more modern writing – please go to my active site:

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