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Products > Billbergia nutans
Billbergia nutans - Queen's Tears
Image of Billbergia nutans
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Bromeliaceae (Bromeliads)
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Green & Blue
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Billbergia nutans (Queen's Tears) - A vigorous growing bromeliad that is easy to cultivate and will readily form clumps of narrow upright bronzy-green rosettes. The nearly tubular 2 feet tall rosettes hold foot long slender leaves that have small teeth along the margins. In spring the arching flower stalks hold at their tips pink bracts and pendant flowers that have chartreuse green petals edged with royal-blue.

Plant in shade in a well-drained organic rich soil and water occasionally - for an epiphytic bromeliad this plant is surprisingly drought tolerant and can often be found surviving planted in the ground in shaded coastal California gardens that have received little or no irrigation but certainly the plants look better with a bit more water. It is reliably hardy to 30-32 degrees F but able to tolerate short duration temperatures much lower - this plant was only slightly damaged in our historic 1990 freeze at 18 degrees F and reportedly grows well in as cold of locations as Portland, Oregon and coastal Washington.

Billbergia nutans is native to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina where it grows both as an epiphyte in low trees and as a terrestrial on the forest floor from 2,300 to 3,000 feet elevation. The name of the genus honors the Swedish Gustaf (Gustave) Johan Billberg (1772-1844) who was a lawyer by profession and a self-trained botanist, zoologist, and anatomist and authored the Flora of Sweden. The specific epithet is Latin for nodding, in reference to the way the flowers are held in pendant clusters. Though commonly called "Queens Tear's" for the ornate hanging flowers with royal blue highlighting that often exude tear-like droplets of nectar, another common name is "Friendship Plant" which is attributed to this plant multiplying readily and propagating so easily that it is often passed between friends. We have grown this plant at San Marcos Growers since 1983 and also grow the variegated cultivar Billbergia nutans 'Santa Barbara. The image on this page courtesy of Santa Barbara landscape architect Billy Goodnick. 

This information about Billbergia nutans displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.