Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - WITH DEBBI

BILL­BER­GIA nu­tans, com­monly known as Queen's tears, is an epi­phytic bromeliad na­tive to Brazil.

Its com­mon name is de­rived from the story that when touched or moved, drops of nec­tar fall from the flow­ers like tears.

It is also known as the "friend­ship plant", be­cause it is easy to split or di­vide and share amongst friends and fel­low gar­den­ers.

Queen's tears has tough. leather like, sil­very green leaves with toothed edges that grow in a rosette or vase for­ma­tion like most other bromeli­ads.

It grows to a height of around 50 cm and rapidly spreads form­ing a clump.

But the beauty of this plant is the rain­bow coloured flow­ers which ap­pear in late win­ter and early spring.

The pen­du­lous clus­ters of flow­ers grow on long pink stems and fea­ture pink bracts with blue and green curled back petals and long yel­low sta­mens.

The blooms will last for 6-8 weeks.

Queen's tears grow best in par­tial shade, es­pe­cially dur­ing the hot sum­mer.

Be­ing epi­phytic, it can be grown in the fork of a tree, planted in gar­den beds, in pots and hang­ing bas­kets.

It also does well in­doors with bright, in­di­rect light.

Grow in a well-drain­ing slightly acidic soil.

Use or­chid mix or bromeliad mix for plants in pots and con­tain­ers.

Be­cause it is shal­low rooted, Queen's tears takes the ma­jor­ity of its mois­ture from leaves, flow­ers and the air, so avoid soak­ing the base of the plant to pre­vent root rot.

They like high hu­mid­ity dur­ing the sum­mer months so mist the leaves daily and keep the cups filled with wa­ter.

Dur­ing spring and sum­mer fer­tilise with a di­luted, bal­anced, liq­uid fer­tiliser fort­nightly.

Although it has a short life span. in­di­vid­ual plants usu­ally last for three years; it can be di­vided to cre­ate new plants.

Off­sets or pups that grow from the base of the plant can also be sep­a­rated and re­pot­ted or planted.

The Queen's tears bromeliad is frost hardy and has no pest or dis­ease prob­lems.

Happy gar­den­ing.

with Debbi Gib­son, HORTICULTURALIST

Bill­ber­gia nu­tans, or Queen’s tears.

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