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.
Billbergia nutans, or Queen’s tears.