Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweet on the Queen's Tears

About a year ago, I came across a photo online of a beautiful bloom. I read the caption, then read more about the plant sporting it. was a tropical, so I kind of dismissed it because finding certain tropicals in the north can be as much a waste of time as shoveling the snow while it's still snowing.

Just a few short weeks later, I attended the Fort Wayne Home and Garden Show, as I usually do each year. Making a bee line for the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory's booth, I was anxious to see what they had to offer for sale. They have great stuff and sometimes unusual plants, for quite reasonable prices.

I picked a couple of things out, paid for them, and had them hold them until I was ready to leave the show. As I was walking away to see what else was at the show, something caught my eye that I hadn't seen, somehow. It wasn't in bloom, but the stiff spears of foliage made me take a closer look. When I read the tag - Billbergia nutans or Queen's Tears - I couldn't believe it. This was the plant that I'd read about.

This one wasn't in bloom and wasn't exactly something that would warrant anything more than a passing glance. I'm not sure why I checked it out, but I snatched it right up and took it home with the rest of my treasures. It was bursting out of its small plastic pot, so much so that it was misshapen, so I made a mental note to repot it into something slightly larger when I got the time. I put it in the conservatory.

I forgot about the repotting, but it must not have minded, because it bloomed a few weeks later. It was as beautiful as I'd seen, even though it only had a couple of blooms.

Spring came and things got busy around here. The Billbergia finished blooming and I kept putting off the repotting. I left it in the conservatory for the summer, watering it as it needed. Soon it was fall and time to start loading up the conservatory with the tender plants that had enjoyed the summer outside. Still, the Billbergia was waiting for repotting, and I knew I couldn't put it off any longer.

Earlier this week, it rewarded me for giving it more room. There are eight shoots of blooms on it this year and I'm not sure it's done shooting them out yet. Normal time for them to bloom is mid-spring, so it's early. Last year, it bloomed in mid-April.

They're as beautiful as ever, as seen in the photos here. This plant, which is a terrestrial epiphyte, couldn't be easier to care for, in fact, it tends to thrive on neglect, I've found. It's also called Friendship Plant because it produces "pups," which can eventually be separated from the mother plant and potted up.

While they might be common in warmer climates, they aren't that easily found here where I live. Keep your eyes open and you might find one, too.

Billbergia nutans
Zone 9-11
Bright indirect light. If grown outside, keep in shade.


Terra said...

This is amazing; the mix of colors and the glow of the pink. I have not seen this plant here in California. It has a lovely common name, doesn't it?

Kylee Baumle said...

Terra ~ It does, doesn't it? And it got it because it will "weep" at times, at the ends of the blooms, usually when touched. This was the only time I'd ever seen it anywhere and I've not seen it since. I've read it makes a rather nice hanging plant, too, once it's mature.

Unknown said...

That is a truly lovely thing, Kylee. Just exquisite. Now i want one!
Hope you'll come join us at soon. We're coming along nicely but want as many as possible to join our community. Especially my friends. :-)

meemsnyc said...

Oh my, what an absolutely gorgeous plant bloom! I've never seen anything like that before. One to look out for!

Darla said...

Kylee, this plant loves,loves,loves to be root bound. I have huge one that has been in the some container for about 15 + years. I do pull out pups now and again for sharing. Very low water and the lizards love to live in it...

Jennifer said...

It is exquisite! I've never seen that...I will have to keep my eyes open, too. Of all of my houseplants, the ones I like best are the ones who don't care if I take care of them much. :)

NHGarden said...

Cool plant! I love it!

Kylee Baumle said...

Jodi ~ Oh, thank you for nudging me over there again! I went once, saw that I had to register and didn't have time right then, then I neglected to return to do it right. I'll do it NOW! :-)

meemsnyc ~ If you don't find it locally, Dave's Garden shows that there are five online vendors that sell it!

Darla ~ Isn't it funny how some plants like tight quarters like that? Now, I have a question for you. In researching its zone, I found such a wide variation. Many said 10 or higher, but my Encyclopedia of Tropical Plants says 8-11. What are your thoughts on it? I trust a source like ETP, but I also trust those who grow it and know. I've edited the zone to 9-11 as a compromise.

Jennifer ~ Those ARE the best, aren't they? :-)

Lona said...

Hi Kylee. I have never heard of this one. What a beauty it is. How would one even describe that complicated and lovely bloom.

FilipBlog said...

That's a very special flower, have never seen it before.


Darlene said...

That is so cool, I have never seen anything like it. I too always am on the look-out for the unusual. Last yr I found a plant called the Zee-Zee, it too is one that likes neglect. If you ever have an extra pup from your I would love you to send it to me. thanx DAR

Darlene said...

That is so cool, I have never seen anything like it. I too always am on the look-out for the unusual. Last yr I found a plant called the Zee-Zee, it too is one that likes neglect. If you ever have an extra pup from your I would love you to send it to me. thanx DAR

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