Develop and Look after Queen’s Tears Bromeliads

Billbergia nutans

Tropical flowering queen’s tears is a non-parasitic epiphyte within the Bromeliaceae or bromeliad household.

Within the wild, it clings to timber or rocks, doing no hurt to its host, and nourishing itself with rain and airborne natural particles.

In gardens in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, it’s a ornamental decorative species. And for these elsewhere, B. nutans is an easy-care houseplant.

A vertical photo of a queen's tears plant with a bright pink bloom coming out of the center of the plant. Green and white text span the center and bottom of the frame.

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Our information to rising bromeliads affords a basic overview of cultivating numerous species at dwelling.

This text focuses particularly on rising and caring for queen’s tears.

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

Let’s meet this blossoming magnificence!

Cultivation and Historical past

Queen’s tears is native to the arid local weather of japanese coastal Mexico, Central America, most of South America, apart from Chile, southern Argentina, and the Windward Islands.

Along with being a rock- and tree-dwelling epiphyte, it grows on the organically-rich rainforest ground as a floor cowl.

A vertical photo of a queen's tears bromeliad growing outdoors against a large rock.
Picture by BotBln, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

Swedish botanist Carl Peter Thunberg, who educated below the famed father of taxonomical classification, Carl Linnaeus, named the Billbergia genus to honor the self-taught Swedish botanist Gustaf Johan Billberg. It accommodates 62 species.

B. nutans was acknowledged and named in 1869 by German botanists Wendland and von Regel. “Nutans” is Latin for nodding and refers back to the arching type of the foliage and inflorescences or flower-bearing stems.

A horizontal photo of a queen's tears bromeliad with several pink flowers emerging from the center stalk.
Picture by David J. Stang, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

There’s proof of the hybridization of queen’s tears relationship again to the Twenties.

In 1925, the American naturalist Theodore Luqueer Mead equipped the Brooklyn Botanic Backyard with a specimen of a hybrid he had cultivated by crossbreeding two Billbergia species, B. nutans and B. zebrina.

Queen’s tears has a clumping or tufting development behavior with stems that develop upright, forming a vase-like rosette.

As they mature, the stems arch outwards to create a waterfall-like cascade of strappy evergreen gray-green or variegated inexperienced leaves with serrated edges. Mature dimensions are 12 to 24 inches tall and broad.

A horizontal close up of a pink queen's tears bromeliad in bloom. The pink flower is centered in the frame with the green foliage out of focus behind it.

The flowers are borne on the terminal finish of an arching, vibrant pink inflorescence.

They’re inside pendant, vibrant pink bracts that open to disclose the blooms in all their regal glory. Recurved inexperienced, tubular petals sport royal blue margins, and are the inspiration for crowning this species a queen.

Distinguished stamens laden with wealthy yellow pollen full the majestic show, standing to consideration protruding from the middle of the flowers. Nectar sacs launch glistening, sticky droplets when jostled and are Her Majesty’s “tears.”

At roughly 18 to 30 months of age, a bromeliad is mature sufficient to flower.

Every flower lasts a month or extra, and after it fades, the connected foliage dies six to 12 months later. Bromeliads bloom randomly all year long, with new offsets regularly changing previous post-bloom vegetation.

B. nutans is a water-wise species with excessive drought tolerance. As a result of it’s native to arid climes, it has two distinctive strategies of conserving water.

The primary technique is through is CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) photosynthesis, during which the leaf “stomata” or fuel alternate openings stay closed through the day to control moisture and open at night time to launch oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.

As well as, the foliage has hair-like trichomes that help in retaining moisture absorbed by way of the leaves.

A horizontal close up of a Billibergia nutans shot from above growing in a garden.
Picture by David J. Stang, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

In contrast to bromeliads that function flattened, outstanding water reservoirs within the heart of the rosette, the grassy, vase-like foliage of queen’s tears doesn’t have water wells, though chances are you’ll learn info on the contrary.

Watering the soil when the highest inch is dry is all gardeners have to do to make sure ample moisture consumption.

A bonus of the absence of outstanding water reservoirs is that the foliage isn’t as interesting to mosquitoes.

Queen’s tears is unhazardous to individuals and pets and is often known as the “friendship plant” as a result of it’s simple to propagate and provides away, as we’ll focus on subsequent.

Queen’s Tears Propagation

To develop queen’s tears, you can begin with seeds, a division of an current plant, a bare-root rhizome, or a nursery potted specimen.

From Seed

Whereas it’s attainable to collect seeds from queen’s tears post-flowering, the seeds will not be viable or might produce traits totally different from the dad or mum plant.

Since these vegetation are usually not self-pollinating, you’ll want to make sure you have two specimens – and pollinate the flowers by hand in case you’re rising indoors.

As well as, seeds require floor sowing and germination on prime of moist, acidic potting medium and are liable to rotting.

By Division

As talked about, as soon as a mature clump of foliage finishes blooming, it’s only a matter of time earlier than the leafy tuft it sprang from dies.

And because of the offsets or “pups” that sprout beside the mature foliage, the plant continues to thrive.

Dividing is the method of eradicating a number of pups to begin new vegetation to maintain or give away.

The time to divide is when a pup is not less than one-third the dimensions of a dad or mum rosette.

For a potted specimen, unpot the plant and lay it on its aspect on newspaper or a tarp. Take away sufficient soil to see and really feel the place the pup is connected to the clump of foliage.

Use clear pruners or a backyard knife to slice down by way of the thick rhizome rootstock to sever the pup from the dad or mum. Ensure the separated pup or division is an entire, separate rosette with inexperienced leaves and roots connected.

Within the case of an in-ground plant, use a long-handled shovel to unearth the dad or mum plant with the connected pup, lay it on its aspect, take away soil as wanted, and sever the 2.

Replant or discard the dad or mum, because it has completed flowering.

Pot up or plant out the pup instantly, setting it simply deep sufficient in potting medium or backyard soil to carry it in place, with the crown roughly three-quarters of an inch to an inch under the rim of the pot. Moisten the soil, however keep away from oversaturation.

When you by accident sever the pup’s roots, dip its base into rooting hormone and set it into potting medium or backyard soil as described above. Use stones beside it for help if essential.

Present vibrant oblique daylight indoors and afternoon shade outside.

Study extra about propagating bromeliads through offsets in our information.


If you’re beginning with a bare-root rhizome, set it into potting soil simply deep sufficient for it to be self-supporting, as mentioned within the division part above.

To transplant a potted nursery specimen, be aware its depth within the authentic container and replicate it within the new one, backfilling firmly to carry the plant in place.

Develop Queen’s Tears

Queen’s tears requires vibrant, oblique daylight indoors that’s simply achieved by inserting it in proximity to a south- or east-facing window.

Keep away from inserting it in direct daylight as this may scorch the flowers and foliage. Outside, a setting that gives afternoon shade reduces the danger of solar scorch.

A horizontal close up of a billbergia nutans plant. A queen's tears flower is in sharp focus in the center of the frame with raindrops on the petals.

The best temperature is 70 to 80°F through the day and 65 to 70°F at night time.

The soil must be acidic, with a pH of between 5.0 and 6.0. As Billbergia species develop as each epiphytes and terrestrial floor covers, the soil you select can both be bark chips or a potting combine that’s loamy and wealthy in humus.

One of the best potting soil to make use of is one that’s unfastened and ethereal and drains quickly, like a cactus, palm, and citrus combine, reminiscent of this one from Miracle-Gro.

Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Potting Combine

Sand and perlite assist to make this product compaction-resistant and fast-draining for profitable bromeliad cultivation.

Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Potting Combine is obtainable through Amazon.

Fertilizer just isn’t essential, as these vegetation are usually not heavy feeders. When you select to feed, achieve this throughout lively summer time development, and use a product particularly formulated for bromeliads.

When you’re utilizing a granular product, water first and apply it to the soil, avoiding the foliage. Misting merchandise are utilized on to the foliage.

Miracle-Gro Orchid Plant Meals Mist is appropriate as a result of bromeliads and orchids share related cultural necessities and profit from foliar misting as a moisture supply.

Miracle-Gro Orchid Plant Meals Mist

Miracle-Gro Orchid Plant Meals Mist is obtainable through Amazon.

When you domesticate these vegetation indoors, try to keep up a humidity stage between 50 and 75 %.

To extend the ambient humidity, you’ll be able to mist the foliage and flowers and/or set the pot on a drip dish atop a single layer of pebbles in a pan of water that comes simply to the highest of the gravel base.

Don’t place the pot immediately on the pebbles with no drip dish to keep away from absorbing extra water.

Queen’s tears vegetation are genetically wired to outlive in arid circumstances. In case your water is tough or mineral-rich, depart it out in a single day to off-gas chemical compounds like chlorine.

Mineral-rich water might depart white spots on the foliage over time.

If the highest inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water. You may use a moisture meter to information you.

Moist the soil, however keep away from oversaturation.

Bear in mind, queen’s tears is water-wise and drought tolerant. Neglect is best than overgenerosity.

Rising Suggestions

  • Present vibrant oblique daylight indoors and afternoon shade outside.
  • Skip the fertilizer or use it sparingly.
  • If rising indoors, present 50 to 75 % humidity enhanced by misting or a mattress of moist stones beneath the drip dish as wanted.
  • Go away exhausting water out in a single day to keep away from watering-induced leaf discoloration.
  • Water when the highest inch of soil is dry.


Bear in mind to go away handled water out in a single day in an open vessel to disperse among the harsher chemical compounds and keep away from oversaturation, a nemesis of bromeliads and epiphytes.

A horizontal photo of a queen's tears bromeliad with several pink flowers growing in a terra cotta pot.
B. nutans with water-stained foliage. Picture by Dandarmkd, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

Per the New York Botanical Backyard, keep away from overfertilizing which might result in leggy stems and deform the signature rosette vase form.

Use clear pruners to take away spent flower inflorescences as near their base as you’ll be able to with out damaging neighboring foliage. Take away decaying post-bloom rosettes once they start to wilt.

In Zones 9 to 11, you’ll be able to depart vegetation outside year-round. You could even have the ability to take action in Zone 8, as vegetation can stand up to temporary intervals within the 20s and even the kids.

Present outside pots with winter insulation like a burlap wrap, and produce them near the home or indoors throughout chilly snaps.

Nevertheless, in case you are cultivating outside in Zone 8 and under, the place the temperature stays under the 30 to 32°F vary for prolonged intervals, you’ll have to deliver your pots indoors for the winter months.

And at last, when you must repot, select a container that’s not more than one-third bigger than the dimensions of the foundation ball. Shallow and comfortable is greatest. Keep away from overly deep vessels that maintain an excessive amount of water and promote fungal illness.

The place to Purchase

Classification of B. nutans is continually evolving. Some bromeliad consultants settle for B. nutans var. schimperiana and B. nutans var. striata as naturally occurring variants, whereas others lean extra towards classifying them as distinct species.

Variations amongst variants could also be delicate and detectable solely by educated eyes. And whilst you might by no means come throughout this info on a plant tag, aficionados might discover the trivialities of curiosity.

As well as, there are vegetation available on the market listed as cultivated kinds of B. nutans, like ‘Blondie,’ which may be a golden-leafed “sport” or randomly occurring pure variant of a very totally different sort of Billbergia.

There’s nonetheless a lot to study in regards to the Billbergia genus and the nutans species!

A recognized and accepted cultivar is B. nutans ‘Variegata,’ that has putting inexperienced foliage with cream margins.

A vertical close up of a queen's tears flower in focus in the center of the frame with the plant foliage out of focus in the background.

Queen’s Tears, B. nutans

You will discover a one-foot-tall queen’s tears plant in a one-gallon container obtainable from Walmart.

You can even discover seven- to 11-inch naked root rhizomes obtainable from TruBlu Provide through Amazon.

Managing Pests and Illness

Wholesome bromeliads in an excellent rising surroundings are usually not sometimes liable to pests or illness issues.

Nevertheless, there are just a few you must know.

Dry indoor environments might promote an infestation of:

Use insecticidal, fungicidal neem oil to deal with affected foliage.

Overly moist circumstances, poor air circulation, and/or poorly draining soil might invite fungal illnesses, together with:

  • Crown and Root Rot
  • Leaf Spot
  • Rust

Crown and root rot caught early could also be reversible. Signs embody a foul odor, mushy brown discoloration on the base, and unfastened leaves.

Unpot the plant and rinse the soil from the roots. Take away all discolored, mushy, malodorous roots and foliage.

Spray the remaining roots with a mix of 1 half hydrogen peroxide blended with two elements water. Permit the roots to dry fully earlier than repotting.

Sanitize the container by spraying the within with the identical resolution, letting it sit for half-hour to disinfect, and rinsing it fully earlier than use.

Repot with contemporary potting medium.

For leaf spot, take away severely affected foliage and deal with the remaining leaves with fungicidal neem oil.

And within the case of rust, you’ll additionally have to take away the affected foliage.

Remedy is difficult as a result of many forms of rust are fungicide resistant, and the cruel chemical compounds required are geared extra towards business growers than dwelling gardeners.

Avoiding these points with good cultivation practices is extra probably to achieve success than therapy.

Finest Makes use of for Queen’s Tears

Queen’s tears is an attention grabbing floor cowl with fountains of foliage and arching blossom inflorescences. It fills in densely as new pups take the place of previous rosettes.

A horizontal shot of a garden border with queen's tears bromeliads growing along the edge of the border.
Picture by David J. Stang, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

Container gardening is good for climates not conducive to overwintering outside, as vegetation can spend the summer time outside within the contemporary air and return to the home for the chilly months of the 12 months.

And for individuals who favor to develop it indoors year-round, B. nutans is an easy-care houseplant that requires vibrant oblique daylight and occasional watering to maintain it completely satisfied.

To show in a pot, select one which hangs or stands on a pedestal to point out the cascading tendrils of flowers and foliage to greatest benefit.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Perennial epiphyte Flower / Foliage Coloration: Blue, inexperienced, pink bract/gray-green or variegated inexperienced
Native to: Components of Central and South America, Mexico, Windward Islands Upkeep: Low
Hardiness (USDA Zone): Sept. 11 Tolerance: Drought, shade
Bloom Time: Monocot/evergreen Soil Sort: Loamy humus, bark
Publicity: Half shade (outside), vibrant oblique daylight (indoors) Soil pH: 5.0-6.0
Time to Maturity: 18-30 months Soil Drainage: Effectively-draining
Spacing: 18-24 inches Attracts: Butterflies, hummingbirds
Planting Depth: Floor sow (seed), similar depth authentic container (transplants) Makes use of: Container, floor cowl, houseplant
Peak: 12-24 inches Order: Poales
Unfold: 12-24 inches Household: Bromeliaceae
Water Wants: Low Genus: Billbergia
Widespread Pests and Ailments: Mealybugs, scale, whiteflies; crown and root rot, leaf spot, rust Species: Nutans

The Queen of the Bromeliads

Now that you know the way to develop and care in your personal queen’s tears plant, all that’s left is to determine in case you can develop it outside in your location, plan to offer it summers al fresco, or intend to maintain it indoors year-round.

A horizontal close up photo of a queen's tears bromeliad with a bright pink and purple striped bloom.

Provide moisture sparingly, misting the foliage and flowers to extend the ambient humidity as wanted and watering when the highest inch of soil is dry.

To help moisture storage and photosynthesis, attempt to preserve a rising surroundings with temperatures of 70 to 80°F through the day and 65° to 70°F at night time.

With greatest practices, your queen will certainly be the shining star of the realm in any backyard or houseplant setting.

Do you develop Billbergia nutans? What recommendation are you able to share within the feedback part under?

When you discovered this information useful and need to learn extra about rising epiphytic houseplants, try these guides subsequent:

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