Billbergia - Bromeliaceae - How to care for and grow Billbergia plants

Billbergia - Bromeliaceae - How to care for and grow Billbergia plants



The Billbergia they are beautiful bromeliads, very popular and widespread in apartments, thanks to the ease of cultivation and their generous blooms.






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons


: Commelinoids











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genreBillbergia belongs to the large family ofBromeliaceaeand includes numerous species, especially epiphytes, but terrestrial species are also found.

These are plants originating mainly from Brazil but numerous species are also found in Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, including Ecuador and Peru from sea level and up to 5000 m.

There Billbergia it is characterized by intense green leaves with an elongated and narrow shape, provided with numerous very small thorns, arranged along the margins. The leaves are arranged to form the classic central rosette or well where rainwater is collected in nature and used by the plant as a water reserve.

The flowers are carried by long stiff or folded stems, protected by bracts of various colors depending on the species and variety, gathered in mostly pendulous racemes. Not even though they do not have a long duration they are splendid.


There are about 50 species in the genusBillbergia among which we remember:


There Billbergia nutans it is an evergreen plant native to several countries of South America (Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina) which does not reach large dimensions, not exceeding 50 cm in height.

It has the typical leaves of the genus, about 50 cm long, narrow, with thorny margins and for a long stretch erect, with the tips that extend outwards forming the classic "central rosette of leaves" typical of bromeliads.

The bell-shaped flowers are gathered in racemes and emerge from pink bracts, characterized, the inner ones by green petals edged with blue while the remaining ones, by petals of reddish color or variously streaked with green and blue.


There billbergia pyramidalis it is a smaller species than the previous one, in fact it does not exceed 40 cm in height. It is characterized by leaves about 30 cm long and 2 cm wide, arranged to form the classic central rosette.

It forms a particularly beautiful flower as it is characterized by a white stem that ends with two bright red bracts from which the carmine colored flowers with violet edges emerge.


There Billbergia saundersii It is a plant characterized by bright green leaves, narrow and pointed, with reddish margins and with transversal stripes of a lighter color streaked with red and yellow. It forms flowers gathered in racemes of yellow color in their basal part, purplish starting from the center and up to the tips that curve outwards.


There Billbergia zebrina it is among the different species the one that reaches the largest size. The flowers are carried by a rosette up to 90 cm long with bright red or dark green leaves with transversal silver-colored streaks. The leaves are covered with white scales with thorny margins. The flowers are orange with green-edged inner petals.


There Billbergia it is not a particularly difficult species to cultivate.

It prefers bright locations, even in full sun but not in the hottest hours of the day and with temperatures between 10 ° C and 30 ° C. The highest temperatures are important during the spring - summer period (21-30 ° C).

The ideal would be night temperatures around 10-18 ° C and daytime temperatures of 21-30 ° C with a temperature difference between day and night of 10-15 ° C which favors lush growth and flowering.

Among the different species, the Billbergia nutans it is the one that has lower temperature requirements than the others, therefore in mild climate areas it can be successfully grown outdoors, as long as it is in a position sheltered from direct sunlight during the hours of greatest sunshine.

They are plants that love the light (from 3000 to 5000 lux) which they need in order to give a beautiful flowering but beware of direct sun which can burn the leaves and cause the plant to die.

They love the air so it is important that, if raised in an apartment, excellent ventilation is guaranteed, avoiding cold air currents that are not welcome.

They are plants that can be grown in pots or on bark or cork, as typical epiphytes.


There Billbergia it loves humid environments and must be watered as soon as the soil on the surface dries up, without exceeding it, as it does not tolerate in any way asphyxiated soils saturated with humidity.

It would be advisable to use non-calcareous water, preferably slightly acidic.

It loves humid environments therefore it is necessary to spray the leaves regularly, especially during the summer and keep the pot over a saucer filled with water, making sure that the bottom is not in contact with water. This arrangement will maintain a humid microclimate around the plant as a result of constant evaporation.

Be careful not to leave water stagnant in the saucer which can cause the roots to rot.

In the rosette of leaves, where possible, there must always be water, possibly not calcareous, which must be completely renewed once a week.


The type of soil to be used for repotting theBillbergia it is light, not calcareous, tendentially acidic, made up of a mixture of peat, bark shavings, perlite or vermiculite, all in equal parts.

The vase does not have to be large but only a little larger than the previous one.

We recommend the use of terracotta pots which, compared to plastic ones, allow the soil to breathe and therefore correct any watering errors.


To fertilize the Billbergia a liquid fertilizer is used that will be diluted in the watering water, every 30 days starting from spring and throughout the summer, halving the doses compared to what is reported in the package.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc ( Zn), boron (B), polybdenum (Mo), all important for proper plant growth.


We should not be alarmed if, possessing this splendid plant for a short time, we realize that after having given us a splendid flowering, theBillbergia dies. This is normal as in the meantime numerous suckers will have grown at the base of the plant which will replace the mother plant.


The plant of Billbergia it cannot be pruned; only the leaves that gradually dry up are eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the plant tissues.


There Billbergia it multiplies either by suckers or by seed. Seed multiplication is generally not recommended as it is a lengthy process and takes many years for the plant to flower.


The numerous suckers that form at the base of the plant can be taken. This operation must be carried out in late spring by taking the shoots that have reached a length of about half or a third of the mother plant, with all their roots. Each sucker must therefore be placed in a single pot in a compost soil as indicated in the paragraph "Repotting" and the young plant is treated as if it were an adult. These suckers bloom within 1-3 years.


The multiplication by seeds can be done by taking the fresh seeds (as the old ones have a low germinability) as soon as they are formed, planting them in a compote for seeds. A thin layer of fine sand is then spread which remains constantly humid. It is preferable to use a nebulizer for watering as it allows you to better dose and distribute the water.

The seed tray should be covered with a clear plastic sheet or glass plate to ensure a constant temperature and prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.

The tray is kept in the shade, at a temperature around 24-26 ° C and constantly humid until the moment of germination. At that point the plastic sheet is removed and the quantity of light (never direct sun) is increased as the plants grow, and good ventilation is ensured.

When the young plants are large enough to be handled, they must be transplanted, taking great care not to damage the roots (for example, use a fork to remove the seedling from the soil), in a soil as indicated for adult plants and are treated As such.


The leaves die for no apparent reason

The main cause of this symptom in Billbergia can be too cold an environment or excessive watering.
Remedies: analyze how you have grown the plant up to that moment according to the indications given in this sheet and adjust accordingly.

The leaves are burned

This symptom is due to direct exposure to sunlight.
Remedies: remove the plant from direct sun and place it in a bright position but away from direct sunlight.

Brown spots on the leaves

Brown spots on the leaves, especially on the underside, could mean that you are in the presence of scale insects, brown scale or floury scale. To be sure, it is recommended to use a magnifying glass and observe them. Compare them with the photos shown, they are characteristics, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap by rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant must be rinsed very well to eliminate everything the soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.

Leaves that begin to turn yellow and appear mottled with yellow and brown

If the leaves begin to turn yellow and after these events crumple, take on an almost dusty appearance and fall, you are almost certainly in the presence of an infestation due to the red spider mite, a very annoying and harmful mite. By observing carefully you will also notice thin cobwebs especially on the underside of the leaves.

Remedies: increase the frequency of nebulizations to the canopy as a humid environment is generally sufficient to eliminate them.You can also try to clean the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using a wet and soapy cotton ball. After which the plant must be rinsed very well to remove the soap.Only in the case of particularly serious infestations, it is advisable to use a specific acaricide and being careful not to let the pesticide go into the rosette of leaves.


The common name by which this species is called is angel's tear.

The genre Billbergia it owes its name to Gustav Johann Billberg (1772-1844), a Swedish botanist.

Billbergia cultivation

There Billbergia it is an ornamental indoor plant appreciated for the beauty of its foliage, for its very decorative flowers and because it does not require care.

  • Features Billbergia
  • Flowering Billbergia
  • Billbergia cultivation
  • Exposure
  • Ground
  • Watering
  • Fertilization
  • Multiplication Billbergia
  • Multiplication by seed
  • Multiplication by division of the tufts or suckers
  • Repotting Billbergia
  • Billbergia pruning
  • Pests and diseases of Billbergia
  • Cures and treatments
  • Variety of Billbergia
  • Billbergia nutans or Angel's Tear
  • Billbergia pyramidalis
  • Billbergia saundersii
  • Photo gallery Billbergia

Aerial bromeliads

Some specimens of Bromeliads grow in one particular aerial form, their particularity is that of not needing land to vegetate.

These plants, belonging to the group of Tillandsia, in nature they grow leaning on branches, electric wires or easily climb rocks. To have a captivating scenic effect it is possible place these plants directly on top of a bromeliad tree, alternatively similar effects are obtained by using shells, baskets or any other container or surface.

As for the care of aerial species we advise you to spray the plant regularly, especially in the spring months and until the beginning of autumn, it is in fact the only way in which these plants can receive the right amount of moisture useful for their survival. It's important add the sprayed water with liquid fertilizer to be sprayed at least every two weeks, particularly during the growing period.

Belonging to the family of Bromeliaceae, the Billbergia, also known as angel's tear, is an extremely simple plant to grow. In its natural habitat, in South America, it can be easily "found" suspended on the trees. It has a significant feature: if allowed to multiply, each "vase" will tend to produce different inflorescences of different colors at the same time.

The plant and the varieties

Exotic plant, its long and narrow leaves form beautiful and thorny tubular washers, which in some varieties may appear slightly speckled, streaked or variegated, with shades from green to grey green. The flowers are collected in falling ears and arched and are not very long-lived: the bracts appear pink or red, while the petals are of a mixed color between blue and green.

The Nutans variety is easy to grow and produces beautiful multicolored flowers.

The most appreciated and cultivated variety is the Billbergia nutans, known for its adaptability of cultivation and for its leaves narrow and green which can reach a length of 30 cm. There Billbergia zebrina, on the other hand, it is distinguished by a foliage streaked with silver and by rather yellow inflorescences, surrounded by large pink bracts.



We choose a location protected from frost and with a minimum guaranteed temperature that does not drop at least below 5 ° C. Some varieties appreciate the full sun, but in summer it is better to move them to a sheltered place in a fairly shady place.

Type of terrain

A normal one can do blend from a well drained pot, better if poor and not exaggeratedly fed.


We do not water too much, but it is always good to keep some water in the saucer. We spray the foliage regularly.


It is not very necessary, although you can choose to add some liquid fertilizer during the growing season.


It propagates from suckers older plants, better if these are taken in winter months.


By division of the tufts in spring, at a temperature of about 21 ° C, taking care to keep the soil slightly moist and nebulizing the leaves. Billbergias can also be reproduced by planting rooted suckers (usually in June) that have reached half the size of an adult plant. In this case, the cutting surfaces must be allowed to dry for two days and only after planting the suckers not in depth and supporting them with pegs that are kept until they are well rooted.

Billbergia - Bromeliaceae - How to care for and grow Billbergia plants

The Orchid
Orchids and Carnivorous Plants

Bromeliads are a group of plants belonging to the class of monocotyledons, to the subclass of Liliidae and to the order of Bromeliales of which they represent the only family: the Bromeliaceae.
These plants require the same environmental conditions as orchids and are therefore easy to find in the greenhouses of both amateur and professional orchidophiles who often keep them to give a touch of tropical forest to the greenhouse.
As a botanical curiosity it can be added that bromeliads belong to the same class and subclass to which the Orchidaceae family belongs, so they are also quite close to the latter phylogenetically speaking.
Bromeliaceae are plants that populate the American tropical zone and are epiphytes and xerophytes, i.e. they grow using other plants (epiphytes) as support and are adapted to any rather dry climates (xerophytes). They absorb water from particular scaly hairs present on the leaves.
Bromeliads are also used in human nutrition - pineapple.

For convenience it is advisable to divide the genus Tillandsia from the other Bromeliads.

The Tillandsia
They generally live there by supporting themselves on the branches of trees, are adapted to dry climates and derive their nourishment from the air or from the rotting substances that accumulate on the branches of the trees. In particular, they need good quantities of a particular micro element: copper. In Latin America they grow on the threads of light that are precisely made of this material (especially the Tillandsia usneoides or friars beard).
The latter is a plant with the appearance of a lichen: it has undergone a strong reduction in its parts, is rootless and grows in length. The leaves are fleshy, the flowers are very small and green in color.
The other plants of the genus Tillandsia have a root system that allows them to attach themselves to the substrate, the leaves are usually more developed and have a generally hard consistency. The often spectacularly colored flowers are larger in size than the usneoides.

The cultivation of these plants is quite simple: in the climates of Liguria and southern Italy they can be grown outdoors, watering them once every three or four days, preventing water stagnation. At home they can be hung in front of a bright window away from heat sources such as stoves, fireplaces and radiators. Watering will always be scarce.

In tropical terrariums they must be positioned in the upper floors at a distance of 25-30 cm from the light sources, bearing in mind that in environments with high relative humidity watering should be limited if not completely abolished.
But above all, water stagnation at the level of the substrate on which they rest must be avoided: logs, stones, etc.
The other bromeliads that are commonly used in floral compositions or in tropical terrariums can be easily grown at home by placing them in a cool position, away from heat sources, in medium light, keeping the compost fairly moist.

In terrariums they can be grown both stuck in the trunks with a little substrate, and on the bottom, they require a fresh and humid substrate: a peaty mixture will do well. In a paludarium, it will be better to keep them in a higher area of ​​the bottom so as not to keep the roots always immersed in water.
They require a brightness lower than that necessary for plants of the genus Tillandsia.

Genus of perennial plants belonging to the Bromeliaceae family distributed from the Antilles to South America
They are mainly epiphytic plants with the characteristic of forming a rosette of linear and glossy leaves that retains water.
Sizes range from 20cm. in the smaller species up to 1 m. in the larger ones.
The inflorescence is made up of bracts colored in orange, red and real, tubular, white or yellow flowers. The flowers are ephemeral, while the bracts can last several months.

Guzmania devansayana

The leaves reach 60 cm. streaked with red. The flowers are white and the bracts bright red.

Guzmania lingulata

One of the most common species: the ribbon-like leaves are green on the upper side and reddish on the underside. They are up to 45 cm long. The inflorescence is carried by a 20-30 cm stem. the flowers are white and the bracts bright red.

Guzmania sanguinea

Species with lanceolate leaves, green suffused with red and yellow, form a rosette with a central inflorescence composed of white or yellow flowers, the bracts are red.

Cultivation: They need a warm humid climate, the substrate is made up of peat, acid earth, and sand in equal parts. They are ideal plants for cultivation in Dendrobates terrariums where in addition to playing a decorative role, they provide a reserve of water in the axil of the leaves that can be used by frogs to raise their offspring.

It multiplies by division of the basal shoots which will be detached after rooting.

Perennial plants belonging to the Bromeliaceae family. Many species grow as epiphytes, others on the ground. They are native to Central and South America.
The leaves are arranged in a rosette, rigid, with a sometimes thorny edge. The flowers are enclosed by often very colorful bracts. The flower stem is long and can be rigid or drooping.

It comes from Brazil. It reaches a height of 50 cm. The leaves are dark green with a thorny margin. The flowers are green edged with blue with pink bracts.

Height 30 cm. The large leaves are arranged in a rosette. The flowers are red wrapped in pink bracts.

Cultivation: They require an intermediate greenhouse, with temperatures between 12.5 and 19 ° C. They require medium light, they are penumbra plants.
The substrate must be light and acidic.
They are plants that require high humidity and abundant watering, filling the axils of the leaves as for Guzmania.
They multiply by division of the tufts.

Plants belonging to the Bromeliaceae family from tropical America, very similar to the Aregelia genus: the differences mainly consist in the shape of the inflorescence which in the Nidularium genus is paniculate while in Aregelia it is racemosa.

It was introduced in Europe from Brazil in 1854, has dark green leaves, shiny, arranged in a rosette, very arched and with serrated edges. In the center, the inflorescence is formed consisting of bright red bracts and blue-violet flowers.

Plants taller than the previous species (about 30-40 cm), the leaves are collected in a rosette, are linear and serrated on the margins, the upper page is spotted with purple, while the lower one is red. The bracts of the inflorescence are red.
The substrate to be used is of the same type as that used for the other Bromeliaceae: acid earth, peat and fine sand. The multiplication is obtained from the separation of the shoots that form at the base of the mother plant, they must be allowed to dry for a few days before planting them definitively in a jar.

Like the other Bromeliads, this genus also needs high humidity, watering will be abundant, filling the axils of the leaves with water.

Plants belonging to the Bromeliaceae family originating from Brazil and Peru. The genus includes about twenty species and fifteen hybrids.

The Caroline tricolor variety takes on particularly striking colors during flowering: the leaves are arranged in a rosette, bright green with shades of ivory and carmine red.
The inflorescence is purple-purple streaked with white with bright red bracts.
The growing medium must be of acid earth mixed with peat and sand.
The cultivation requests are the same as for the other Bromeliaceae.

Bromeliad originally from Brazil considered today the only species of the genus, the different plants belonging to the genus Cryptanthus are considered a variation of it.

In the country of origin it is also called the terrestrial star due to its shape. The leaves, thick and rigid, are arranged in a rosette and, being rather narrow, take on a star shape. The leaf margin is often interrupted by thorns, the color is very variable, the most common variety has a green leaf streaked with red or yellow. In other varieties the background can be green and the lines can be transversal and blurred.
The flowers are flower heads hidden by the bracts, on the whole inconspicuous in comparison with the other Bromeliaceae.
Cryptanthus is cultivated for the beauty of its foliage and the environmental resistance it demonstrates. In terrarium with Dendrobates it reacts very well and lasts a long time. It likes a light soil composed of leaf earth, peat and fine sand. Watering must be abundant in the period of vegetative development.
They like a very bright location, the more colorful varieties keep the color of the leaves better in the presence of a lot of light.

Genus of plants belonging to the Bromeliaceae family, does not include many species, the best known is Hoenbergia augusta.
The flowers are grouped in the terminal portion of a long stem, the inflorescence assumes a conical shape. The leaves are arranged in a canalicular rosette, lanceolate, with a thorny margin. The color is ash green speckled with a darker green.
The substrate will need to be light, a mixture of peat sand and acid earth will do. They require a lot of atmospheric humidity and watering must be sufficient to keep the soil moist. They do not require bright light.

Billbergia - Bromeliaceae - How to care for and grow Billbergia plants

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