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 internal 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 surface soil dries up, without exceeding it, as it does not tolerate in any way asphyxiated and humid soils.

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 and tendentially acidic, made up of a mixture of peat, bark chips, 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 which 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 must 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 before the plant can 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, being very careful 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. 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 should 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 foliage 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.

Video: Billbergia nutans