Billbergia nutans 2Also known as friendship plant, this evergreen tender perennial is a bromeliad native of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay where it grows as an epiphyte in low trees and as well as on the forest floor at elevations of 2,300 to 3,000 feet. As an ornamental, it is usually grown as a houseplant. The leathery dark gray-green leaves form a two foot tall funnel shaped rosette. They are about twelve inches long and narrow and have toothed margins. The flowers are carried in arching racemes on pink stems with pink bracts. They have green petals, yellow stamens, and are topped by reflexed purple-edged green tepals. Flowers are produced in early spring and last six to eight weeks. The plant flowers best when pot bound but can be prodded into bloom with the application of one teaspoon of Epsom salts in their water for one month. The specific epithet, nutans, refers to the pendulous nature of the flowers; the common name friendship plant derives from their easy of separating offsets to give to friends. The roots are for anchorage and plants get their water and nutrients from rainfall and the air rather than from the soil. Although used to humid conditions with plenty of rainfall the plants are remarkably tough and can survive some neglect.

Type: Evergreen, tender perennial

billbergia nutans 4Bloom: Green and pink flowers tipped with purple in arching racemes in early spring.

Size: 24” H x 24” W

Light: Full sun to light shade

Soil: Rich in compost, moist

Fertilizer: Apply weak solution of balanced fertilizer weekly during spring and summer.

Hardiness: Zones: 10-11 (usually grown as houseplant)

Care: Remove dead flowers;

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division of offsets

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By Karen