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Why bromeliads are a great plant for growing indoors

Queen’s Tears delicate, drooping cluster of flowers. | Photo Ron Patterson
The bromeliads are a group of tough plants that do quite well indoors. Many are epiphytic, meaning that they live on other plants, but do not get their nutrients from that support plant like a parasitic plant does. Because epiphytes do not have roots in the soil and they do not get their water and nutrients from the support plant, they are typically found in areas of higher rainfall. But there are some that are found in desert climates as well. Orchids, pineapples, and Spanish moss are examples of the wide diversity of the bromeliad family.
Fortunately, the group we refer to as bromeliads can also be grown in loose potting soil or orchid medium.
One of my favorite bromeliads is the Queen’s Tears (Billbergia nutans). It blooms in December every year at my house. The delicate, drooping flower clusters have pink bracts, pink, green and blue sepals, green petals with blue stripes, and bright yellow pollen on the anthers. The leaves are narrower than you find in most other bromeliads. One drawback is that the blooming season is quite short, but it is easy to care for and worth the patience for the next year’s blooms.
Queen’s Tears thrive on neglect. They get by with watering every two or three weeks—or even longer. It is best to water from above as their natural way to collect water is to catch it in the cups formed by the crown of leaves. Since they do better with a higher humidity than our Eastern Idaho homes provide, a pebble tray or weekly misting is a good practice, but not necessary. A balanced house plant fertilizer applied four times during the summer season is adequate.
Once a crown has bloomed it will die, but several pups (new baby plants) are formed each year, and they will bloom within a couple of years.
Queen’s Tears are easy to propagate. Once pups are formed the plant can be taken out of the pot and the pups separated with a sharp knife or hand pruners. It may take a couple of years for them to get to a blooming size.
You won’t find Queen’s Tears in the store very often because of the short blooming season. However, another name for then is the friendship plant because they are so easy to propagate. If you have a friend with a Queen’s Tears plant, consider getting a pup from them and grow your own.
Interesting note: pineapple is the only bromeliad that produces edible fruit.
The post Why bromeliads are a great plant for growing indoors appeared first on East Idaho News.

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