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Beginner Houseplants: Re Billbergia Zebrina - Queen's Tears

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whozzat08
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 19, 2008
5:16 AM

Post #4681320

I purchased 2 plants from a catalog before we moved into this house. We have been here 12 yrs. I have looked in flower books for this type with no luck. (before Internet and DG) I haven't googled it yet, in fact I just thought about it.
The catalog only had, and still has, an artist illustration. Well, the ones I have look nothing like the picture. I have tried changing the locations (sunny/shade), soil (rich/poor, sandy/peat moss,dry/moist), pots (clay/plastic) They are in a 6" pot, The crown/top of the plant is small and healthy, the leaves long and straggly with a slight curl in the growth. It grows like a small airplane/spider plant in body, not compact at all. The illustration looks more like a celery.

Is anyone familiar with this plant? Any ideas to what I am doing wrong?
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

March 19, 2008
2:09 PM

Post #4681971

If you could post a picture that would really help--I imagine the care of this one isn't that different than other Billbergia species (I know there are people around here growing others) but it's much easier to tell what's wrong (if anything) with a plant if you can post a pic.

Here's a photo I found of yours on Google...doesn't show much of the leaves though http://botu07.bio.uu.nl/brom/images/list/bromel/Billbergia zebrina 96GR01181 d.jpg And here's a botanical illustration which shows the whole plant (doesn't look quite like your description of your other illustration though) http://botanicalartsocietyaustralia.com/Billbergia zebrina - D Bilderbeck-Frost.jpg

The description of your leaves doesn't seem to match with the B. zebrina pics that I found, so I suspect yours might be B. nutans instead, it can have very long leaves (and it's also much more commonly sold than B. zebrina) http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/168452/
whozzat08
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 19, 2008
6:18 PM

Post #4682924

Hope this helps

Thumbnail by whozzat08
Click the image for an enlarged view.

whozzat08
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 19, 2008
6:19 PM

Post #4682928

and ..

Thumbnail by whozzat08
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ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

March 19, 2008
6:57 PM

Post #4683056

From what I can see they look OK, don't see any signs of disease, overwatering, etc. Only thing I'm not sure about is why they're not fuller after you've had them for 12 yrs. I've never grown these, so I can't give you any specific advice on what they need, but if you check out the info about the other Billbergia species in Plant Files hopefully you'll find some helpful info there (even though your specific one isn't in PF, I think the care for the different species is likely to be similar)
whozzat08
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 19, 2008
7:56 PM

Post #4683213

yup. After 12 years of care is this all there is? It was a curiosity purchase. Thank you for the info
I have to go place them back up high. The cat seems to think I brought him new toys, he loves messing with the leaves.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

March 20, 2008
2:30 AM

Post #4684916

Has it ever bloomed? If not then maybe you need more fertilizer, more light, something along those lines. I'm not at all familiar with the species you have so it's possible that it never gets really full looking like the other ones, but if it hasn't bloomed for you in 12 years then that's a clue that something's not quite ideal in the conditions you're giving it. Insufficient light would be my number one suspect, followed by not enough fertilizer.
whozzat08
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 20, 2008
8:40 AM

Post #4685654

What you see in the pictures, is what they have looked like since I planted them. Slow new leaf growth and the ones on it just get longer. They have not even attempted a bloom.

I have used Osmocote and Peter's as fertilizer (house plant food) They both sit high on the table surrounded by 6 windows. Full indirect morning sun provided by 3 windows, the other 3 provided indirect sun until about 2 pm. No curtains.They have been in this area for about 3 years.
Before that I had them in the kitchen. There was indirect sun from about 3 pm until 6 or 6:30. I had to water them a little more when they were there.
The move didn't seem to make a difference.

At first they were in the patio area, surrounded by 2 sets of patio doors on one side and a bay window, that received FULL indirect/direct afternoon Texas sun. That room ends up 10 to 15 degrees Hotter or Colder then the rest of the house, even with the porch roof (and curtains) finally added over the patio doors. After the first few years, I realized .. Nothing thrives in there but the cactus, and all the plants were moved out.

The fertilizer might be a factor. I was not sure what Kind of plant this was, and what it needed. I have made that mistake before. (beautiful 9' tomato plants and not One bloom)

All the plants I have looked at (bellbergia ) seem compact in body. Growing up, and the leaves close and tight. B. nutan is the closest, but the leaves on it are so green. Mine have a greyish, striped fuzzy look.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

March 20, 2008
2:03 PM

Post #4686189

I'm really not worried about the growth habit at all, B. nutans grows that way so it makes sense that other Billbergias could have a similar growth habit. That's the way your plant grows naturally and there's not much you can do about it--finding out the proper care for it might make it fuller (more leaves) or give you flowers, but it won't change the basic growth habit. You might skim through the comments in Plant Files on some of the other Billbergias and see if anyone has any tips on fertilizer--these are bromeliads so I'm not sure if they like the same sort of fertilizer as other plants. They may prefer a different type of potting mix too. (or if you don't find what you need in PF, try googling for Billbergias in general rather than your species which doesn't seem to have too much information available and I bet you'll find some tips on how to grow them.

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