Friday, February 10, 2012

Pretty picture: Billbergia nutans

I got this plant via trade in May 2010 as three rosettes, with a fourth forming. It's grown two more since then, which was plenty exciting on its own, but then just as the November-December hiatus was ending, I saw a flower spike form. By January 8, I had the first flower open:

Unfortunately, the next time I checked on the plant was about two weeks later, and I'd missed the rest of the show. I mean, I figure the other flowers probably looked the same, so I didn't necessarily miss a lot, but I'd hoped to have more chances to get photos, because the light was bad on the 8th and I was worried none of them would clean up well. (I'm happy with the one above, though, so I guess things worked out anyway.)

I'm a bit mystified that B. nutans isn't get sold in garden centers (or at least not in any of the garden centers I've been to). I'll grant that it doesn't look like much without the flowers, and the flowers don't last long enough to ship, and it's already pretty well established as a passalong plant. But still -- I wanted one long before I had the opportunity to trade for one, so there must be some market out there for them. I mean, people will buy spider plants, which are not much flashier-looking and which propagate even more easily, so why not Billbergia? Especially when they're capable of something like this. I don't get it.


Tom said...

I will never figure out the sad lack of Billbergia at the garden center. Or the sad lack of ANY of the cool bromeliads for that matter.

mr_subjunctive said...


What do you consider the "cool" bromeliads?

Tom said... Ones like that! Also all the odd ones with super cool leaf patterns like Billbergia amoena var. virdis and things of that nature. I'm starting to see lots of pineapples which ARE cool but I want MORE!

Andrew Abl─Śnas said...

I love this species. If I remember correctly, you actually helped me ID it in the university greenhouses. It just sits there and then unexpectedly puts out those lovely blooms. They really don't last long. In a warm greenhouse they fade after only a few days. Luckily they don't all open at the same time!

Pat said...

Puya have to be the coolest bromeliads.

Jayson in Missouri said...

This is a key plant of my childhood memories in Southern California. It grew under an Ailanthus tree in a repurposed toilet which it all but completely disguised. I never knew its name. Thanks for the info!