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What is Billbergia?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Billbergia is a genus of about 60 species that belong to the pineapple family, named Bromeliaceae, or bromeliads, within the subfamily Bromelioideae. This genus received its name from Gustaf Johan Billberg, a Swedish botanist and zoologist. These types of plants are suckering, evergreen, epiphytic perennials. They usually grow in woodlands, shrublands, and forests in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

The leaves of Billbergia plants are typically strap-shaped, stiff, and spiny. Most often, the leaves are tall and vase-shaped and can hold a sizable amount of water. These plants grow in a rosette that can reach up to 3 feet (about 1 m) in diameter. They have a lean and hungry look compared to other bromeliads, with their leaves usually growing straight up.

At the center of the rosette, the flowers of these plants grow on a spike, or panicle, but do not live long. Some species have big upright inflorescences, though others are pendulous. Still others have long and slender arching spikes. All species of this genus, however, have shiny primary leaves and brightly colored flowers and bracts.

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Fresh seeds of Billbergia plants are relatively easy to acquire, which is why they are among the most popular bromeliads to cultivate from seed. The seeds are germinated in vitro with gelatin, agar, or another medium. They can also be propagated through methods such as dividing the rhizomes, tubers, or corms. In cultivation, offsets appear at the plant’s base and are removed when they are several months old. With some roots still attached, they are typically planted in a shallow depth of compost.

Several species of Billbergia are grown indoors for decorative purposes, as they possess colorful leaves, flowers, and bracts. These plants' watering requirements are average, meaning water is required on a regular basis. They usually grow in warm temperatures, around 60 °F (18 °C), but they can also tolerate winter temperatures as low as 35 to 40 °F (11 to 12 °C). For ideal growth, these types of plants prefer plenty of partial sunlight. They can be grown on trees epiphytically, or in containers with epiphytic potting mixes.

An example of a plant within this genus is Billbergia fantasia, a very hardy hybrid plant. It has green leaves with white spots on top, with the underside displaying silver frosting. This plant can tolerate direct sunlight, unlike many other related species. Its large purple-colored flowers have shining red buds, with upright bracts on short stems.

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donasmrs
Post 3

@literally45-- I wonder if the plant isn't getting the right conditions to thrive.

Billbergias love warm, humid air. But they don't want direct sunlight. They prefer either filtered or partial sunlight. They actually do best outdoors as landscaping plants in warm temperate. They may not thrive indoors if the temperature isn't ideal and if it's very dry.

I have an indoor billbergia but I make sure to put water containers on my radiators in winter to make the air more humid. That has made a huge difference for them. In the summer, I take them outdoors in filtered sunlight and they love that too.

literally45
Post 2

I'm not a huge fan of billbergia. The flowers are nice but the one I have rarely gets flowers. And it naturally has a lot of white spots all over. So it kind of looks like it's diseased but it's not. I don't know how people get the really tall, lush billbergia plants with gorgeous flowers I keep seeing pictures of online.

fify
Post 1

My mom has billbergia plants. Apparently it's a "vittata." There are many different types of billbergia out there and I have no idea what they're called so I take her word for it. It's a nice plant with long green spiked leaves with white horizontal stripes. It's quite hardy too, I think my mom has had it for about seven years now and it has not had any problems.

She divided the one plant she had last year, so she has three separate ones now. They didn't mind being divided and took hold right away. I'm thinking of asking her for one for my new apartment. I'm not great with plants but I think I can take care of this one.

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