Queen’s Tears

Queen’s tears – a striking, sturdy bromeliad

Queens Tears photos by Anna Sarich, Deltona Fl.

By Launa Herrmann

If you’re looking for an unusual plant to fill an empty pot, consider Billbergia nutans. Also known as queen’s tears or the friendship plant, this member of the Bromeliaceae family grows almost anywhere in common soil or no soil and with little care. The plant’s nearly indestructible foliage and unusual blooms provide an exotic accent to a deck, doorway or flowerbed.

History and habitat

Billbergia nutans was named for the Swedish botanist, zoologist and anatomist Gustaf Johan Billberg (1772-1844). Nutans means “nodding,” a description for its undulating blooms.

A native of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, this bromeliad is also found in Mexico and Central America, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina.  Generally an epiphytic in its native habitat, flourishing on rocks and trees, Queen’s tears also thrives on the subtropical forest floor and in the well-drained soil of gardens or containers. As a ground cover, the plant spreads quickly growing outward from the original rhizome.

This monocot’s thick grasslike grey-green leaves with saw tooth edges and pointed tips present themselves in funnel-shaped rosettes. Each rosette, approximately 12 to 15 leaves, can reach heights of over 15 inches. Once a year, in springtime, a long arching pink stem emerges from the rosette’s center bearing one of the most striking of floral color combinations I’ve ever seen.

Must-see-to-believe blooms

Imagine this long arching pink stem topped with day-glo reddish pink pendant bracts bursting with flowers. 

And that’s not all.

The blooms hang in clusters, tubular in form, with three backward curved pink sepals with violet-blue margins, three reflexed lime-green petals outlined in navy blue to purple, and six protruding stamens one inch long with bright yellow anthers.   

The blooms exude nectar. Sticky and clear, these visible droplets are often described as “weeping,” which occurs when the plant is touched or moved. These “tears” in combination with the purple color of royalty that outlines the lime-green petals, is the reason for its common name queen’s tears. Since this bromeliad readily produces new offsets called “pups” that are dividable from the original plant and easily shared. If you are fortunate to receive “a start” from a friend, remember that most Billbergia nutans need two to three years to mature before flowering.

Easy-care tips

Mid February after a good rain

Tolerant of drought, queen’s tears can survive months without water. This plant obtains moisture and nutrients from rain or overhead watering or misting, not from the roots. If you place your plant in a pot with a saucer, do not allow water to accumulate in the saucer, which leads to root rot. Use regular garden soil or planting soil and keep the soil slightly dry. Repot and/or divide when the rosettes overgrow their container. Billbergia nutans prefers partial shade and can scorch in full sun. A location beneath an overhang or tree is best.

Queen’s tears is hardy for USDA Zones 8-11. My plant, which I obtained as an offset from a friend, grows outdoors in a pot – a sturdy survivor of several Vacaville winters.

Launa Herrmann is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.

Biblical Herbs: Mints in the Bible

by Herb Exchange

Plants are first mentioned in the Bible in the first chapter of the first book: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind…” (Genesis 1:11). Throughout the ages, the Hebrews have attributed holiness to many species of plants. The Scriptures associate feasts, rites and commandments with many plants and their cultivation. Early written information about herbs is found in the Bible back to the time of Moses or even earlier. In Exodus 12:22 Moses tells the children of Israel how to save their children by using the herb and lamb’s blood. “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.” In Numbers 19:6, 18 hyssop is again mentioned. Also, in 1 Kings 4:33 God gave Solomon wisdom, “And he (Solomon)spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall…” Psalms 51:7 refers to this plant: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” While pride is symbolized by the majestic cedar of Lebanon in Jewish tradition, the lowly hyssop represents modesty and humility. At least eighteen plants have been considered for the hyssop of the Bible, but modern botanists have generally agreed that Syrian majoram (Origanum syriacum) is the likely plant. It seems to fit well with these verses. It was used to cleanse homes defiled by leprosy or death and came to symbolize cleanliness. Its fragrance and taste led it to be prized by the ancient Romans and the Greeks before them. Bridges and grooms wore crowns made of marjoram. It was also quite likely prized in the kitchen, as it is now.

Herbs of the Bible

In the New Testament a sponge soaked in sour wine or vinegar was stuck on a branch of hyssop and offered to Jesus of Nazareth on the cross (John 19:29). Hyssop-Oregano was often gathered in bunches and used as a brush or sprinkler for Jewish purification rituals.

Hyssop, Bible Psalms 51:7

Mint (Mentha longifolia) or horsemint is thought by many Jewish scholars to be the mint referenced by Jesus in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 in His discourse with the Pharisees. It along with anise or dill and cumin grow wild in parts of Palestine, mint being the most common. The Pharisee taxed himself lightly if he paid the tithe of mint, for it was too common and too easily cultivated to be of much worth, even though it was valuable as a medicinal herb. It was one of the plants subjected to the ban on sowing and gathering every seventh year. Jesus’ lesson on hyprocrisy is told by Matthew and again by Luke, and mint is the one herb mentioned by both. The Greek word Heduosmos, or mintha, means “having a sweet smell” and refers to “a sweet-smelling herb or mint.” The plant derives its name from Mintha, a Greek nymph who was transformed into the herb by Persephone after Persephone learned that her husband, Pluto had loved the nymph. Several varieties of mint grew in Israel, but horsemint is the most common and probably the one referred to by Matthew and Luke. Horsemint is still found today in the Holy Land and is cultivated at Aleppo in Syria. It is much larger than the other mints, reaching a height of three feet or more, with lilac flowers. It grows in moist, sunny places where it tends to run wild. It has been confused with Mentha spicata, or spearmint. The Hebrews used mint as a strewing herb at home and in the Temple, prizing its clean and aromatic scent. They served mint at the Spring Passover Feast of the Paschal Lamb, and today it is one of the “bitter herbs” of the paschal feast.

Bible Herbs: Genesis 1:11

In Israel the branched inflorescence of the Salvia dominica is one of the several salvias thought to have inspired the design of the menorah, seven-branched candelabra, or lampstand. Other scholars believe Judean sage (Salvia judaica) may have been in view. Judaica is from the Hebrew Yehudah, or Judah, the name given to the mountainous southern part of the land of Israel. The Bible describes God’s instructions to Bezalel of the tribe of Judah, one of Moses’ Israelites, to make an ark, altar and table of acacia wood: And he made the lampstand of pure gold; of hammered work he made the lampstand. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and its flowers were of the same piece…” (Exodus 37:17). Sage had already proven its value as both a flavoring and a medicine, so it is hardly surprising that it appeared in religious symbolism.

(This article was submitted by Randy, and taken from Randy’s book  “Stop…and Smell The Mints”)  For more information go to https://outskirtspress.com/stopandsmellthemints

Deltona Gardens Community Network – Community

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Speed Week?

It’s a little too soon for Speed Weeks 🏁 in Daytona so it “must be “Seed Weeks”! 🤪

If you are following this blog, then you will see it’s already time to transplant the seeds that were just in baggies!

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“Recycling” the days trash into useful vessels

What a difference a few days makes. Shhh, had to eat all the Krispy Kreme donuts to put the box to good use!   Oatmeal box, egg crate, toilet rolls, dog food box; etc!

“Recycling” all in a days work as well!

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Lettuce

The Lettuce and Calabrese Broccoli actually sprouted in 2 days and grew quite fast. I had to use a skewer stick to push roots down further into soil. Tomorrow they’ll be jumping out to the garden by themselves!

Broccoli

Broccoli

Calabrese

Calabrese Broccoli

Green Beans

Green bean

Green Bean ready to unfold

Here’s proof toilet paper rolls work out well!

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Excited to “Let the Races Begin”! 🏁

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