Billbergia pyramidalis

Billbergia pyramidalis

This is a very easily grown member of the Bromeliaceae family of plants. Billbergia on the whole prefer a shaded site. Their leaves are adapted to extracting water and food for the plant, and are formed into a vase shape with a central cup that holds water, organic debris and insects. The roots of the plant are mainly to provide anchorage, so they do not need a rich soil. Massed plantings form a good groundcover in dry, shady positions. Being epiphytic, these bromeliads can also be grown in the forks of trees or on tree ferns.

Billbergia pyramidalis

The flower is a thick red brush shape and usually appears in early autumn - around March. It is not a long-lived inflorescence but provides a welcome splash of colour in a shaded spot. This bromeliad can be used as an under-planting for other red-flowered plants, such as to scarlet Salvia miniata, a shade-tolerant Salvia, red cane Begonia and a red-stemmed rhizomatous Begonia. I have an attractive bromeliad called Neoregelia carolinae in this area that has a beautiful red centre to its vases, which echoes these red flowers.

In general, these plants need minimal care - an occasional watering in very dry times and some slow-release fertiliser applied around the base of the plants in spring. If you have time, foliar feeding with a diluted liquid fertiliser is beneficial every so often. If grown in trees, a bit more watering and foliar feeding will be required. As with most bromeliads, however, don't overwater them as this can lead to rotting of the roots. There are basically no pests that attack them. Remove excess leaf litter from the central 'vase' occasionally - long tongs can be used! Propagation is by dividing off the young 'pups' of the plants in spring or autumn and potting these on in a shady spot until they develop a root system.

Flowers in March, April, May.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.