Wowzers! I think Mother Nature broke the mold when she created this spectacular specimen of a flower. Have you ever seen anything like it? Are you feelin' the visual voltage like I am? Electric blue petals gushing with gonzo green color supported by hot pink stems. It's surreally scintillating! Let me introduce you to Billbergia 'Fantasy Island'. It is a hybrid of Billbergia nutans commonly referred to as Queen's Tears or the Friendship Plant which comes to us from Brazil. Now if you consider yourself a 'black thumb' or don't think you have the ability to grow anything...this plant is for you.
Billbergia 'Fantasy Island' is a pretty tough customer. It's the kind of plant you can almost forget about and it can carry on. You can usually find them growing in old tropical gardens, left to their own devices, yet defying any neglect. Billbergia are in the bromeliad family of plants. This particular cultivar has long foliage that grows into tall, narrow, tubular rosettes. The foliage is spotted giving it the appearance of a star filled sky tinged in tones of greens, yellows, creams, and pinks. In late winter/spring and sometimes year round vivid fuchsia stems rise and crane their way out of the tubular centers of foliage to unleash a technicolor typhoon of opulently eye-catching colorful blooms. The look is psychedelically surprising and bizarrely beautiful.
So here's the good news! Billbergias are easy to grow both indoors and out. In warm climates they look great in the ground or, in cooler ones, spectacular growing as a hanging plant or placed in a tall container. They like growing in shady situations but can tolerate bright light. They are also epiphytic which means in their native habitat they usually grow in the nooks and crannies of other trees and don't need much soil. However, you can plant them in a well-draining soil mix. They like occasional water and are hardy to around 30 degrees fahrenheit/-1 degree celsius. One thing to note, if you put Billbergias in the ground they tend to spread rapidly so if you want to control them, keep them contained or give away any extra. It's like giving a friend two tickets to paradise!