Friendship plant, Queen's tears
This plant grew in our yard, year round, in Northern Florida, right on the border of zones 8 and 9. It bloomed in late winter (February) with a surprise of color for that time of the year.
It is a member of a genus of about sixty species from northern South America through southern Mexico. B. nutans comes from South Brazil, Paraguay, Northern Argentina, and Uruguay and grows well in zones 9 - 11 in the U.S.
In the Bromeliad family, it is closely related to Aechmea. The plant is grown for the panicles on the slender, red-bracted flower stems which are supposed to bloom in the early spring or summer. It can reach a height of 24 inches. The flowers are very colorful.
In a greenhouse or as a houseplant, it needs warm, humid conditions with moist, humus-rich soil with good drainage - don't let it sit in water. Mist frequently and keep it out of direct sunlight and away from bright light. Ours lived outdoors in light shade.
If you put this houseplant out for the summer, bring it in before the night temperatures get below 45 degrees. The one pictured here survived being outdoors all the time with a few nights getting to freezing in Northern Florida.
Propagate by root offsets in the summer (babies with new roots very near the base of the plant just detach the "pup" carefully from the mother plant). The new plant could bloom as early as the next year.Tip: If a flower blooms in the spring, divide in the fall. If it blooms in the fall, divide in the spring.