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Bizarre and Beautiful Bromeliads

I have a favorite among the most easy to grow plants, the Bromeliad.  You’d don’t need a green thumb with bromeliads.  They practically take care of themselves.  Bromeliads are so accustomed to being neglected in their native habitats that you do not have to hover over them solicitously.  They actually ask for and demand as little care as any houseplant you will ever have, except possibly those that grow in water or strictly on air.

This adaptability is one of the most amazing things about bromeliads.  If you think about, most of the house plants that we all know and love today were really at one time plants that lived in trees in the wild jungles of Central and South America.  Some, like many orchids came from Florida clear down to Argentina back when things were wild. 

Bromeliads could be somewhat compared to orchids.  In fact, many people have naively called them orchids, even though they are an entirely different plant family member.  Part of that comparison has to do with the fact that they live natively side-by-side in the same trees. 

Bromeliads do not require a special glass house as some orchids do, for they will make themselves right at home in your living room, office, patio, or greenhouse.  They can fit into the coziest little Victorian window garden or into the ultra-modern high-rise condo with the greatest of ease.  You don’t have to fuss over them.  No wondering if they are going to wilt if you forget to water them for a few days, or if you take a short vacation.  Obviously, that is one of the reasons they are one of my favorite plants.

From an artistic standpoint, bromeliads are an interior decorator or any woman’s decorating friend and delight.  There is so much style in the form and shape of these plants, as well as interesting colors and decorative leaves, that lend themselves to being a wonderful addition to any room.

Not all bromeliads are the same in form or general looks.  Some can be described as almost “formal” looks, simply because they are tubular, streamlined in shaped.  In comparison, other might be called “informal” because they are low, spreading, with delightful rosettes of leaves.  Then, there are the bromeliads that have rather severe, horizontal bands on formal upright leaves.  Still others, are saucy, with irregular spotting of colors in a whirling mass of leaves. 

Here is a beginning list of some of the more “formal” bromeliads to explore:

A. fasciata (also known as the Silver Vase or Urn plant)

Billbergia Saundersi

Billbergia Meyeri

B. leptopoda (also known as Permanent Wave)

Here is a list of some “informal” bromeliads to try:

Neoregelia spectabilis (also known as Painted Fingernail)

N. marmorata (also known as Marble Plant)

Nidularium amazonicum

Neoregelia farinosa (also known as Crimson Cup)

 

 

One of the things that I like the most about bromeliads is that at blooming time their brilliant center bracts can show color lasting up to five months.  Few other plants inside the house or outside, can boast that feature when it comes to blooming.  Bromeliads are primarily foliage plants otherwise.  It’s important to also remember that you don’t have to wait for the bloom to have an enjoyable easy to look at plant.  The foliage can be described in four different ways: 

  • Plain and shiny green
  • Leaves with gray horizontal bands on dark green
  • Dark irregular splotches of color on light green leaves
  • Leaves with red or maroon spots

Bromeliads also have a way in being thrilling in form and color without blooms ever appearing.  However, when they do bloom, the show they put on is glorious.  The big show in color of a bromeliad flower spike appears in the bracts of the spike, rather than in the flower itself.  Think beautiful, but small.  It is almost a foregone conclusion that you must like the color red or one of it’s tints because almost always the bracts are scarlet, a suave bluish red, or even a delicate pink.

From a flower standpoint, bromeliads can satisfy the most sophisticated taste because they are so brillian, courious, and some of them very long lasting.  Each species of bromeliads has a different blooming period and one of the things I like to do is have it planned somewhat like a “collection” so that there is always a bromeliad in bloom in my house.

Now for those of you who have never tried growing your own bromeliads, you might be wondering where to place the plant in your house.  The answer is, with bromelids — almost anywhere is fine.  They can take a lot of shade, however, they like considerable light.  At the same time though, they do not like “direct sunlight” from an uncurtained window. 

Another thing to think about when it comes to where to place your bromeliads — is to keep in mind that you can place them anywhere you choose from time to time — then simply move them to a spot where they are more happy in terms of sunlight to revitalize and restore them.

The next question that you might have is, “How much should I water bromeliads?”  With bromeliads, that answer is just as simple — just keep the leaf cups filled with water and spray them lightly twice a week.  Some people do give them baths under a faucet from time-to-time.  The method that works best for me is a Tuesday/Friday routine. 

Another watering consideration has to do with the roots.  Only occasionally do you want to keep some water on the soil, just enough to keep the soil firm.  Usually this takes care of itself as invariably just enough water spills over each time you fill the leaf cups.  However, be real sure that your pot has proper drainage as this is a plant that does not tolerate wet feet.

When it comes to soil, keep in mind that bromeliads would rather be clinging to the bark of a tree with their roots bare.  So a well drained acide potting medium that is not too rich is best.  these are plants that feed primarily through the base of their leaves where the water is held.  Never place the soil over the basal part of the leaves, just over the stubby hard growth below the green leaf base.

Other considerations with bromeliads is that some of them are climbers and prefer hanging to the edge of the pot.  Another plus with bromeliads is that they can be repotted or moved at any time without worry.  Additionally, keep in mind to NEVER fertilize bromeliads, they do not like that at all.

Now, I might be prejudiced, but to me bromeliads, when compared to other house plants have it all.  They have a wide range of decorative foliage.  They have bizarre and beautiful long lasting flowers.  They are thought provoking in decorative terms.  Finally, and most importantly, their ease of care is a blessing to those who do not have a green thumb or lead exceptionally busy lives.

If You’d Like To Know More About Bromeliads!