Bromeliads belong to the pineapple family and are a group of plants that are found predominantly in South and Central America. They are found growing in a wide range of climatic and growing conditions, from desert to tropical rain forest and from sea level to high mountain reaches.
Numerous hybrids have been bred for their highly ornamental foliage and inflorescences. Bromeliads are decorative indoors as pot plants, outdoors in shaded parts of the garden and many can be grown on trees and dead wood as epiphytes. Versatile plants to say the least.
They consist of a rosette of leaves that form a tank or cup in the centre to trap rain water which nourishes the plant through debris that accumulates in there. Flowers appear in the centre of the plants, some held deep amongst the leaves, whilst others appear on prominent spikes well above the foliage. Blooms are long lasting from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on plant type and growing conditions. This makes them ideal for indoor décor purposes.
Once flowering is over, the parent plant dies off after producing basal suckers called “pups”. These can then be left to grow and flower later or cut off and transplanted. Bromeliads have poor root systems as they only serve as a means of anchoring the plant and not as means of absorbing nutrients from the soil. Vrieseas and Guzmanias are readily available locally in a splendid range of different shapes colours and sizes. They are easy, hassle free plants that are most rewarding.
Here are some basic hints and growing tips for both indoors and out in the garden.
- Need bright light indoors and dappled shade outdoors.
- Can survive in lower light indoors but for a limited period only.
- Water tanks need to be kept half to quarter full.
- Do not over water as this can cause rotting.
- Mist foliage every day.
- Feed once a month with water soluble plant food mixed to a quarter of the recommended strength. Spray leaves with the solution on both upper and under surfaces.
- Plants can be planted in the garden or tied to trees outdoors.
- Most survive slight winter cold but grow best in hot sub-tropical climates.
- Great plants to start collecting.