Ornamental bromeliads belong to the pineapple family and are primarily epiphytic (growing on trees) or lithophytic (growing on rocks), with many growing as ground plants on the forest floors of Brazil and South America.
Bromeliads are grown for their attractive foliage (either banding colour tones, seasonal tones or structural shape) or for flowers (brilliant bracts of yellow, pink, mauves, reds, etc).
Bromeliads are ideal as tough outdoor garden plants or short-term indoor specimens.
Most are highly drought resilient, although they prefer a humid climate to flourish.
When selecting a suitable plant, be aware that some varieties have small spines on the leaf edges.
How to grow:
Bromeliads can be grown in bushhouses, greenhouses, shadehouses, verandahs, under trees, on balconies, on window sills, patios, in wire baskets, in the garden… in fact they are very adaptable and forgiving.
They need excellent drainage and a potting mix that includes charcoal is ideal.
Pelletised fertilisers (eg Osmocote/Nutricote) should be applied once a year, and a liquid fertiliser applied in spring, summer and autumn will see the plant grow prolifically. Alternatively, most bromeliads will continue to grow even with complete nutrient neglect however flowering or ‘pupping’ may not occur.
Aechmea – long lasting and colourful flower spikes
Ananas – pineapple group
Billbergia – highly attractive coloured leaves with short-lived stunning flowers
Cryptanthus – short rosetted star-shaped plants with highly attractive stripped and banded leaves
Guzmania – internationally prized for their glossy leaves and long-lasting inflorences
Neoregelia – perhaps the most colourful group due to patterns on the leaves
Tillandsia – these unusual air plants are common as collectables with various rosette forms, leaf colour tones and inflorescence shapes
Vriesea – either shiny green or banded glossy leaves with long-lasting very attractive flower spikes