By Karen Weir-Jimerson, Costa Farms
Photograph courtesy of Costa Farms
Bromeliads come in a dizzying array of different flower types. Guzmania, for instance, have spiky bloom stems. They are one of the most common bromeliads and feature green strappy leaves topped with clusters of red, orange, yellow, purple, or white flowers. There are also variegated forms of Guzmania, which offer beautiful flowers surrounded by white-and-green striped leaves. Vriesea bromeliads feature a feather-like bloom structure. Many varieties of Vriesea also have variegated foliage. The types complement each other and can be combined in one container. Here are some other ways to use bromeliads indoors.
Create a tropical painting using a vertical plant form filled with bromeliads and other houseplants. You can buy hanging planters online or make your own. Simply insert the pots into the form, mixing bromeliads with your favorite tropical plants. Here, a trio of Neoregelia bromeliads creates a strong horizontal line in this living artwork. Supporting elements in the design include pink mandevilla and variegated ivy.
If you love vintage style, display spiky bromeliads in citrus-color Fiestaware. The tropical colors and unique shapes of serving pieces and pitchers are ideal display vessels. And don't be afraid to combine bromeliads with other plants. The tall, spiky nature of bromeliads makes them an ideal thriller plant in a combination container planting.
If you're looking to make a big visual impact, use the power of patterns. Add variegated bromeliads with variegated ti plants (Cordyline) for an upright look. Cascading plants, such as maidenhair vine, can spill over the sides of the container.
Try bromeliads in the shower. They love the moisture and you'll love their tropical rainforest vibe. Pineapples are members of the bromeliad family. Ornamental pineapples (Ananas) feature spidery leaves and a miniature pineapple that develops on top of the flower spike after the flowers fade. Another versatile bromeliad family member is air plant (aka Tillandsia). Air plants are epiphytes, which means they don't need soil to survive. In the wild, they grow in the bark of trees and gather moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and plant debris that gathers around them. Air plants are absolutely the easiest type of plant to grow.
Light: Indoors, grow bromeliads in medium or bright light. Some can take direct sun on their foliage, but others prefer the protection of a sheer curtain or translucent blinds if grown in a sunny window.
Water: Bromeliads like moisture! Water most bromeliads enough to keep their soil moist, but never wet or saturated. You'll find many bromeliads are pretty drought tolerant and will survive if you forget to water them from time to time.
Fertilizer: Feed bromeliads with half-strength fertilizer every month during the growing season.
Flowering: After the main flower on your bromeliad begins to fade, the mother plant will begin to decline. But you'll see baby bromeliads (called pups) developing around the base. Grow these out and enjoy more bromeliads!
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By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
Labor Day may represent summer’s unofficial close but now is a perfect opportunity to add late-summer perennials that will continue to beautify your landcare until fall arrives. click here for an article that identifies 9 perennials for late summer.
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