Thursday, June 7, 2012

Brilliant Bromeliads

A few years ago I found a beautifully patterned bromeliad at our local Home Depot, fell in love and quickly snagged it for my patio collection.  I had no idea what the cultural requirements were but knew I could probably figure it out. There was no plant tag or any information with it.  It turns out it was a Vriesea splendens and my only regret (not really) with buying it was that it precipitated another collection. It seems my take on anything is that if one is good then thirty or forty is even better!

What's not to love about this beauty? the strong contrast in the leaves and form of the plant grab the eye and say "look at me!" 

I really loved this plant and began investigating to see if there were others I'd like to have and a whole new world opened up to me... I discovered Neoregelias, what beauties. The form and strong colors of Neo cultivars are sublime and when placed in a grouping they make a fantastic focal point that can be placed just about anywhere that gets good strong light just avoid direct middle of the day sunshine. 

I'm particularly fond of the Neoregelia 'Gold Fever' in the center of the photo. Love the spots!

Love adding them to a vignette of containers too. Their strong shapes visually hold their own with the more complex container arrangements. As the plants mature and depending on the light they get they will color up and the centers generally get bright pink, purple or red before blooming.

Neoregelias get very small flowers in the cups of the plants that are insignificant. It's the colors of the plants themselves that steal the show. After blooming the mother plant will eventually die off and send up pups, usually two to three that can be separated and potted up to start over again.
My other great bromeliad love are the foliage Vrieseas. I'm a sucker for anything with a strong pattern and these beauties win hands down for interesting foliage.

My personal favorite is Vriesea hieroglyphica....

But I'm also really fond of the David Shiigi hybrids from Hawaii

And the Kiwi series from New Zealand - the beautiful 'Kiwi Sunset', These are both young plants and the colors will strengthen as they mature.

For winter care I bring them in and grow under lights where they do very well indeed and water them well about once every three weeks or so.  They grow in any good orchid bark only need a dilute liquid feed about every three months or so. Feed the roots and not in the cups. I burned a couple plants by leaving liquid feed in the centers. When bringing them out in the spring harden them off to a half day sun very gradually or you'll burn the leaves and it will take the rest of the summer to grow out the burned spots.  Some Neoregelias can take quite a bit of sun but it takes a bit of trial and error to know your individual plants. In general mine do very well with morning or late afternoon sun keeping them out of the strong mid-day sunlight.  The Vrieseas are more delicate and can be grown in less light than the Neo's. 

I'm in love with these living sculptures and enjoy their ease of care and visual impact in the gardens....


  1. Entertaining and educational post, Deanne. I may just have to add a few of these to the patio.

    1. Thanks Sue, I highly recommend getting a few. They'd looks great with your blue vignette where you have your agaves.

  2. Amazing plants, amazing photos!

  3. Great and informative post, Deanne - one thing about your new "obsessions" is that you manage to integrate them into other older ones -- and it all becomes a lovely melange of foliage and spectacular color. -- Cindy H.

  4. Thanks Cindy and Marie!!!! I'm having way too much fun with this stuff. I just decided to order some Tillisandias today because of Drema's pics on FB. They look so cute.

  5. Nice shots! That Hawaii selection is stunning.