Exotic colorful leaves, a long lasting inflorescence, a wide range of sizes and shapes plus a very easy plant to maintain makes the bromeliad very appealing to own. Bromeliads encompass a large group of plants. Aechmeas, Billbergias, Guzmanias, Neoregelias, Nidulariums, Veriseas, Tillandsias, Cryptanthus, Pineapples, and Spanish Moss all comprise the bromeliad family.
Bromeliads fall into the categories of terrestrial and epiphytic. In their native habitat they can be found growing on tree trunks, branches, on rocks and in the ground. The epiphytic bromeliad have unique root systems which allows them to attach to suitable locations without invading their hosts. In our habitat bromeliads are grown on drift wood or similar pieces of wood, plaques, tree fern slabs, on trees, containers and in the ground. No matter how you plan to grow your bromeliad, depending upon their requirements, it is important to remember that the medium be well drained, has moisture retention capabilities, aeration and is able to support the plant.
The majority of bromeliads found in South Florida gardens are epiphytic, (air plants). Some of the epiphytic commonly grown genera are:
Aechmea - beautiful foliage with spectacular inflorescence. The leaf edges have spines.
Bilbergia - Rather tall urn shaped spiny leaves. The leaves can be banded, mottled or variegated. Unique inflorescenes.
Guzmania - The leaves are usually strap like, glossy and smooth edged. The bracts can be red, orange or yellow with red, white or yellow flowers.
Neoregelia - Known as the "Painted Fingernail Bromeliad" as some of the plants develope red leafed tips. The spiny leaves can have red spots or markings. The central leaves turn red accenting the blue or white flowers that sit above the water level of the cup.
Nidularium - Closely resemble the neoregelia. The Nidularium inflorescences are more noticable. The leaves are wide and lightly spined.
Tillandsia - The largest and most diverse genus. Some grow on rocks. Big diversity in leaf sies and heights.
Verisea - The second largest group of bromeliiads with numerous hybrids. Medium sized in growth with spotted and uniquely marked leaves. Brightly colored brachts with white or green flowers.
Common Terrestrial Bromeliads:
Ananas - Pineapple Plant - Their known by their spiny leaves and exotic fruits. There are large and small sizes.
Cryptanthus - Commonly referred to as "Earth Stars". Small plants with various colored and mottled or striped leaves. Tiny white flowers appear low in the cup.
Guzmania - Few in number. Found in warm, humid and shady areas.
Most bromeliads in cultivation have a rosette of leaves with over-laping leaf bases that form a vase or cup at the base of the plant. Water collects in the vase or cup. Watering once or twice a week should be sufficent to keep the cup level full. Bromeliads without vases should be watered thoroughly at least one or twice a week also. Bromeliads do not like wet feet. Potting mediums need to be well drained. Check periodically to make sure the plant is receiving enough moisture. Flush the plant from time to time to avoid salts buildup.
There is no general light level for all bromeliads. Some take full sun and some grow in full shade. This is a general rule of thumb: bromeliads with hard, thick, grey, grey-green or fuzzy leaves prefer the hight levels of light. While bromeliads with soft green and thin leaves prefer moderate to dense shade. Bromeliads generally do well in the same lighting conditions that orchids grow in. If the plant looks yellow to light green this may indicate the light is to strong. Very dark or elongated leaves could indicate to much shade. Most bromeliads will do well in 50% shade.
As a general rule, bromeliads do well between 40 to 85 degrees fahrenheit. Temperatures above 85 degrees are acceptable. The humidity will help the plant cope. An ideal temperature is around 75 degrees in the day and 65 degrees at night.
Slow release fertilizers placed near the outside rim of the container is recommended. When using a liquid fertilizer use 1/4 of the amount recommended. Make sure to flush the bromeliad regularly to prevent salts buildup. Avoid products which contain copper. A regular feeding program will help insure a healthy bromeliad. Good air circulation is important in preventing problems. Give your plants plenty of space.
Courtesy of: Palm Hammock Orchid Estate - 9995 S.W. 66 St. - Miami, Fl 33173 (305) 274-9813 www.palmhammock.com