In The Garden

guzmania bromeliad

Bromeliads

Bromeliads are striking, tropical to cool-temperate plants, native to Central and South America. They range from 1cm miniatures to 10-metre giants and are hugely diverse in foliage patterns, growth habit and flowers.

Position

Many bromeliads grow best in filtered light or a semi-shaded position. They like humidity and need good air circulation. They flourish under small-leaf trees, roofed patios or planted in sunny rockeries for tougher types. Former forest-dwellers (as epiphytes) can be colonised on tree branches, twine-attached with sphagnum moss to the natural bark. A living wall of potted specimens on a side fence or trellis is another option. Soft-leaved varieties are suitable as indoor plants in well-lit, airy spots.

Watering and fertilising

Most bromeliads form a rosette shape, the centre of which forms a reservoir to collect water and nutrients. Both the rosette centre (cup) and roots need watering regularly. In the hottest months, three times weekly is ideal. Allow the mix to dry out slightly in the cooler months. During the growing season, a monthly, quarter-strength liquid fertiliser (high potash, low nitrogen) in the rosette cup and to the roots will suffice. Some slow-release granules on the growing medium are also beneficial.

Care after flowering

Once flowered from the rosette centre, offsets (‘pups’) are produced, replacing the dying parent. These pups can be left to form a clump, or, once half the parent’s size, can be separated at their base in the warm seasons using a sharp knife or secateurs. Plant the pups in coarse potting mix with good drainage, such as orchid bark with added compost. The reward is a selection of stunning foliage bromeliads all year round with blooming peaks in winter and spring

Did you know...?

The pineapple is a bromeliad - the topknot growth is a pup which can grow into a new plant.

Red bromaliad

 

yellow bromeliad

 

Pink variegated bromemliad