Bromeliads are fascinating plants that come in a variety of foliage colours including green, burgundy, gold, pink, orange and grey. Many bromeliads also produce spectacular flowers in a range of colours and forms. There are 56 genera of bromeliads with Neoregelias, Aechmeas, Billbergias, Tillandsias and the Alcantareas being some of the most popular.
Originating from South America, in their natural environment many bromeliad varieties are epiphytes (a plant that grows on another plant without being a parasite), surviving in trees and on rocky cliffs.
In the home garden, bromeliads can be grown in garden beds or in pots. In garden beds they are best grown in raised mounds of free draining mix. In pots, use an orchid potting mix for best results.
The growing conditions vary between species with some requiring shade, some being more sun hardy and some bromeliads that are cold tolerant. Shade loving bromeliads do well under trees, but take care not to move bromeliads grown in shade suddenly into full sun as this can cause them to scorch.
Water the leaves of bromeliads as well as the growing medium. If the bromeliad variety has a well in the centre of the plant, keep the well topped with water and drain or flush the well every few months to remove debris. Be careful not to over water bromeliads, as this will cause them to rot. Fertilise during the warmer months with a light application of slow release fertiliser around the base of the plant, or a foliar spray of quarter strength liquid fertiliser.
Many bromeliad varieties produce pups (baby plants) at the base. Once the pup is around a third of the size of the mother plant, it can be removed and planted separately.
Bromeliads are not affected by many pests, but scale can sometimes be a problem. The easiest way to treat is to wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove. Horticultural oil or copper based sprays should not be used as these are harmful to bromeliads.
Bromeliads are easy-care plants that can be used to create a year round kaleidoscope of colour in the garden, so go on, start your collection today.