Bromeliad

For a feature plant in a shady or sheltered area in the garden or even for indoors, you cannot look past the Bromeliad. All arising from the same family (Bromeliaceae) there are a wide range of bromeliads to choose from. They provide great foliage colour and form to the garden, can grow in trees and even produce fruit! Easy to grow and propagate they are a must have for the avid or beginner gardener.


How to grow bromeliad in a garden

In a garden bed

  1. Choose a spot in the garden that receives filtered sun and has well drained soil.  In poorly drained areas, create an elevated mound of freely draining soil or chunky orchid mix.
  2. Dig a hole in the prepared mounds the same size as the root ball.
  3. Holding the main body of the plant with one hand, gently backfill the hole, pushing the soil under and around the roots so that the plant is sitting high on the mound. 
  4. If the plant is unstable, you can use some supports such as stones or pots to hold it upright while its roots settle in.
  5. Water in well. Ensure that you also place some water into the central part of the plant as this is where they draw in further moisture as well.
  6. Feed each spring and autumn with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser by applying around the root zone and watering in well.

On backing boards, stumps or supports

  1. Choose a place in the garden with dappled light and that is protected from harsh afternoon sun.
  2. Choose an appropriate support for the plant. This may be made of hollowed out wood, backing boards (that can be purchased at your local nursery) or existing tree stump. 
  3. Tie the Bromeliad onto the backing board with a soft tie made out of something like a strip of nylon stocking or floristry wire. If using a hollowed out part of a tree stump tie the Bromeliad into place with some wire ensuring not to pull too tightly.
  4. After securing the plant to the backing board or support, place some Orchid potting mix between the board and the plant. 
  5. Securely fasten the board and the Bromeliad to the wall and water well.
  6. Feed sparingly every in Spring and Autumn with  Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser.
Bromeliad


How to grow bromeliad in a pot

  1. Choose a pot the same size or slightly larger than the bromeliad’s original pot.  Choose a place in the garden with dappled light and that is protected from harsh afternoon sun.
  2. If you are growing the bromeliad in a plastic pot, place some stones at the base of the pot to assist with stability. This is not required if you are using a terracotta or stone pot.
  3. Fill the chosen pots with speciality orchid or bromeliad potting mix. 
  4. Create a hole in the prepared pot that is the same size as the root ball. 
  5. Position in hole and holding the main body of the plant with one hand, gently backfill the hole, pushing the soil under and around the roots.  Water in well.
  6. If the plant is unstable, you can use some supports such as stones or pots to hold it upright while its roots settle in.

Growing tips

  • Most bromeliads are classed as epiphytes, meaning that they can easily grow on trees, rocks or cliff faces.  

  • Most bromeliads absorb most of their water and nutrients through their leaves or by storing water in their central rosette.

  • Some Bromeliads are ground dwellers, these include Cryptanthus spp. and the well known Pineapple (Ananas comosus

  • Bromeliads thrive in humid conditions and do well under large canopy trees or sheltered positions.

  • They are a great plant choice for Kokedama projects due to their epiphytic nature.

  • Once a plant has flowered it will not produce any further flowers in its lifetime. It will produce ‘pups’ (small bromeliads)  which can be separated from the mother plant when they are large enough .

  • There are many different genera or groups of Bromeliads. The most well known of these include:

  • Alcantarea spp. (Giant Bromeliad)

The most well known species is the A.imperialis ‘Rubra’ due to its striking green leaves with shiny red/purple undersides. This species can grow to at least 1.2 metres in height and have a width of around 1.5 metres. To add to this grand appearance, when the flower spike does make an appearance it can reach to a whopping 3 metres! This species is a great designer plant and a real talking point in the garden. 

  • Aechmea spp.

Many of the Bromeliads that you see belong to this group. There are many different varieties and species, most of which prefer milder winters and frost free areas. The maximum height varies on the species and can range from 15cm to 2 metres. When in flower during late summer to winter their stems sit high above the foliage adding to their appeal.

This species are available in many different colours including green, burgundy, silver, streaked, banded, variegated or spotted.  In addition flowers spikes come in a wide range of colours including, but certainly not limited to, red, yellow, pink, orange, blue and purple.

The most popular varieties include:

  • A. fasciata – Silvery foliage, pink bracts with small blue flowers.

  • A. chantinii – Dark green to near black foliage some banded in white, red and yellow flowers.

  • A. weilbachii – Bright green foliage with pink to purple flowers.

  • Ananas comosus (Pineapple)

The tastiest of all Bromeliads. This species loves the humid warm climates and will take some patience as the fruit is slow to mature. 

  • Billbergia spp.

For an easy to grow Bromeliad you can’t go past the Billbergia spp. These hardy spiny leafed plants are very adaptable and can handle being in the soil and part sunny positions (avoiding the harsh afternoon sun). This is a great choice for a Bromeliad beginner! 

The most popular varieties include:

  • B. nutans – Small blue and green flowers with vibrant pink bracts that sit atop narrow grey-green leaves

  • B. pyrmidalis – Light green leaves with bright orange pyramid bracts that lead to smaller red flowers that produce violet tips.

  • B. zebrina – Dark spotted prickly dark leaves with bright pink bracts with small green/yellow flowers.

 Cryptanthus spp.

This ground dwelling group draw most of their nutrients from the roots and the soil. They love humid environments and frost free conditions. Leaf colours range from orange, pink to green with some varieties having variegated or spotted forms.

  • Guzmania spp.

Widely grown for its stunning rosettes of plain, glossy green and pink or gold leaves. These can be variegated or pattered in contrasting colours. 

The most popular varieties include:

  • G. sanguina  - Shiny green rosettes, that can have variegated or spotted leaves. The flowers are small and low in the centre of the plant

  • G. lingulata – Narrow green leaves with red bracts and white flowers.  

  • Neoregelia spp.

Grown mainly for their different foliage than their flowers, this species are great to grow in mass plantings. N. carolinae is the most commonly grown variety due to their colour changing heart right before flowering.

  • Puya spp.

Puyas are more cold tolerant than most other Bromeliads.  P. berteroniana is the most commonly known of this species. It forms a spiny plant that reaches up to 1 metre in height and produces a tall stem of metallic blue-green flowers in summer.

  • Tillandsia spp. (Air Plants)

Great for growing indoors or in filtered light conditions. They take their nutrients and water from the air.

  • Vriesea spp.

This species can be grown indoors or outside and is also a great choice for the Bromeliad beginner. The most common species available is the V. hieroglyphica which has large broad leaves that can reach a height and width of a massive 1 metre! The main feature of this variety are the squiggles that appear in the leaves creating a unique feature for the garden.


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Common Problems & Solutions

Mealy Bug: New growth appears distorted with a whitish substance in the leaf axils.

Solution: Yates Nature’s Way Citrus & Ornamental Spray

Powdery Mildew: Powdery white film on leaves.

Solution: Yates Rose Gun

Scale: Small white, pink or brown patches on leaves which can be surrounded by a yellow halo.

Solution: Yates Nature’s Way Citrus & Ornamental Spray

Snails & Slugs: Large ragged holes, chew marks on leaf edges and silvery trails on leaves or ground

Solution: Yates Blitzem Snail & Slug Pellets