Beautiful Bromeliads

Cultivate some calypso color with easy-growing bromeliads.

Photo By: Scott Garrity for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Bruce Holst for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Bruce Holst for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Bruce Holst for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Photo By: Dr. Phil Nelson for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Bromeliad Garden

Bromeliads transform any setting into a tropical paradise. These plants boast colorful leaves and unusual blooms with south-of-the-border hues including red, hot pink and purple. More than 50 percent of all bromeliads are epiphytes, growing without soil. Grow bromeliads indoors for living décor, or outside as landscape or container plants in warmest regions.

Marbled Bromeliad

A native to Brazil, marbled bromeliad (Neoregelia marmorata) boasts light green leaves with striking red markings on top and bottom. Bright light coaxes maximum leaf color, which peaks as a glowing wine red. Flowers form in the center cup, opening slowly over a long period of time. But most folks grow this beauty for the eye-catching leaves, not the blossoms.

Urn Plant

The urn plant (Aechmea fasciata) is one of the more common and popular bromeliads. Beloved for its pink and purple flower, the urn plant also offers green and silver banded leaves. Plants flower after reaching maturity, usually around the five-year mark. After blooming, the main plant dies, but you can transplant pups from around the base of the plant.

Billbergia decora

This is an epiphytic bromeliad, one that grows nestled in the crotch of a tree in its native Brazil. Billbergia adapts easily to growing in pots, though, and thrives when placed in bright indirect light near a bright eastern window. The long pink flower stem is a showstopper with its dangling form and appearance. Billbergia was introduced to the United States in 1897.

Earth Star

Earth star (Cryptanthus fosterianus) has a devoted following among houseplant lovers. It’s a soil-dwelling bromeliad, happily at home in a well-drained potting mix. Provide bright indirect light for best leaf coloring. Like most bromeliads, plants die after flowering.

Cardinal Airplant

The cardinal airplant (Tillandsia fasciculata) is native to Florida, as well as Central and South America. In the wild, this pretty epiphytic often grows in clusters, forming colorful bundles of greenery punctuated with bright red blooms. Indoors, grow cardinal airplant near a bright eastern or southern window and with good air circulation. Bruce Holst for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Aechmea frassyi

The flowers of Aechmea frassyi are striking as they start to form, looking something akin to a pineapple. This Brazilian native bromeliad grows as both an epiphyte and a soil-rooted plant in the wild. In the plant trade, it’s often sold as Aechmea multiflora.

Canistrum alagoanum

A newcomer to the bromeliad world, Canistrum alagoanum was first described in the scientific world in 2002. The flowers bring a splash of bright red to the plant’s green leaves and are reminiscent of an Aplinia ginger bloom with its nesting bracts.

Deuterocohnia lotteae

The Deuterocohnia bromeliads form clumps as they grow, producing offsets or small plants freely. The result is a free-form bromeliad cluster that’s often grown as a ball. Deuterocohnia lotteae is an epiphytic bromeliad that produces red flowers tipped with a gold-green hue. Leaves have toothy spines along the edges.

Bromelia macedoi

This brightly colored bloomer is named for a famous Brazilian botanist, Amaro Macedo. Like many bromeliads, Bromelia macedo opens tiny flowers surrounded by large, showy bracts. In this case, the purple blooms and red bracts paint a sizzling color scheme.

Aechmea brassicoides

First described in 1882, this bromeliad can be grown on a slap or in a pot. It works as an epiphyte or a rooted-in-soil houseplant. The unusual feature of Aechmea brassicoides is that, when the flower stalks form, they pierce through the inner leaves of the plant. It is also sometimes referred to as Gravisia brassicoides.

Canistrum montanum

Canistrum montanum can be loosely translated as mountain basket, referring to the basket-like flower form. When this Brazilian bromeliad blooms, red bracts surround and cradle the tiny blossoms, which appear to be tucked deep inside a basket. Grow this bromeliad as an epiphyte on a slab or in a pot with soil.

Pitcairnia altensteinii

The Pitcairnia bromeliad group is the second largest in the bromeliad family (Tillandsia is the largest). Pitcairnia altensteinii is native to Venezuela. The flower structure on this pretty bromeliad offers a refreshing tinted beauty, with green and white bracts skirting white blossoms. Many Pitcairnia blooms often last months.

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