When I started looking into bromileads, I was surprised to learn just how many varieties there are today. There are 2,877 different species divided into 56 genres, and the species number is constantly growing with plant enthusiasts creating new varieties constantly. Some are found in wet rainforests, and others found in the dry desert. Many grow from the ground, but some are “air plants” — such as Spanish Moss. Some have smooth foliage, and others have spines. I had no idea, but a pineapple is a bromilead – what a tasty little plant!
Beautiful? – check! Diverse? – check! Easy to grow? – check!
They are very intolerant to extreme cold, so our climate in Palm Beach is perfect for housing many varieties in the garden. Watering and fertilizing can be touchy, so the more you leave them alone, the better! They prefer to be in temperatures ranging from 70-90 degrees in the day and not dropping below 40 degrees at night.
There are two types of bromileads. One is terrestrial – preferring to be in soil. Potted bromileads do well when planted not too deep in the soil and then when we get one of those cold snaps next year – you can bring them inside. You can bury the pots in the ground if you prefer to make them part of your landscape. Regular potting soil will retain too much water, so you will want to use a mixture of orchid bark, perlite, charcoal, pumice, lava rock, peat or sphagnum moss; choosing a couple to mix together. They do not need too much room to grow, so try to plant them in pots only large enough to prevent tipping over. You can have them in the ground, however you should have a way to protect them from extreme cold, which is infrequent here in Palm Beach.
Epiphytic bromileads, such as the Spanish moss, are air plants. You can actually glue the plant directly to a tree, or you can wire it in.
Different bromileads prefer different amounts of light. These plants will “tell” you when they are unhappy because their foliage will fade or burn, meaning the plant needs more or less light accordingly.
After the flower dies, this plant multiplies asexually and “pups” new bromileads, sometimes 2 or 3 from only one plant – the original plant will die – and the new will flower and follow suit. You can separate the pups, and they make fantastic gifts. Just wait until the pup grows roots, or until it is 1/3 – 1/2 the size of the original.
Enjoy these wonderful, tropical plants in your Palm Beach garden for most of the year.