Bromeliads for the discrening plant collector



Vrieseas are another spectacular group of bromeliads. Their inflorescences are characterised by being the shape of a paddle. This can be single or up to 10 separate paddles radiating out from the central spike.

The group as a whole can really be split into 2 sub groups. These are the ones grown for flowers as in the picture below. The other group is the patterned leaf vrieseas, which are grown for leaf colour and pattern, not for their flower which is often not significant.

Both groups are relatively easy to grow in semi shaded locations with regular weak fertilizer for best results. They need protection in heavy frost areas but mine have survived one night down to -6 with only leaf-tip browning.

The flowering group usually follow a one year regrowth cycle, while the patterned leaf varieties can grow for up to 10 years and make spectacular specimen plants, before flowering. The patterned leaf group make spectacular garden plants under shady trees, but keep them in pots so they can be moved if heavy frost is going to occur. 

A spectacular group of Vrieseas, grown to perfection



Alcantarea is a relatively new group which was split out of Vrieseas. They are characterised by  mostly being large growing plants with spectacular flower spikes. Some can reach 1.5m across and the inflourescence can reach 3 m tall.

They like a bright position and can take full winter sun providing they have moisture. They make spectacular feature plants in the garden but make sure you put them where you want them as the can become very heavy.

A beautiful specimen of Alcantarea imperialis 'Rubra'




Neoregelias are one of the most widely grown members of the Bromeliad genera. They are relatively easy to grow and adapt to many growing conditions. They are grown for their spectacularly coloured leaves and not for the flower . The leaves are tough and leathery and have small spines down both margins. They colour better with more light and less fertilizer.

They like to grow in a bright location with some direct sun especially if you live down south. Some of these can get very large up to 1 metre across and there are also miniature varieties . They usually take about 2 years to reach maturity and flower. After flowering they pup, like all other broms and you get extra plants for your garden. You can leave them to clump up, or separate the pups and thereby produce a larger number of plants.

Neoregelias are a very rewarding group and work well in the landscape and the shadehouse.

A beautiful varigated Neoregelia


  Guzmanias are a very showy group of Bromeliads. They are characterised by having a very large central flower . The inflorescence is very long lived and can last up to 6 months. They can have colourful foliage as well as the flower. Their leaves are very long and soft and a large one can be a metre across. It usually takes 2 years for them to mature from a pup.

They are a little more demanding in their needs, as to grow and flower well they need medium indirect light and small amounts of fertilizer regularly. They can tolerate cool conditions and love to grow under a shady tree or in a shade house with 70% shade cloth and moisture. I have found some of the newest hybrids don’t like exposure to temperatures much below minus 3. It will burn the leaf tips but they can survive. So it might be better to put them inside on a very frosty night .

As they are such a spectacular plant there are thousands of hybrids and species available and now many come in variegated form. They make spectacular presents and outlast a bunch of flowers. 

 Guzmania Giesla a spectacular varigated plant which is still hard to come by.

 Guzmania Atilla a spectacular example of the new hybris.













Aechmeas are a very diverse group of bromeliads. They are grown for their spectacular structural form and leaf patterning. They vary greatly ranging in size from small plants to the massive plants like A. blanchetiana and A. mexicana. They all like bright light and some prefer full sun for much of the day. They all have spines down their leaf margins and some are very spikey but this just adds to their character.
They make fantastic landscape plants and mix well in the garden under light shade trees. They do not like frost and their leaf tips will burn even in a medium frost so some protection is necessary in winter for them in the colder areas.
There are now many hybrid Aechmeas available and many are now available in variegated form such as the two pictures below. 
Aechmea lueddemenniana 'lued'










Aechmea Samurai, best in a frost free area












Nidulariums are a small group of very generally soft shade loving broms. Nidularium means nest and their flowers look like a little nest in the centre of the plant. Most like it cool, moist and shady. They all have small prickle down their leaf margins but there are a couple of types which are very prickly and prefer a brighter position. These are Nid. viridifolia and fulgens. All nidulariums are relatively easy to grow and flower. They generally follow a 2 year cycle from pup to maturity.

There are not many species available in Australia, and not many hybrids have been produced as of yet


Others Brom types

There are a large number of other bromeliad types for the more selective grower. Many of these are often still difficult to obtain but many are well worth it. Below are a couple which are reasonable common in cultivation.Canistropsis billbergioides 'Guava'

Tillandsia multicaulis a beautiful plant but still not readily available.

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