Andrea, not Dave, but Bromeliads are one of my passions, been growing them
for more than a decade.
When I first got into them, I had tried a few times to grow some, but had
never had any success. Once you know how, it is really simple. Of course
there are several different types, and not all have the same cultural
requirements, however for the most part.....the rule of thumb is:
If the bromeliad has a cup (center area of plant) and it is fairly stiff
leaved, then it is an epiphyte and requires no water at all at the base, in fact
it doesn't even require soil. You just make sure the cup has water. This
applies to Neoregelia, Aechmea, and Billbergia. These will also take more
sun, but do fine in bright light.
Most of these have either green or colored foliage.
If the bromeliad has thin leaves and are mostly grass green. These are a
bit more delicate, require no sun at all (easily sunburned), are best in light
shade, also indoor. These also are watered in the cup. These are mostly in
the Vriesia genus. Have the tall blooms that come out of the center.....are
the ones mostly seen at box stores, although now they are starting to sell a
lot of the forementioned genera too.
Then there are the "earth stars" which are Cryptanthus, these are the
terrestrials. Have colored foliage and are relatively small, flatter rosettes.
These do best under trees, where they get filtered shade and reg. water.
Dyckia and Hechtia are also terrestrials, these are the bromeliads that look
more like cacti....very very stiff spiny foliage, no cups in the
center......unlike cacti these can take a lot of water, do very well in full sun in any
There are various other genera, however these are the ones seen mostly for
sale. From what you described, it sounds like you and David both have
Aechmea. They are the large landscape type. Have a cup in the center. As long as
they have some water in the cup, they will thrive. Aechmea can take quite a
bit of sun.
Once a bromeliad blooms it will NOT rebloom. It will send out pups from
it's base. The original "mother" plant that bloomed will eventually die off
very slowly as the pups grow. If you keep the bromeliads in a clump, the pups
will grow around the dying mother plant, so that you will never notice. As
the foliage at the bottom browns and dries, just simply pull it off. If you
prefer to keep the bromeliad as a specimen (single plant), then wait until the
pup is at least 1/3-1/2 the size of the mother plant and cut it as close to
the initial stalk as possible. If you cut it off too soon, it will not make
it. You can then replant this or mount it on a corkboard, or drift wood. I
have mine growing naturally in the trees and such. The larger types are best
as landscape plants around trees, where the ground will not stay wet.
The easiest way to kill a bromeliad is to over water it. If you water the
base (pot or soil if in ground) and keep it moist, the bromeliad will rot. If
you plant them, do not plant the base of the plant, only the hard stalk
part. I rotted so many initially, because I figured they had to be watered like
any other plant. Now I only put water in the cup and they thrive. They are
the easiest plant to grow, since you dont' have to take care of it on a daily
basis....even here with our heat, I water mine once a week. As long as they
have some water in the cup, they are happy.
If you have any more questions, just ask. Hope this helped a little.
Texas Gulf Coast/ West Houston
In a message dated 8/15/2008 7:20:19 PM Central Daylight Time,
Hi Dave-I confess I did not recall you promised me a bromeliad. I also
that might not be a good idea. I seem to be a bromeliad killer. The only one
haven't managed to kill yet is my giant silver leaved one, can't recall the
genus or species at the moment-I need more coffee. Oh I forgot, I also have
one small one that seems to be doing OK. I need to study more about them. I
also am wondering when my big one is going to bloom again. I "saved" it from
the Garden Gate when it was going to be thrown out. It's really gorgeous-one
of those that all the places sell with the big silver leaves and pink
How do you get those guys to thrive????
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