Bromeliads are a large family of tropical flowering plants that belong to the pineapple family and come in hundreds of varieties.
These plants come in a rainbow of exquisite color choices - ranging from bright pink centers to all red leaves to zebra-striped foliage — some even have spines along the edges of its leaves.
Some are big. Some are small and some like to attach themselves to trees. Its succulent and lush appearance hints at high maintenance gardening but the opposite is true. Once planted, it needs little attention. No soil amendments are necessary when planting...these plants have very little in the way of roots but be sure the area is well-drained - a bromeliad in a wet area will rot and die.
The bromeliads’ thick foliage grows in a natural rosette — its sword-shaped leaves emanating from a central “cup” in the center where the plant catches rainwater in its natural habitat. It’s a very versatile plant and they can be moved from area to area at will without damaging them.
The varieties that don’t need soil and like to live on trees are called epiphytes (air plants). They can be tucked into the little hollows on the bark of a tree or into palm leaf scars (called "boots).
Their root systems are shallow, and sometimes removing a mother plant that has bloomed and died leaves room that can be filled by moving a few plants around.
Bromeliads do not like cold temperatures. Temperatures of less than 28 F. will certainly damage the plants.
They reproduce by making an offshoot — sometimes called a “pup.” The pup feeds off the mother plant until it can set down roots of its own and separate from the mother plant.
They are so easy to grow and can live quite happily indoors too. And they reward the garner with beautiful, bright, long-lasting blooms and ornamental foliage.
To see some bromeliads in Hernando County, visit the Nature Coast Botanical Garden & Nursery in Spring Hill. The garden received a donation of bromeliads a few years ago from the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota and are well worth a visit.
The Nature Coast Botanical Gardens are located at 1489 Parker Ave. in Spring Hill and free & open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Phone 352-683-9933. New plants are arriving daily.
Check their website atnaturecoastgardens.com. Pets on leash are welcome