Bullish About Bromeliads

Alcantarea imperialis in flower
Neoregelia Fireball type
Neoregelia Fireball variant

In our local climate in coastal Miami, we can grow so many interesting plants that one lifetime really is not enough to tackle all of them. You could spend a lifetime on just one group.One of the most useful and diverse groups of landscape plants is  bromeliads, which are surprisingly misunderstood as well as underused. Many people know bromeliads from what they see at big-box stores or at the supermarket. These flashy but rather weak soft-leaf plants can last for several months as houseplants, but fail fairly fast in the landscape. My interests have gone toward the landscape-grade bromeliads, and what a marvelous variety there is in this group. The array of landscape bromeliads ranges from small, rock-dwelling types a few inches tall to massive, 7 foot landscape giants with 6 foot flower stems. Many of these landscape types require rather little care once established, can grow in nearly all day sunlight and qualify easily as xeriphyte landscape plants.

One of the troublesome aspects of landscaping with "new" or underused plants is that they are seen so rarely in public landscapes. Many of the so-called "hard-leaf" bromeliads are incredibly easy to grow, multiply into tightly bunched groups, can grow into rafts on trees, and can be planted easily in the leaf bases of palms. This is almost impossible to do with almost any other plant group except orchids, and even then it isn't a fair fight: bromeliads win. The largest downside to many of the good landscape types is that they have small teeth on the leaf edges, but a skilled gardener can weed amongst many of them with bare hands ( as I do). Apparently, small leaf-teeth make all hard-leaf bromeliads unacceptable, but what a disservice to the plants !
Aechmea Blue Tango

Neoregelia Passion hybrid
Pinecrest Gardens has several landscaped areas using bromeliads as a focal point in them, including some hefty tree-dwelling species in the front entrance. We have over 2000 bromeliads in inventory, from rainforest-shade plants that prefer mossy twigs, to rock dwelling sun-loving giants that prefer rock piles as their homes. Consider some of these diverse species for your property, not just the iconic orange-leaved Blanchett species or the big silver-gray Imperialis group. The South Florida Bromeliad Society just celebrated their 50th anniversary, making them the oldest ( and likely the largest) bromeliad society in the USA. The society has terrific sales with great expertise to back up their plants. We have the local expertise, the plant availability, and the climate to do great things with our landscapes. What are you waiting for ?

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens        

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