Monday, December 26, 2011

Bromeliads in the Garden

      There is nothing better than bromeliads to give a garden that tropical look.  By the time we are done with this blog you will feel transported to the Caribbean Islands or the tropical rain forest for a short virtual visit, lol.  Bromeliads are a very unique plant with a look no other plant can match.  There are over three thousand species in about 56 genera, wow think about all the limitless variety of colors & shapes!  Growing mainly in the New World tropics and subtropics, bromeliads have a history that date back about 500 years ago!  Most everyone knows at least one bromeliad...the pineapple, yup the delicious yummy tropical fruit.  If you cut the top off a pineapple & put it in the ground, you will have a bromeliad growing in no time.  Once established the pineapple bromeliad usually takes about 15-24 months for it to bear a pineapple fruit, though it will be worth the wait!  Believe it or not the Spanish Moss you see hanging in the oak trees is a bromeliad too.  In their native habitat many bromeliad's grow on rocks and/or trees as epiphytes (meaning the plant takes in water & nutrients through the atmosphere as well as the debris that decays in their center cup section).  The ones that grow on the forest floor get their nutrients through their roots.
Here are bromeliads in their native environment high
up in the trees.  Even in this environment they add beauty & color.
     For the most part, bromeliads are pretty easy to grow with relatively no special care.  As long as they have the right conditions to grow, bromeliads can be planted in landscapes, used as container plants, floral arrangements, in terrariums and some species can even be used as indoor plants.  Though where they really do their best is in tropical & subtropical environments with warmth, water and humidity to keep them healthy & happy.

     When I first renovated my yard I included bromeliads all throughout the landscape.  There is an unusual area between the driveway and front porch that is small and convoluted so larger plants wouldn't work.  My best friend suggested bromeliads, hence my first bromeliad garden.  She & I drove to Tropiflora in Sarasota for their annual Spring Festival.  Thank goodness I brought our company van because I got a little carried away in my purchasing, lol.  The bromeliads I bought this trip were: Billbergia 'hallelujah', Aechmea 'maginali', a no name one they sold me, Quesnelia marmorata, Vriesea delicatula, Vriesea racienae brazil, Aechmea carvalho brazil, Neoregelia wilsoniana x (marmorata x fireball), Vnesea 'odenrode', blanchetiana, Neoregelia concentrica x hyb Bl 'lavender pink' and Voesea erythrodactylcn.  We also went to quite a few nurseries in Homestead as well but apparently didn't document what I bought as this was about six years ago.  With my bromeliads in hand we set forth on creating a bromeliad garden.  Here are some pictures of how it turned out.
This is how it looked when we first finished
it in 2005
This is how it looked in 2009, wow it really
filled out nicely!
Another view of a the front yard bromeliad
garden in 2009
Here is the front entry with the blanchetiana's
in 2009
Billbergia 'hallelujah' & a neoregelia
Two stunning bromeliads which lost their tags
A handful of different bromeliads in the garden
A few in the backyard garden

Yes this is really blue, pink & purple!
In a Coconut Grove backyard oasis
Absolutely gorgeous backyard in Coconut Grove which
my best friend designed & installed.
Totara Waters subtropical gardens
located in New Zealand, amazing!
Totara Waters subtropical gardens in
New many bromeliads!
What a cool idea to have the bromeliads
mounted on the wall under the waterfall.

Would love to have one in our backyard!
Nice contrast of texture & colors.
Really beautiful yet simple water feature at
the entrance of the Whitehall club house in
Davie.  It is a pondless feature that recirculates
the water into the ground rock then back up
through the waterfall. Perfect low maintenance
water feature than can be made to fit any space.
The bromeliads really make it colorful!
Two eye-catching bromeliads in our backyard with
a birdsnest fern in the middle.  Unfortunately the name tags are lost for these but it doesn't take away from
their beauty! Their colors change depending on the light, heat & cold throughout the year.  You can see the one of the right has a new "pup" (new plant) growing next to it. These are slow growers.

A close up of one of the watermelon
starburst bromeliads next to the birdsnest fern.
These beauties on the other side of the walkway
are very fast growing clumping variety.
In Asia they have extremely elaborate garden
shows & this is one of the exhibitors. Very cool
paisley pattern with coleus! Bromeliads are in the
foreground and background perimeter.  
This is someone's greenhouse they are turning into a
tropical jungle.  Absolutely amazing, so much
contrast, color & diversity!  Wish I had one! 

Believe it or not this is a bromeliad nursery, so
simple yet so stunning!
Another Florida wish list landscape, how
absolutely spectacular! 
Amazing fuchsia colored bromeliads in
this Florida landscape.
A wish list bromeliad, if anyone knows what kind
& where I can get one, please let me know!

Our old Miami house had a tropical planter
on the back of the patio filled with palms,
orchids, bromeliads, ferns, papyrus, etc.

These bromeliads have been growing in our family's
patio planter since the late 1980's when we remodeled
the patio. Super intense color on these blooms!
Not for nothing, but this is what the planter looks
like now after the new owners moved in this year :(
You can go to the blog I did of the yard earlier this year.
So sad they ripped everything out.
You can see the patio planter is completely empty. Same with the yard, they completely gutted it all. It's such a shame since it was filled with all kinds of wildlife due to the landscape.

I found this picture on someone's blog & though
it looks like a great idea, the old palm fronds
will eventually drop off along with all your
Here is what bromeliads on palm trees should look like.  Wait till the old fronds have dropped off or you can cut them off then attached the bromeliads to the trunk with a little sphagnum moss around the roots.  I use zip ties because I can adjust them when the sphagnum dries out. Just make sure you check the ties so you don't choke the palm trunk from growing.

This is what happens naturally in the rain forest, a
tree falls then other plants live off the decomposing
tree giving the new plants nutrients to grow.  This
look can easily be replicated in your yard.
Another unique garden with bromeliads growing on a piece of bamboo.  Eventually the bromeliads will cover the entire piece of bamboo, like the tree.
     So many ways to include bromeliads into your garden!  When in doubt plant a bromeliad, you can't go wrong.  Some love full sun, some need part shade and others can adapt to different light conditions.  Usually a rule of thumb is, the bromeliads that have thorns on the leaves (saw blades, lol) can tolerate full sun and the bromeliads without thorny leaves and/or smaller thorns usually need to be in part shade as understory plants.  In almost all of the landscapes I design & install for our clients you will see a variety of bromeliads.  Everyone loves them.  Well I hope you have been inspired to bromeliad your garden with these delightfully unique plants.  If you ever have any questions please feel free to send me an email at, post a comment or you can visit our website at

Happy Gardening and Happy Holidays to everyone!
Joyeux Noel!


  1. Hmmmmm am so overwhelmed and am in love with bromeliads right now. Hope i can get atleast half those here in Uganda....

    1. Wow! Uganda! So wonderful you stopped by Ashaba. Bromeliads are so amazing right!?! Too bad they are on the expensive side here in Florida or else I would have sooooo many of them everywhere. I am so curious, what is the climate like in Uganda? I would absolutely love to travel to Africa. Hopefully you can get some of your "wishlist" bromeliads soon, lol. Thank you for commenting. Wishing you a wonderful week!

      Best wishes,

    2. Heyyyy..... The climate here is really good. It's a tropical climate, we totally do not get extremes and yess u should come am sure you would love it and also get to see my garden.

    3. Oooooo sounds awesome! Can't wait and thanks for the invite Ashaba, you are too kind!
      Right now we are hot & humid, ugh.

      Best wishes,

  2. Thanks for your great article and blog, Sheri!

    1. Hi Alan, thanks for stopping by and joining the garden! Also, thank you very much for the compliment, so glad you liked it. As I sure you could tell with my long winded post, lol, that bromeliads are one of my favorites. Wishing you a wonderful week!

      Best wishes,

  3. I need some ideas for my retired mother's front garden. It's no longer manageable and I did not inherit her green thumb. She lives in south florida in the pompano beach area. We are thinking of ripping out the old garden and starting with an empty canvas. What kind of plants would be as low maintenance as possible? Would a rock garden be easier to handle with potted plants throughout? Really want to help her but like I said, I kill any plants I have ever had. Thank you for any idea you could give me or at least a place to go to get some ideas. Love those beautiful bromeliads you have. I never knew what they were called but loved their exotic look.

    1. Hi Lucy, thanks and so glad you found us! Hopefully my blog posts can give you some good ideas and inspiration for your Mother's garden. You can also check out my company's website at or you can give me a call if you like. In the meantime the first question is, how will the new landscape be getting water? Is there working irrigation system, will it be handwatered or rain water? Depending on how they are watered will depend on which plants to put in. Second question, is what type of light does the front yard get? Is there full sun, part shade, all shade. Rock gardens are easy but can be expensive plus it's alot of work if you ever wanted to get rid of the rock. Pots are lovely but they dry out very fast and need to be handwatered. But just to give an idea of some low maintenance plants that do well for our area are: bromeliads, crinum lily, thryallis, blue daze, ground orchids, alternanthera's, copperleaf, Jamaican caper, penta, knockout roses, salvia, tickseed, blanket flower, cordyline, dracena, alocasia, Panama rose, crossandra, ixora, firebush, gosh I could go on. Two great local places to check out are: Nuturf Nursery and Sunkiss Nursery. You can see a wide array of what does well here, prices, how big it will get, etc. Plus everyone is very knowledgeable. They are both on Dixie Highway, Nuturf is just north of Copans Road and Sunkiss is just south of Copans. Again, please feel free to contact me directly with questions and/or I could come out to take a look at the property if you need any help. Wishing you a great week!

      Best wishes,

  4. I love your broms, i also love love the clay idk what they are called but so beautiful.

    1. Hi there and thank you! I know right!?! I instantly fell in love with them. They are clay lantern's from Indonesia that I purchased from a nursery in Davie about 12 yrs ago. Unfortunately they sold what they had at the time and never brought them back but it would be great to find them again! :)
      Happy Gardening and Best Wishes,