BROMELIADS IN THE LANDSCAPE  

Neoregelia.concentrica.plutonis.jpg (47323 bytes)
Neo concentrica 'Plutonis'

by Penrith Goff,
S.E.Michigan Bromeliad Society

 

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1. WHAT BROMELIADS CAN GROW OUTSIDE? 

    All of them. They are better off outside! Compare the two habitats:
    a. Natural habitat: rain water, humidity and dew, nightly cool-down, good light,
       constant constant air circulation
    b. Home habitat: no dew, no cool-down, less intense light, poor air circulation, and low
       humidity.


2. WHAT ARE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

    a. Fungus: none, under normal circumstances
    b. Insects and snails/slugs: no insects other than scale (in the North); snail damage minimal c.
    c. Animals: rodents may eat cryptanthus       
    d. Toxic chemicals: major danger: copper and copper ions Avoid contact with water runoff from
        treated lumber, with algaecides containing copper compounds, and metallic copper.
    e. Sunburn: bleaching out of red pigment, bleaching out of chlorophyll, burn spots
    f. Bases of outer leaves develop brown (dead) areas. Plant remains healthy.

3. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT MOVING THEM OUTSIDE?

    a. Get them used to the intenser light gradually!
    b. Leave them in their pots.
    c. Sink the pots in the ground or leave them above ground.
    d. Make sure the pots will drain freely!

4. HOW DO YOU CARE FOR THEM OUTSIDE?

    a. Check periodically to make sure they have water. They will stay moist longer than the garden
        soil because the medium is mostly peat moss.
    b. Make sure the water from the hose is neither too hot nor too cold.
    c. Be careful about sprayingwhen the sun might burn the leaves.
    d. If you like to fertilize, your plants will benefit most from it during this summer period of high
        metabolic activity. However, for compact size and best color fertilize neoregelias and billbergias
        sparingly, if at all.


5. IN WHAT WAYS CAN THEY BE DISPLAYED EFFECTIVELY?

Hang them up! Many broms are natural candidates for the hanging basket: (stoloniferous Neos,
Aechmeas such as orlandiana, fosteriana, nudicaulis, Aechmeas with pendent inflorescences:
Foster's Favorite). Baskets can be hung on shepherd's crooks to decorate a walkway. Neos, especially, 
can be better appreciated if one looks down into them. Tillandsias can be hung from
trees or on a fence. They can also be fastened to trunks or branches
Put them in a planter! Single accent plants in the center, or a grouping. Contrast with planter
foliage plants-licorice plant, artemisia, Wandering Jew, Setcresia.
Put them in the border!
Use them as accents in under-tree plantings! They can make mulch under a tree easier to look at. 
Ground covers can make a striking foil. Some excellent groundhugging plants are Ajuga
Blue Bugle), Lamium (Dead Nettle) Thyme.

Put them in a garden bed! A succession of color is possible in a garden shaded by trees during the 
summer. It will get sun until the leaves come out. In February and March species crocus  bloom, followed by Iris reticulata, scilla, chionodoxa, hybrid crocus in late March, in April the hyacinths and tulips bloom, as their foliage is yellowing, the ground cover-Ajuga repens-begins to leaf out and send up its spikes of deep purple flowers. When they are through blooming, the spikes can be cut off, the foliage of the spring bulbs removed, weeds pulled, and, now that the danger of frost is past, the bromeliads (in this case Neoregelias) can be put into the ground. They are already  colorful but their color intensifies through the summer, thus   providing a beautiful exotic display until frost.

Make a mini-garden! A small desertscape with succulent bromeliads and cactus. Incidentally  many 
tillandsias grow on cactus in their native habitat.  A moss garden with cryptanthus and ferns.
       
Mount them on rock! What a centerpiece for a rock garden! The specimen to be mounted must
be firmly held to the rock (with wire, e.g.) so that it will be able to send out its own roots and  attach itself. Use porous volcanic rock. Billbergias and aechmeas do well on rock.

 

 

 

 

 

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