By Mary Gardener, S.E.Michigan Bromeliad Society


Bromeliads - Cacti/Succulents - Orchids - Conifers
Magnificent Jewels of the Plant Kingdom

"Conifer Wildlife Habitat: Arboretum de Concord - Conifers from around the World grown in Michigan"

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   I bought my first Bromeliads about five years ago at the Ann Arbor spring garden show (three Tillandsias-bullbosa, ionantha and an ionantha 'Conehead' which still survive) and I was instantly hooked by these fascinating plants. My collection grew slowly over the next three years as I found more Tillandsias here and there, sometimes in the most unexpected places (an art store in Wells Beach, Maine, a rock show). I was content with my little collection of Tillandsias happily residing in the east window of my living room until two events occurred last year that changed everything. The first was an article in the Oakland Press featuring Siegrid Stern's fantastic greenhouse. The second was the completion of our sunroom, which my husband and I spent ten years building.


  The Press article on Siegrid's greenhouse mentioned a meeting of the Bromeliad Society at the Rochester Environmental Center.I attended that meeting, had a chance to see other interesting genus of Broms, joined S.E.Michigan Bromeliad Society and in the ensuing year my little collection zoomed from fifteen to the present 200 plus, aided by many generous gifts and purchases from society members. My little hobby has become an obsession and my completed sunroom is now overflowing with Broms as well as other tropicals.


   As a novice, I have been delighted with my success in growing Broms in my sunroom setting and don't consider a greenhouse a necessity. Some factors that have aided me are a southwest orientation with lots of bright light, in-floor radiant heat and ceiling fans. My goal has been to duplicate as closely as I can the environment that my plants would have in their natural setting. I mist the foliage to duplicate nighttime or morning rains followed by drying winds (fans) during the day as would occur in the wild.


   Many of my Neoregelias have bloomed and then pupped prolifically. I've had a Billbergia 'Red Form' bloom and the Aechmea nudicaulis 'Rubra" that I mounted recently on lava rock just rewarded me with a bloom spike. Several plants have pupped without ever blooming! Siegrid gave me a Neoregelia marmorata last year after removing a number of pups and it has continued to produce five more pups and is still going strong.


   During the summer, I experimented and placed some of my Broms on the back porch where they received dappled sunlight. They did exceptionally well. My only complaint was with the amount of rain that we had this summer. I had to keep moving them in and out of a covered area so they wouldn't rot with the overabundance of water. They've been moved indoors for the winter but next summer I'll have to come up with a better system for water regulation. A giant umbrella sounds like a good idea.


I've also tried growing from seed with good results. If done properly, it is quite rewarding to see sprouts in about two weeks. The trick is to keep those seedlings happy for the three years it takes them to mature.


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