A friend of mine recently vacationed in Florida and purchased a bromeliad at a flea market. I can see why she picked it out since bromeliads are especially eye-catching.
Bromeliads are in the pineapple family. There are many different types of bromeliads, each with a different exotic look. They are curvy or straight, large or miniature, dense or light, but all are bold and colorful. Most have brilliant, long-lasting flowers.
Tillandsia bromeliads are better known as air plants. These grow without soil or added water. You have probably seen them stuffed in little shells and sold as refrigerator magnets. They require misting and do best in warm, moist areas such as the bathroom.
The most common bromeliads are the Aechmeas or Urn plants that have colorful flower clusters above stiff leaves. They hold water in central cupped leaves for use when they need it. Though, they do require water, they can rot if overwatered. These bromeliads grow best in diffused bright light, but tolerate some shade.
Vriesea are the second most commonly grown bromeliad. These are medium size, with soft or firm, variously green but often spotted, blotched or distinctly marked leaves. Flowers are yellow, green or white with brightly colored bracts and may be upright like a spear, pendulous or even curved.
Guzmania are common in many malls and large interiorscapes. These have glossy rosettes of arched, spreading leaves and long-lasting flowers. Guzmania work well in low light conditions.
As you can see, there are many different types of bromeliads. Many make wonderful houseplants and are quite easy to grow.
Want to learn more about houseplants? Join me at my upcoming Four Seasons Gardening webinar or watch the YouTube afterward when I will discuss how houseplants add life and beauty to a home. After this program, even those with "brown garden thumbs" will know how to have healthy houseplants throughout their home.
How to Have Healthy Houseplants is presented live on February 14 at 1:30 p.m. and again on February 16 at 6:30 p.m. All sessions are available for live home viewing. Contact your local Extension office to inquire about attending the webinar at the Extension office. Following the session, a taped version is available on YouTube. Registration and YouTube information are found at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/4seasons.
Good luck and enjoy your houseplants this winter. You can learn more at University of Illinois Extension's "Houseplant" website at http://extension.illinois.edu/houseplants.