For those of you who never bought into the “minimalism” trend and prefer to make a big splash with bold colors and shapes, you’ll love the look of bromeliads in your landscape design. These ultra-flamboyant flowering plants always command attention, with their vibrant flowers surrounded by a lion’s mane of foliage.
Don’t be fooled by their exotic appearance—these fabulous flowers are very low-maintenance, and keeping them bright and beautiful is no trouble at all. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for designing with bromeliads, take a look through this style guide to get some creative ideas for your yard.
Landscaping With Container-Grown Bromeliads
With their tall, sturdy stems, flashy displays of foliage, and colorful bracts, bromeliads look best when planted right in the middle of a container arrangement with smaller plants surrounding it and trailing downward. This technique, known as the “thriller, filler, and spiller” method, will help create balance in the arrangement while still having a clear focal point.
If you want a really bold landscape display, you can plant three bromeliads together in one large container, and skip the other filler plants. Their leaves naturally fan outward and down like a fountain, so the pot won’t end up looking sparse around the edges. You can either do them all in one color (we particularly love the fire-engine red variety), or you can do a mix of colors, like a sunset-inspired mix of yellow, orange, and magenta. Those warm shades will add a sunny, tropical vibe to your landscape.
Similar to orchids, these tropical plants are epiphytic, meaning they don’t need to grow in traditional soil mediums. Loose bark, sphagnum moss, or orchid potting mix all work flawlessly. You can still get away with using regular potting soil, but you’ll want to mix in lots of loose organic material to keep things light and quick-draining.
Pick out some fun containers to complement your flamboyant landscape displays. Try something more subtle, so the flowers get all the attention, or something equally as bright for maximum impact. You don’t need a very deep container—in fact, shallow pots are preferred. Place them strategically around your landscape to help frame entryways and create eye-catching accents in patio corners.
Growing Bromeliads In The Ground
Despite being epiphytic, you can still absolutely grow bromeliads in the ground. You’ll just need to make sure that the soil is very loose and well-draining, or else the roots could rot from too much moisture buildup. Different varieties have different preferences for sunlight levels, so take note of how much direct sunlight or shade your garden gets, and try to pick an appropriate variety for your chosen spot in the landscape. If you’re unsure of which kind will work best, visit us at the greenhouse, and we’ll help you pick out the perfect type for your landscape makeover!
If you want to think outside the box with your landscape layout, you could add bromeliads to the garden by fastening them onto rocks or driftwood. Many varieties can exist as air plants, and since they grow off of other trees in their native habitat, with some regular watering and upkeep, a driftwood arrangement can make a beautiful addition to your landscape.
Unlike typical garden flowers, bromeliads don’t need watering at the roots. The roots act more like an anchor that keeps them in place. Instead, their foliage and bracts curve inward and form a cup in the center, which collects water and absorbs it into an internal reservoir.
Remember: too much water is arguably worse than not enough water, so don’t overdo it! After watering, let the moisture absorb and then don’t re-water until the inner cup has been dry for at least a few days. Reduce the frequency of your watering in the winter to about once every 3-4 weeks.
Give the leaves and the cup a thorough flush-out every once in a while, so things don’t get too funky. Sometimes if the water is stagnant in the cup for a bit too long, the plant will develop some unpleasant buildup. As for fertilizer, using a water-soluble fertilizer twice a year should be plenty.
After your plant blossoms, that bloom will eventually fade and the mother plant will die back. But, like a phoenix from the ashes, little plant pups will pop up, starting the growing process all over again, so you can enjoy another round of bright and fiery flowers.
Now that we’ve kicked off a new decade and spring is just around the corner, we can’t wait to help all you Fort Lauderdale gardeners kick off your new landscaping projects. A creative landscape makeover can bring so much energy and personality into your outdoor space, making it so much better for entertaining. Visit us at Living Color, and we will gladly help you pick out all the perfect plants, containers, and garden accessories for your fresh new landscape layout!