bromeliads for winter

Hot enough for you? It’s over 100 degrees in Los Angeles today, so hot that even the devil has left town…(That’s the best “It’s so hot” line I’ve heard all summer, spoken by a gentleman from El Paso, Texas.) And our winters just keeping getting warmer, too, so I’m thinking it’s probably best to face that reality with…more bromeliads. You don’t see the connection? Hear me out. In temperate Southern California, unless your garden sits in a frost pocket, bromeliads don’t need to be hustled indoors for winter like they do in colder climates. I’ve never been one to get really excited about pumpkins and gourd displays for fall, but I could easily adopt a tradition of filling the garden with bromeliads for winter. Their juicy, saturated colors and starburst rosettes would be a huge boost in the shorter (but most likely still warm) days of winter. If we’re strolling the garden in shirtsleeves and flip-flops in December, then let’s have something sexy to look at. And bromeliads are indisputably sexy. They’re also incredibly easy to care for, needing about as much water and attention as succulents. Like agaves, they die after flowering but always leave some pups to carry on.

Here’s some glamour shots from local plant shows and sales over the years with IDs if I have them:

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Alcanterea ‘Volcano Mist’

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Aechmea nudicaulis in the center

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Aechmea ‘Loies Pride’

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Okay, so they make dramatic specimens for containers, but what about massed in the frost-free landscape?

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I’m so glad you asked.

This is what Lotusland, an estate garden in Montecito, California, does with bromeliads in an admittedly fantastical and over-the-top landscape:

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With dyckias in the foreground, also members of the bromeliaceae family.

Cooling down tomorrow, into the 90s maybe. Hang in there, and happy weekend.

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13 Responses to bromeliads for winter

  1. Hollywood Palms says:

    I’ve been on the bromeliad bandwagon for about a ddecade. I no longer see pineapples at Costco as food but as new garden additions. I’ve been mounting them in palms, in the crotch of plumerias with Spanish moss trailing down, in pots – they are so adaptable and a lot of them have scented blossoms. I think I have around a 1000 of them in the ground for easy ground cover. Hopefully, we’ll see the big box stores offer more variety and sell them as outdoor plants rather than just as houseplants.

    BTW – a homegrown pineapple takes 10 – 18 months and is super sweet!


  2. Denise says:

    David, I’ve got a few but I could easily fall for them in a big way, maybe fall as hard as for agaves. I’m just now starting to hang them in pots with rhipsalis, etc. If your house ever goes on a garden tour, be sure to let me know!

  3. hoov says:

    Fabulous photos!

    Shade gardens are not so bad, are they, when the shady ground is covered with bromeliads.

  4. Kris P says:

    I’ve been thinking more about bromeliads too – I have a couple Dyckia in the ground but most of my bromeliads (just 3 others) are in pots. If only they weren’t so expensive! MDR Garden Center has a decent selection (at generally indecent prices). I wasn’t impressed by the selection the last time I was at Rainforest in Torrance but it’s probably been 2 years at least since I was there. I notice that have a video on their new-ish bromeliad demo garden, which I don’t think was there on my last visit. You may appreciate that the co-owner talks about planting bromeliads under the shade of a tapioca tree.

  5. David Feix says:

    Bromeliads can become quite a powerful obsession; I should know as I’ve been collecting them myself since 1980. I agree with you about Lotusland’s bromeliad displays looking spectacular lately, so much better displayed than when I first saw them in the 1990’s.

  6. Alison says:

    Oh Man, I love all those shots of Lotusland, with the massed Bromeliads. They’re great plants, I have a small collection, although mine have to go into the greenhouse for the winter. It would be the coolest thing if I could leave them out, or grow them in the ground.

  7. Luisa says:

    Gets way too cold here, or this would be another mania. (My two Dyckias don’t count.) Ah, Lotusland…

  8. Denise says:

    @Hoov, I probably have a bit more shade than you do, but some kinds can take a surprising amount of winter sun. There’s a woman at the Marina del Rey nursery (see Kris’ comment) that really knows which broms can take the sun.
    @Kris, I’ve got tapioca seedlings if you want one! The bromeliad shows really have the best, most affordable selection.
    @David, you are the man when it comes to bromeliads! Waiting for your book to come out…
    @Alison, I need to try massing some on the north side, in a little strip under a triangle palm and maybe on its trunk too.
    @Luisa, it’s probably a good thing that we have to pass some manias by, especially with our size gardens.

  9. Nell says:

    Thought I was resistant to the lure of bromeliads, until I saw your picture of the soft red-striped one on the turquoise show table. Oooooooooohhh… I think that same or very similar ones are also in a couple of the massed plantings at Lotusland. [You must have taken a million shots there; these are all fantastic. The image of the bromeliad border against the clipped hedge is essence-of-Lotusland.]

    Also love the cool, minty tall bromeliads in the next-to-last shot (near/under a ?cycad).

  10. Tim says:

    Gorgeous photos! I thought this post couldn’t get any better as I went from one bromeliad portrait to the next, but those shots of the bedded-out Lotusland broms made me want to give up all of my temperate garden plants and move out your way. What a colorful and textural feast for the eyes. I keep telling myself I’m going to quit buying plants that need to be schlepped in and out of doors, but agaves and bromeliads are hard to resist. I really love the mundane, perhaps even tacky, Aechmea fasciata, with its silver-gray banded leaves and crazy bubble-gum pink flower scape. Maybe because it was the ubiquitous, and most likely only, bromeliad around when I was a kid in the 60’s and early 70’s; maybe because it blooms at the head of every bed in the crew quarters on Star Trek NG……

  11. This is a great post. I could totally get behind bromeliads! I already have quite a few dyckias and puyas, but I’d love to try some that are typically considered houseplants in our climate. As it is, we have so much shade in the backyard, I have a hard time finding plants that are happy there. Maybe bromeliads hanging from the bay trees are the answer!

  12. Anna K says:

    “I’m so glad you asked.” Made me laugh, as the split second before, I had muttered “Wow – where is that ???”. Great post, and I’m excited that they seem content in some shade – which is mostly what my garden has to offer. That said, I hope things cool down for you soon. Even 90’s is too much…

  13. Denise says:

    @Nell, it had rained just before that visit to LL, and the sky was still overcast. Everything was squeaky clean and the broms just gleamed.
    @Tim, so funny about that brom on SNG!
    @Gerhard, I could get into some trouble with broms too. Alcantarea, a fav of Robert Burle Marx, grows about as big as Mr. Ripple!
    @Anna, if you’ve got shade you need some broms.

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