Bromeliads in Winter

Bromeliads like this Vriesea gigantea are wintering outdoors in this frostless garden. Maybe this bizarro winter I should knock wood and say this historically frostless garden.


This fast-growing vriesea from southeastern Brazil is temporarily kept in a small pot to tuck into larger pots, but its future massive size will require other arrangements. Bromeliads are relatively new to me. Some are grown more for their fantastic plasticine foliage, others for an incredible inflorescence in shapes and colors that bring to mind the plumage of tropical birds. I currently have maybe five, chosen more for foliage, always trying to find them in small sizes since they fetch exorbitant prices when large. They are much more “other” to me than succulents, utterly strange and mysterious, but apart from requiring shade are just as easy on the maintenance schedule, and just as dangerously collectible.


Most bromeliads are epiphytic, and soil is really only necessary for stabilizing the plant. Soggy roots are to be avoided. The central cup of leaves is kept filled with fresh water. Incredibly easy glamour. The soft light of winter is rarely too harsh for these shade lovers, and I can play with them quite a bit, planting them in the ground among grasses, full sun/overcast skies, for several months, then repotting them again as spring nears. I carelessly left a neoregelia and aechmea in the ground during the rainy month of December, a cavalier attitude that could have had disastrous consequences, but they’re fine.

On a reasonably warm February day in the 70’s, setting this vriesea into the larger container with aeoniums and coprosma conjures an instant scene from summer. Those old cordyline leaves don’t look very summery, but the bromeliad does enjoy the increased humidity from the surrounding plants. One look at my hands would tell you how dry it’s been.


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8 Responses to Bromeliads in Winter

  1. That is a knock-out Bromeliad!

  2. David says:

    I love Vriesias but they don’t love Houston heat. I’ve tried and tried to baby along some of these fine bromeliads. Yours looks wonderful.
    Happy Growing!
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

  3. Ryan Miller says:

    Your glowing green bromeliad looks perfect nestled into that glowing pink coprosma. I’ve never been attracted to the really plastic looking ones, or even the ones with crazy cyan and hot-pink blooms. I thought I was happy not being able to grow bromeliads in my garden but you’ve just ruined that one for me.

  4. Grace says:

    I won’t grow any more tender plants. I won’t grow any more tender plants. … I keep telling myself this and there you go with your luscious and tempting eye candy. 🙂

  5. hoover says:

    I know what you mean about the hands. My hands look like the Gobi Desert, if the Gobi Desert cracked and bled.

    Lovely arrangement–makes me want to try them, too. Sherman Gardens had them mixed in with succulents and they looked excellent.

  6. Kathy says:

    Love that combo with the Coprosma Denise..

  7. Denise says:

    Loree, not all of them do, but this bromeliad does have the gravitas of an agave.
    Grace, you are the worst enabler of plant envy, so I feel guilt-free.
    David, I wonder if a lath house would help at all with that kind of heat.
    Ryan, the blooms would be amazing to watch lengthen and grow but I can handle bloomless too.
    Hoov, rain this week! I’ve been planting all morning.
    Kathy, that coprosma was pulled out of the garden and just stuck into this pot as an afterthought. Then I noticed the cordyline doing the color echo thing, and have been building around the two. Shrubs in pots are so durable!

  8. I had a chance to pullout this bougainvillea tree when I put the pavers in. This Vriesea Zamorensis bromeliad had two pups now I have an additional container.

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