Bromeliads: A special plant for that special someone

By Beth Ellis - Victoria County Master Gardener/Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
Feb. 8, 2018 at 10:30 p.m.
Updated Feb. 9, 2018 at 6 a.m.

This Neoregelia 'flirting' bromeliad is as flirtatious as its name with its beautiful red  bracts that have a rosette formation in contrast to the striking green bracts below. Notice the white tips on the exterior red bracts that will open to form other rosettes. This bromeliad will surely touch the heart of your Valentine with the red rosette on top.

This Neoregelia 'flirting' bromeliad is as flirtatious as its name with its beautiful red bracts that have a rosette formation in contrast to the striking green bracts below. Notice the white tips on the exterior red bracts that will open to form other rosettes. This bromeliad will surely touch the heart of your Valentine with the red rosette on top.   Contributed photo by Victoria County Master Gardener Charla Borchers Leon for The Victoria Advocate

Want to gift a plant to that special someone that is as wonderful as they are? If so, give them a bromeliad.

These potential gifts can be found in pots in garden centers, floral shops and larger grocery stores in various reds, pinks, white, purples, maroons, yellows and oranges as well as beautiful variegated mixes of several colors. There is likely a color for your Valentine that will show how special they are and will also brighten their day.

These exotic beauties love to grow high up in forest canopies, far away from the soil of the forest floor. Because of this unusual habit, they also make wonderful gifts for those who love a touch of gardening uniqueness.

Here are some hints about how to give this plant the loving care it deserves. If you look closely, you'll also see that the core of this advice applies to your sweetie, too.

Water with love

In lots of ways, bromeliads are just like your sweetie - they aren't like your usual gang of friends, so don't give either one the "same old, same old" treatment.

• Fill cup halfway every few days

If you take a close look, you'll notice broms have a beautiful leaf structure that forms a cup (also called a vase) at the center of the plant. In nature, this is how bromeliads collect rainwater instead of using roots. So, just like remembering to regularly tell your sweetie how much you love them, pay attention to the vase and fill it about half full of water every few days. Replace the old water because whether we are talking love or water, who wants it to go stale?

• Water soil mix every once in a while

If your bromeliad is potted, give the soil (cactus or orchid mix) a good watering every once in a while. This doesn't water the plant so much as it helps in other important ways. For one, it helps to keep the plant nicely secure in the soil. For another, it surrounds the plant with a little extra hug of humidity.

• More water is not better

Just like relationships, remember that too much of anything is not automatically better. Water the soil too much and your brom may just start to rot away, so reserve that little bit extra for special occasions - like every three or four weeks.

• Best to use rain or purified water

The best water to bless your plant with is rainwater or purified water. Like most people, broms don't like complications when it comes to happiness - in this case, the metals and salts sometimes found in tap water.

Showing off

Remember that broms aren't necessarily reliant on soil, so you can give them amazing settings in which to shine - such as in living sculptures.

Like building the foundation of any relationship, it's a good idea to start with the real thing. Untreated cedar or oak boards or branches are a great start. Just avoid treated finishes - like with water, bromeliads don't like the extra complications.

To help secure broms, use fishing line, giving the root cluster a blanket of sphagnum moss.

That loving feeling

During cold weather, give bromeliads that warm, loving feeling by moving them inside the house (after all, getting frozen out doesn't work for anybody). Place them in bright but not direct light with air circulation to keep them from feeling suffocated. An occasional misting is well received, or use a humidifier.

The birds and the bees

You know those showy, colorful bits broms have? Those aren't flowers - they are actually colorful leaves called bracts. Seeds can be collected from the flowers that grow from bracts, but even better, the mother plants produce pups.

Once pups are about half the size of the momma, separate them and grow on a base or in a pot as described above. The mother plant may not flower again, but she will produce more pups if you continue to give her the loving care she deserves.

Happiness and contentment

So, now you know what to give your plant-loving "special someone" for Valentine's Day. Be sure and give them a copy of this column, too. Not only will the advice keep the plant healthy and happy, but it will also give your sweetie a little glimpse of just how unique and wonderful you think they are, too.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture and County Commissioners Courts of Texas are cooperating. Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodations in order to participate in meetings are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office at 361-575-4581 to determine how reasonable accommodations can be made. The information given herein is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names are made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service is implied.

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com.


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