Ohhh Jen?! (And anyone else)

LibbyLizMarch 29, 2006

You raise broms, right?

Tell me everything about them!

I'm thinking of getting some from the greenhouses (nursery/garden center) where I work. They're absolutely gorgeous, at least those that are in good shape! ;-)

I'm just wondering if they're right for me since I'm an impatient grower, have extremely hard water & live in an arid climate.

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jeffrey_harris(San Diego, CA)

Dear Liz,

May I suggest a Dyckia for you, then?

Given your conditions, some of the hardier members of the Bromeliad family, such as Hechtias, Dyckias and Puyas (as in the advertising campaign 'Do Ya Puya') might be easier to raise than jungle Broms.

Of course, creating a lush tropical environment in The Bee State might be fun, too.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 12:27PM
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Hi Liz!
Jeff has a good suggestion-- going with the more xeric Broms. Softer-leaved Broms (like most Guzmanias) are going to be the most difficult for you to keep. Some Neos, Aechmeas, etc would be easier.
What genera are you looking at? What's caught your eye? I can (maybe) make better suggestions if I know what plants you're interested in, because some of them take pretty different conditions from others.
I think I'd avoid using your extremely hard water. If you can collect some rainwater, that'd be good. If that's not practical, you could just buy a jug of spring water or distilled. It's less than 60 cents/gallon around here, and the stiffer-leaved Broms don't use an awful lot of water. It could get pricey watering large-leaved Philos with purchased water, but a Brom or two would be reasonable.
If you're an impatient grower, Broms might not be a lot of fun for you. Once they bloom, it can easily be 1-3 years before the next generation is ready to bloom. Sometimes they can put out pups like crazy, but other times they'll just sit and do nothing for months on end. Of course, they do more inactive sitting when the conditions are marginal for them (as are yours and mine.) If you really like the foliage (I do!) &/or if you have other plants to keep you occupied, no problem. If you want a plant that will grow and change a lot, you'll have to pick your Brom carefully (to say the least.)
I'm not trying to be discouraging-- just honest.

What I can tell you about growing them-- You probably know a lot of this, but I'll write it anyway:
There are lots of different kinds of Broms. Some are epiphytic. They need to be in a coarse mix (like orchid mix, bark, lava rock) to keep them from rotting. They don't get much of their moisture through their roots. The roots' main function is to anchor the plant in place. A little shot of water now and then will help keep the roots healthy, but they don't need to be constantly moist. Those are the plants that you water in the crowns-- keeping the "vases" filled, at least partially filled.
There are also terrestrial Broms, like those Jeff mentioned, and like Cryptanthus. They'll rot if you keep water in the crown, but they need more moisture to their roots. A coarse soil mix is good for them. They need to dry out somewhat between waterings, but not too thoroughly-- about like a Hoya carnosa, if that helps.
Epiphytic Broms can be sensitive to salt buildup-- and buildup happens pretty easily with water evaporating out of their centers all the time. They don't need much fertilizer, but if you do decide to give them some, organic is better than a salt-based inorganic. I've heard that some fish emulsion is deodorized, but I haven't found any such myself; I'd only use it outside.
Light needs vary, but in general stiff-leaved plants need more light than soft-leaved plants. If there's any white scurf-stuff on the leaves, they'll probably want very high light. A good, unobstructed east window will be enough for most jungley Broms.
When they bloom, a lot of Bromeliads have long-lasting inflorescences-- at least long-lasting bracts that can be attractive. Some, like a lot of the Neoregelias, flower down in the vases, and the flowers don't look like much. The foliage is all you're going to get. (For me, it's often enough, but you'll decide what you like.)
After blooming, the parent plant will die, as I'm sure you know. It can take anywhere from a couple months to several years before the parent plant is downright dead. In the mean time, it should be throwing off pups. Some types pup out on stolons, and some cluster at the base of the parent plant. You can leave them to form a cluster, or remove them when they're somewhere around 1/2 the size of the parent plant. Sometimes you can get away with removing them quite small, but the longer you leave them on, the better their chances of survival.

I think you can have success with Broms if you think they're something you'd enjoy. If you think they might not DO enough in their "off season" and if your greenhouse has some real beauties that are reasonably priced, you might consider buying one just to have as a decorative plant. When it was done blooming, you could give it away to a plant-loving friend near you.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 3:32PM
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I don't think we have any of those in the greenhouses!

Jen & Jeffrey,
According to my two Houseplant Expert books, at work we have Guzmania though I don't know which types, Tillandsia lindenii or cyanea, Neoregelia carolinae tricolor I think, Vriesea splendens/speciosa, Aechmea fasciata and/or chantinii & maybe Nidularium innocentii lineatum. We may have more that aren't in the books.

You may be right that these may not be for me, being an impatient grower & them taking up to five years to reach maturity & bloom. Though the ones in the greenhouses are already in bloom & others are getting ready to bloom.

The prettiest one by far, I think, is the Tillandsia lindenii or cyanea with such a bright pink bract & beautiful blue flowers!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 4:06PM
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jeffrey_harris(San Diego, CA)


But treasures such as that one below could be in store for you!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 5:01PM
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