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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Exotics Front & Center: GBBD April

The beauty and exotic nature of Bromeliads is to be admired on so many levels. It isn't only the ease in which they freely grow in a tree-shaded garden.

Or the way they readily divide and transplant to a new home even where the oak tree roots are occupying a good deal of the available soil. Once bromeliads establish roots in their new location, they begin multiplying and gathering closely together hugging the base of the oaks. Because their roots are shallow there isn't a threat of competition for the nutrients deep into the soil.

Bromeliads require very little attention from their caretaker at any time of the year. They are drought tolerant (a really big plus in Florida) holding water in the crevices of their thickly thatched foliage allowing them to drink as needed from that built-in reservoir. No trimming or shaping is ever required minus removing some spent leaves occasionally. Mine are burdened with oak leaves and sticks showering from above during this time of year but even those do not hinder their sturdy performance.

Sometimes bromeliads are to be loved just because their long, thick, shiny foliage is unique and spotted like that of a jungle animal rather than a common perennial.
There is so much variety to their form, texture, and colors it would be impossible to list every characteristic to be appreciated about these plants. Their leaves can be lightly colored and striped... Swept with shades of pink as if a paint brush was used to highlight their upperside and then decided not to give them its full attention.

They are not tolerant of freezing conditions but because they are safely tucked and layered among other tropicals at Hoe and Shovel they are protected during our mostly mild winters.
When it comes time for blooming a gardener couldn't order up anything more varied and vibrant. The flowers are as unique as each plant with many blooms lasting up to 6 months on most varieties.
Then there are the varieties that send up a berry-like laden shoot 2-3 feet above the purpley prickley foliage like the one my dad gave me featured above. At the end of each pod type berry there appears a teeny purple or pink soft petaled flower all on the same stalk.
The flower can be insignicant and delicate sitting low in the watery center where the brilliant red foliage contrast with the bloom.
Of all the bromeliads blooming this April GBBD this brilliant orange-red with yellow tips is probably my favorite. Of course I reserve the right to change my mind about favorites on any given day as more blooms will continue to appear while April winds down and the calendar turns another page.

I decided to feature only bromeliads this GBBD but for a view at what else is blooming at Hoe and Shovel check out my side bar where you will always find a brief run down of current plants and flowers.
April has signaled spring for gardeners north of Florida and Carol at May Dreams Gardens has a list of many bloggers you will want to visit displaying many exciting blooms.


  1. Fantastic Bloom pictures Meems. I have just started my bromeliad collection. I have my first bloom starting on 1.

  2. These are gorgeous. Yours looks like a wonderful garden that should be open to the public. Seriously!

  3. Gorgeous! The only place I've seen these before is in the grocery store with the houseplants!

  4. Hi Meems, you have a great collection of bromeliads, I am a big fan, my next project is to mix them up with other plants in containers. Great post

  5. mike: It won't take you long in your clime to multiply your bromeliads. Good luck - they are truly easy and fun.

    gardeness: thank you. Your words are very kind... you know we only show our best parts for GBBD right?

    Amy: Many of mine started in the grocery store, came home with me to grace a favorite spot indoors and then outside into the ground once the bloom faded.When I noticed how easily they made the transition... I was hooked.

    Rusty: I also have mine in containers with other plant - they work very nicely there as well.

  6. Absolutely wonderful Meems, we only have Bromelia indoors here :(
    They look so great outdoors, very nice thank you for sharing.

  7. Wonderful photos and text Meems, you make a great case for their use as a landscape plant. Alas, greenhouse for us also. I have seen them used particularly effectively in garden show vignettes. We have a collection of tillandsias on a trellis that can be brought inside along with a tray of the little star cryptanthus assortment. Your look healthy and well cared for.

  8. nancy: red is my favorite in practically any hue. For some reason bromeliad shades are especially vivid.

    tyra: thanks. They DO perform well as indoor plants with blooms lasting longer than you'd expect typically.

    Frances: Thank you.You know the names of them better than me. LOL I am so not good with specific/latin names. It has been my practice to figure out what works well and stick with it. Since blogging I'm trying to do better with names. :-)

    I have also seen the use of the smaller cryptanthus varieties used in a number of creative ways.

  9. Meems, it is always such a treat coming here to see what to me are indeed Exotics. I just love bromealiads. I am drawn to them every time I see them in a store for sale. I hate to admit that I bring them home just to have them die a slow death. They never rebloom for me. There yours sit with gorgeous blooms and spread like wildfire. Lucky girl. I will just have to admire them from afar.

  10. They're beautiful! They had quite a few bromeliads at the conservatory my daughter and I visited a few weeks ago. I'm a frustrated tropical gardener at heart! Now that I have my basement 'greenhouse' for overwintering them, I might have to try adding bromeliads to my small tropical collection.

  11. Meems, your bromeliads are absolutely stunning! Wow! I am kind of jealous...don't think I can grow those guys here...and I spend too much time taking care of my outside garden to have a garden I will just have to stop by and drool over yours now and again...

  12. Wow, Meems - seeing masses of bromeliads growing outdoors is like stepping into the Twilight Zone. Here in PA, we'd have to go to the conservatories at Longwood Gardens to see a display like that. I almost think I'd give up the ability to have hellebores if I could grow some of your amazing plants.

  13. What lovely photos! You make them sound so easy to grow although they appear so exotic and unusual...they make your garden look so lush!

  14. Lisa: I'm pretty certain Bromeliads like the humidity and when we plant them indoors they only last for so long. But outdoors where they can absorb the heat- they are happy to perform. Admire away- as I do visiting your garden to see tulips and hellebore and daffodils... and I'm pretty sure my list is longer than yours. LOL

    garden girl: Thank you. I say give it a try... what can it hurt and you might just find out your tropical-thumb works.

    jean ann: Thank you.Your comment makes wonder if you had them when you lived in Ft. Lauderdale.

    Nan: Your twilight zone is completely different from mine when I visit your blog. You did make me laugh thinking about you giving up hellebores in a trade off. But the first season you had to garden all winter long you might trade me back. LOL

    Leslie: Thank you. I honestly think they might be some of the easiest plants to have in my garden. It took me a while to learn this fact but now that I have I am dividing and transplanting like a mad woman. They make such great filler. I'm pretty sure the reason we don't see them used more often is two-fold. 1)they prefer shade and plenty of Florida is quite the opposite and 2)they can be pricey to begin with but because they multiply -- IMO it is well worth the investment.

  15. We definelty live in different parts of the world! We keep Bromeliads as potted plants, and you have them in your garden! Fascinating!

  16. Oh. My. Goodness. Beautiful!

    No offense, but after this post I have less sympathy for your comment in the post before about how you're stuck with zonal boundaries. lol. I would LOVE to be able to grow bromeliads outside like this!

    (And yet again, I have to say it. I WANT that variegated shell ginger. Wow.)

  17. They look pretty amazing, Meems. I know nothing about bromeliads [unless you count the ball moss that infests Austin trees!] but if life ever hands me a greenhouse, there's an Austin Bromeliad Society to help me learn. And I'd sure want the second from the bottom, that red beauty with the blue-violet heart, to be Number 1.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  18. I like your focus on bromeliads, something that we consider strictly a house plant "up north" here. There is certainly a lot of variety.

    Thanks for joining in for bloom day.
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  19. I am hoping you can identify what I think is a bromeliad on a post upcoming. I have no idea if that is what it is or not, but it is pretty. I winter it over under my house. Great info.

  20. Nice blog, I dont think I would be able to grow anything like this in my garden - too much clay and rain but then I suppose I can grow things you cant so thats fair

  21. Well, you've done it again. Made me homesick. LOL! OK, you're right, I've pretty much stayed that way the past year and a half. I do miss my bromeliads, though. Your collection is a jaw-dropper! Makes me want to get out there and transform this place, but we're about to re-list it, so... *sigh*

    I forgot to ask before... were there any dogwood blooms left when you were in T-town? I so wanted to crash your nursery party, but we were out car-hunting. UGH!

  22. Katarina: That's okay... they make beautiful houseplants too.

    Blackswamp Girl: Why, thank you.As far as zonal envy-- I just can't help it when I see the perennials you guys up north can grow... but isn't that always the way. I DO adore the shell ginger, too.

    Annie: Yeah, I love those bright red beauties... they really inexpectedly brighten up several spots in my garden.

    Carol: Thanks for hosting GBBD... it is a huge success and growing!

    Tina: I'll give it my best shot although as you might have noticed I didn't name a single one in this post... not so good with that.

    Patient Gardner: Isn't it always the way? You grown things I can't - I grow things you can't... which is what makes blogging all the more fun ... getting to see so many different gardens around the world.

    Sophie: I sadly missed all but a couple of dogwoods hanging on for dear life. I'll have to time that better next year. Surprisingly lots of magnolias were already blooming though.

    If you could have joined us --we would have been happy to have you crash our party! Maybe next time...
    You've got a lot going on ... houses AND cars...

  23. Very informative post. I really like your blog. Thanks for sharing all the lovely pictures

  24. Hello! Such beautiful photos. There is one which caught my eye. A daylilly. Purple and white with multiple blooms on end of stalk. Resembles stargazer bit is dark purple with white tips. Ive searched to identify it and would love to plant it in my collection. Help!
    Thanks in advance


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September 2010

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