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Bromeliads – An Exotic Look Indoors


Bromeliads are easy-to-grow indoor plants. They are greatly adaptable to air-conditioned surroundings and less-than-ideal light levels, and tolerant of the neglect imposed on them by the hectic pace of modern living.

Bromeliads (Bro-meel-ee-ads) are members of a large family of plants, including the well-known pineapple and Spanish moss -that eerie, draped companion of trees in our southern states.

Bromels, as they are nicknamed, are native to tropical America, and can be found growing wild in the southern United States perched on trees (epiphytes), clinging to rocks (saxicolous), or growing on the forest floor (terrestrials). Epiphytic species are commonly called “air plants” because they grow on trees, love moving air, and have scales on their leaves which are remarkable moisture absorbing organs that pull water out of the air.

Mother Nature spent a great deal of effort designing bromeliads to be pleasing to the eye. These plants have double appeal because many have brilliant blooms as well as ornamental foliage.

Behnke’s offers a unique collection of bromeliads, ranging from the small starlike rosettes of the earth stars (Cryptanthus), to the huge incomparable urn plants (Aechmea), perhaps the most beautiful of all bromeliads.

An exciting introduction is our assortment of bromeliad “trees” ranging from 18 inches to 5 feet tall. These are beautiful, artistic displays as well as functional supports. Many bromeliads are inhabitants of the tree tops, and it is only natural that we should attempt to put them back “in the air” in ways which simulate their native habitats. I have been purchasing tropicals for over 20 years and these asymmetrical arrangements of container, driftwood, and plants are the most delightfully pleasing and eye-catching I’ve ever seen!

Try a fun project with your children or friends by constructing a living mobile. Tillandsias can be hung singly or in a cluster by using nylon fishing line. Simply tie your plants on a single string or make your mobile as complex as you desire.

Make a living-flower vase with your silver vase (Aechmea fasciata), our most popular bromeliad. Once the flower has faded and been removed, the natural cup of the plant will hold sufficient water to keep fresh flowers bright for days.

Come see these remarkable plants in Behnke’s houseplant department. While you’re here, be sure to pick up our bromeliad care sheet to ensure your success!

by Mike Bader, Buyer, Houseplant Department

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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