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7 Spectacular Ways to Use Bromeliads

Spiky, colorful, exotic: Bromeliads tick off the boxes for many houseplant fans. See how to use these flashy plants in your home decor. By Karen Weir-Jimerson

Paint a vertical wall of color and texture

Hang a “painting” of tropical beauty in your home or porch. Vertical plant  forms can be purchased or made (just check out options on Pinterest) which allow you to simply insert pots of plants. Create a mix of colors and textures with your favorite tropicals. Here, a trio of Neoregelia bromeliads creates a strong horizontal line in this living artwork. Supporting elements in the design include pink mandevilla and variegated ivy.

Growing Tip
Indoors, grow bromeliads in medium or bright light. Some can take direct sun on their foliage, but others prefer the protection of a sheer curtain or translucent blinds if grown in a sunny window.

Combine with collectible ceramics

If you love vintage style, serve up a bromeliad in a classic Fiestaware bowl. Fiestaware was manufactured in a range of fun, citrusy colors, such as this bright yellow-orange mixing bowl. The tropical colors and unique shapes of serving pieces and pitchers are ideal display vessels for a perked-up porch.

Guzmania are one of the most common bromeliads. Its green strappy leaves are topped with clusters of red, orange, yellow, purple, or white flowers. There are also variegated forms of Guzmanias which offer beautiful flowers surrounded by white-and-green striped leaves.

Growing Tip
Bromeliads like moisture! Water most bromeliads enough to keep their soil moist, but never wet or saturated. You'll find many bromeliads are pretty drought tolerant and will survive if you forget to water them from time to time.

See other ways to add tropical punch to your porch.

Use bromeliads as the “thriller” plant

The tall, spiky nature of bromeliads make them an eye-catching thriller plant in a combination container planting. (The thriller plant is the tall focal point of a planter).

This showy pot uses a Guzmania bromeliad in the center of a blue ceramic container surrounded by yellow-and-red coleus, twinkling blue evolvulus, and the chartreuse tresses of creeping Jenny.

Growing Tip
The center plant, the thriller, is surrounded at the base with filler (those that fill in) and spiller (those that cascade over the edge of the pot).

Pair different types for a rainforest vibe

Bromeliads come in different flower types. Guzmanias have spiky bloom stems. Vriesea bromeliads feature a feather-like bloom structure. Many varieties of Vriesea also have variegated foliage. The types compliment each other. And you get the power of two exotic flowers in one container.

Here's another benefit: Both types require the same water and light needs, so they are compatible growing partners.

Decorating Tip
Try bromeliads in the shower; they love the moisture. You’ll love their tropical rainforest vibe.

Growing Tip
Feed bromeliads with half-strength fertilizer every month during the growing season.

Use the power of patterns

If you're looking to make a big visual impact, use the power of patterns. In this showy container (it’s more than 6 feet tall!), the talents of variegated bromeliads pair up with variegated ti plant to create a container with a big personality. Creeping maidenhair vine spills over the sides of the container and pink flowering begonias carry on the color theme. With just 4 types of plants, you can create an awe-inspiring (but easy!) spectacle of foliage, flower, and color.

Growing Tip
After the main flower on your bromeliad begins to fade, the mother plant will begin to decline. But you'll see baby bromeliads (called pups) developing around the base. Grow these out and enjoy more bromeliads!

Enjoy the exotic

If you love a single pot with lots of textural and architectural appeal, try a pineapple (Ananas comosus). Did you know that pineapples are members of the bromeliad family? Hello pina colada!

Ornamental pineapples feature spidery leaves and a miniature pineapple that develops on top of the flower spike after the flowers fade. If you’ve never seen a pineapple plantation, then you’ll be in for a surprise when you see how these plants grow. And talk about a conversation piece. Everyone will want to know how to raise this exotic beauty Won’t it be fun to tell them how?

Growing Tip
Pineapples love lots of light. Lots. Make sure to place your plant in a south-facing window. 

Photo courtesy of Julian Hochgesang, Unsplash

Discover their airy friends

Another versatile member of the bromeliad family is air plant (aka Tillandsia). Air plants (like bromeliads) are epiphytes, which means they don’t need soil to survive. In the wild, they grow in the bark of trees and gather moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and plant debris that gathers around them. They are absolutely the easiest type of plant to grow.

Growing Tip
Air plants will enhance any room in your home as long as they receive bright, indirect light (never put them in full sun). Here's more about air plants!

Learn more about the magic of bromeliads!