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Types of Bromeliads to Grow in Australia

Bromeliads are quite exotic-looking plants. They originate mainly from South America but can be grown in most parts of Australia.

Many bromeliad species are epiphytic which means that they commonly grow in the fork of a tree in their native habitat. This gives us an indication of what type of conditions they need and where you should grow them.

Bromeliads can be grown in a similar way to orchids and when grown in pots, an orchid mix is perfect.

They can also be grown in the ground under the shade of overhanging trees as long as the soil has very good drainage.

Here are some popular varieties that you might like to grow.

Aechmea fasciata

Aechmea fasciata Bromeliad | Plant varieties

This stunning species has large, leathery pale green leaves that have white markings. The flowers are actually bracts and on this species, they are a gorgeous pale pink in colour.

At the top of this colourful bract, small purple actual flowers will appear. The coloured bracts last for quite a long time and these make a lovely addition to your garden and can also be grown in pots.

Other Aechmea varieties to look out for include:

  • Aechmea chantinii
  • Aechmea fosteriana
  • Aechmea ‘Del Mar’

Vriesea

Vriesea Bromeliads | Plant varieties

This interesting species of bromeliad has outstanding flower spikes that are sword-shaped and usually in colours of red and yellow.

They make a very eye-catching contrast to the dark green long arching leaves.

This species prefers warm temperatures with high humidity. However, it can also handle cooler climates and makes a great indoor plant. 

Guzmania lingulata

Guzmania lingulata Bromeliad | Plant varieties

This is another outstanding species and shows you just how diverse these plants are. This species has long and arching mid-green leaves.

The colourful bracts grow from the centre and have a somewhat fountain appearance. These bracts are a brilliant red colour and tiny yellow flowers will appear at the tip.

An interesting fact about this and many other bromeliads is that the plant will die once the flowers have finished. But don’t worry. Before this, you’ll notice tiny new plants growing from the base of the plant.

These are commonly referred to as pups and will take over from the parent plant to give you another brilliant display the following season.

Neoregelia carolinae ‘Blushing Bromeliad’

Neoregelia carolinae ‘Blushing Bromeliad | Plant varieties

Most people would be familiar with this species. It has broad fleshy leaves that are arranged in a whorl. The base of the leaves is red while the tips are bright green.

There are many varied species and cultivars in this group of bromeliads. Some have mottled green and white leaves while others will display variegated or striped leaves.

Billbergia

Billbergia Bromeliad | Plant varieties

These are slightly different to the other types of bromeliads mentioned so far, in that the leaves have a more upright growth habit and are often narrower.

The flower spikes on these bromeliads grow from the centre and rise above the foliage. The flowers at the top of the spikes are pendulous and can be brightly coloured. 

Common flower colours include pink, red, purple and blue. Unfortunately, the colours don’t last as long as the coloured bracts on other types of bromeliads. 

However, this group of plants can be grown in most parts of the country as long as they’re not exposed to heavy frosts.

Tillandsia

Tillandsia Bromeliad | Plant varieties

Tillandsias are true air plants. This means that they are commonly attached to pieces of wood that can be hung from the branches of trees. You’ll also find that many people hang these in sheltered spots on fences.

The species in this group are quite varied and have light green or even variegated leaves. The leaves are usually much thinner than other types of bromeliads.

This is one type of bromeliad that can be grown in full sun or just light shade. The flowers appear on delicate spikes and come in a range of colours.

The most common species in this group of bromeliads is Tillandsia usneoides ‘Old Man’s Beard’.

Cryptanthus

Cryptanthus Bromeliad | Plant varieties

This group of bromeliads has wide star-shaped leaves that are arranged in a whorl. They form low-growing rosettes that spread easily.

This group grows best in warm climates.

Alcantarea

Alcantarea Bromeliad | Plant varieties

This group can make quite a stunning impact in your garden with its very large rosettes created by broad, fleshy leaves.

Ananas

Ananas Bromeliad | Plant varieties

Did you know that the pineapple plant is actually a bromeliad? Pineapple plants grown commercially are the species Ananas comusus

And, you can grow these in your own garden! If you can find a pineapple at a farmer’s market that still has its top intact, you can just cut off the top and plant it in a pot. 

It should produce roots and may eventually grow another pineapple.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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