Bromeliads for the Treasure Coast- Divide and Conquer

I have learned a great deal about Bromeliads since starting my garden four years ago. Prior to moving to Florida, I only knew a few varieties of Bromeliads and this was from designing shopping mall interiors in the eighties. Guzmanias were (and still are) a great plant for interiorscape. Oddly enough, while they will grow here, I have no Guzmanias. I think they are kind of boring. I like the kind of indestructible, passalong, highly reproductive Bromeliads. The kinds you don’t see in shopping malls. The more unusual the Bromeliad, the better. This could prove to be a bad idea in the long run. I could grow really old here and end up with Martian Planet landscape.

Bromeliads above are: the flower of a Painted Fingernail Aechmea, a common passalong in South Florida, the spotted one is a common Neoregelia (from a garage sale) of some sort, the burgundy one is Burgundy Aechmea. The below Bromeliad is a ‘Blanchetiana’, another Aechmea passed along to me from a neighbor. All thrive here with little care.

My latest venture in the garden has been to add swirling patterns of shells and rocks weaving through the garden. First, I like shells and rocks and second, I detest mulch, not for looks, but for me having to schlep bags of bark through the yard – usually when the weather is tropical steaming. I really just won’t do it and go back inside and plot some other indoor task. The result of this is weedy unkempt beds. So the strands of rocks and shells are being woven through the garden and ribbons of groundcover and tightly planted perennials are going to be installed to hopefully cut down on the maintenance (weeding) and the mulching. I have placed cardboard boxes under all of it to hopefully break the weed cycle.

The correct time of year to divide Bromeliads is the beginning of the growing season, which in South Florida is Fall/ Winter. I have been working on doing this and have divided several and (here’s a surprise) bought some pups last week at the botanical garden. Neoregelia Martin and the popular Blanchtiana Aechmeas have been divided and installed in their shell garden. Both these Bromeliads flourish in full sun, the Blanchetianas are available in Orange, Lemon and Raspberry. I have an Orange and Lemon, I am not quite sure about the Raspberry. The divided Bromeliads are in the left picture; here is a close up of Martin, who is a Neoregelia – doesn’t flower, but the foliage and sun tolerance make Martin worthwhile to have in the garden.

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I am trudging onward in dividing, but have yet to conquer.

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Nom de Plume-Brazilian Plume

Brazilian Plume

Brazilian Plume – Justicia carnea

The truth is, I guess I have a Nom de Plume, not relative to how recently I learned to spell the word. I am, after all, from Tucker, Georgia, USA, and for the most part we do not speak French. Or Italian, for that matter. I foolishly took Italian in college, not realizing that my Southern accent would render it, for me, near impossible to trill R’s. Think Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.. With an Italian accent, if you are not laughing now, you should be. Maybe not, Vivien Leigh was indeed English and I don’t really sound like that, at all. Fortunately, my mother did, kind of. Italians just laughed at me and said “we do not understand your southern dialetto” or something like that. Eventually I successfully ordered a glass of white wine.

Brazilian Plume

Brazilian Plume

My Nom de Plume is The Shrub Queen, but today I am writing about a different plume, one in my garden, The Brazilian Plume, nope, not the wax, not the butt, the plant. I had seen these on the internet and was in search of one. Living in South Florida and the time was winter (All the disposable income in North America is Here) I found one at a garden show a bit north of here and grabbed it.

As these things sometimes go, I left it in the yard, for a while, sporadically watering it..hmm, hmm, hmm, then noticed it had a really, really terrible case of scale and whitefly (i.e. nearly dead) Well, that just wouldn’t do, so I cut it back, treated it, and miraculously cured it. After spending a month in the Garden ICU, the Plume is ready to go in the garden. These supposedly grow to be 7 feet tall and wide. I think that is a little more than 2 meters for metric users. I just need to decide where to put it.

Here are the other things blooming in the garden:

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We have a bit of fragrance going now and while I am enjoying the Florida Gardenia, it is about 10 feet tall and is never so covered in flowers the smell knocks you over – I am glad the romantic sounding Arabian Jasmine is a fair distance away, it’s like that guy you know who uses so much aftershave he can’t tell it is too much anymore.

The Blue Plumbago is the Hydrangea of the tropics and so much easier to grow. That Hibiscus is an old fashioned variety planted by my neighbor’s grandmother on the edge of the property. If I knew what it was I would search for another.