Bromeliads are members of the pineapple family, Bromeliaceae, and come from tropical parts of the Americas. Many bromeliads are colourful plants and the colour comes either from the flowers or from floral leaves or bracts. They're long flowering, and many types will produce really vibrant displays indoors or out. There are many varieties available in Australia but let's look at three.
Vrieseas are some of my favourite bromeliads. The flower spikes hold their colour for months, and the foliage is soft and often decorative. The flowers are very difficult to see because they are hidden inside the bracts.
Guzmanias have some classic forms of flower. The first looks like a frozen fountain. Some have a beautiful architectural quality. But there are three new varieties coming onto the market - 'Zamora' has a fiery colour and look out for 'Bahia' and 'Limones'.
Neoregelias come in basic colours, spots, stripes and bright coloured tones. Unlike the others, flowers emerge inside a well which has to be kept full of water. They're absolutely stunning plants. But remember they're set to flower when they're sold in garden centres, so in your garden they may flower at different times of the year. However when they flower - wow, what a display.
The way to propagate these three bromeliads is simple. Some bromeliads finish flowering, completely die and need to be propagated from seed. But not these. When the rosette dies there should be pups - two young plants ready for new life - at the bottom. Simply remove the soil to reveal where they grow from the base of the plant, and that's where to make the cut to create a new plant.
The potting mix is important. Use an open mix, such as an orchid potting mix, ready made. It's free draining, so it holds some moisture, but not for too long. They like it moist, but need air around the roots. Don't pack down, then insert the cutting. Remember that these plants have wells which need to be filled with water. The plant needs to be kept moist, in a shady spot and the new plant should be flowering within a year.