What different kinds of Bromeliads exist?

The traits of the primary varieties and tips for their care

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By Alex

bromeliad varieties

Bromeliads thrive in warm and temperate climates, with various types exhibiting differences in flower colors, shapes, and leaf structures.

Let’s find out what the different types of Bromeliads are and their distinctive characteristics

Originating from Latin America, Bromeliads are evergreen plants which are easy to cultivate and well-suited for domestic environments. While most varieties form rosette-shaped leaves and modified bract flowers, they generally prefer ample light but not direct sunlight.

Though some Bromeliad varieties withstand cooler temperatures, it’s advisable to bring them indoors during winter, placing them in a sheltered spot away from direct exposure.

The different kinds of Bromeliads

The term “Bromeliad” encompasses a diverse group of plant species within the Bromeliad family, each distinguished by unique characteristics such as leaf shape, flower type, and overall appearance. Despite these differences, Bromeliads, in general, are undemanding and easy to care for.

Guzmania

One notable variety is the Guzmania, hailing from Colombia and Ecuador. As an epiphytic plant, Guzmania grows on other plants and features long, pointed leaves that create a central rosette for collecting rainwater. Guzmania flowers stand out as some of the most distinctive and breathtaking among tropical plants.

The numerous types of Guzmania showcase varying flower colors, all characterized by modified bracts.

Bromeliads: Guzmania flowers
Guzmania flowers stand out as some of the most characteristic and stunning among tropical plants

In its full flowering state, the plant typically reaches a height of around 30 centimeters. Now, let’s delve into the various types, specifying the color of the flowers or bracts for each:

  • G. Lingulata or “Incense Flower”: Red or orange
  • G. Athena: Pink
  • G. Conifer: Orange with yellow tips
  • G. Blitz: Red
  • G. Hope: Red with white tips
  • G. Hilda: Yellow
  • G. Maryan: Orange
  • G. Ostara: Bright red
  • G. Kronos: Purple
  • G. Optima: Bright red
  • G. Passion: Purple-red
  • G. Torch: Red with orange tips
  • G. Soledo: Red and yellow
  • G. Theresa: Orange and red

Bromeliad Pineapple

Bromeliad Pineapple refers to a variety of Bromeliad that produces small ornamental fruits at its center, resembling a pineapple but with a slightly darker hue than the commonly known pineapple.

Aechmea

Aechmea stands out as a distinctive presence among the various varieties of Bromeliads. First introduced to Europe in the early 19th century, Aechmea comes in a wide range of colors, including red, pink, red-orange, and purple-red.

The name “Aechmea” is derived from the Greek term meaning “spearhead.” Some species exhibit distinct lines, while others feature berries that undergo a color change.

variety brmomeliad: aechmea
Aechmea fasciata

It thrives in relatively dry soils, requiring watering only a couple of times a week.

  • Aechmea “Del Mar” is a vertically growing perennial featuring a rosette of glaucous-green leaves. Its flowers, lasting approximately seven months, can exhibit shades of dark red and purple, violet and blue, with white sepals. This variety prefers humid climates and bright exposure but should be shielded from direct sunlight. During the summer, it benefits from abundant watering.
  • Aechmea fasciata, also known as “mother-in-law’s tongue,” “piñuela,” or “bromeliad fasciata,” is native to Brazil. Forming rosettes with green leaves and a white upper surface, it produces pink spikes adorned with small blue/purple flowers.
  • Aechmea Primera is an exceptionally elegant Bromeliad type. Its shiny, mottled grey/green leaves form a rosette, and from its center emerges a spike-shaped inflorescence. This inflorescence is characterized by numerous small flowers surrounded by rigid, colored bracts.

Neoregelia Bromeliad

Originating from Brazil, the Neoregelia Bromeliad stands out as one of the most captivating varieties, thanks to the picturesque appearance of its leaves. In its natural habitat, it thrives on tree branches, forming rosettes of tapered leaves, which can be green, variegated, or tricolored.

The flowers take the form of a globular inflorescence, composed of bracts in shades of crimson red, pink, orange, or purple-red. While it can withstand cool temperatures, it is not frost-tolerant. Whether grown in pots or in the garden, a recommended substrate includes pumice or pine bark.

Neoregelia Bromeliad
Neoregelia Bromeliad

Bromeliad Varieties: Vriesea

This variety, native to Trinidad, the Guianas, and eastern Venezuela, features green tapered leaves with lighter stripes, forming rosettes. The plant typically reaches a height of around 40 centimeters. It thrives in abundant light but not direct sunlight, requiring well-draining soil. Protection from intense cold is essential.

What makes Vriesea remarkable is the extensive array of available colors. Below, we’ll outline some of the most common species.

  • Astrid: Red flower
  • Gigantea: Variety with considerable dimensions
  • Davine: Yellow flower with an orange central part
  • Saundersii: Bright yellow flower
  • Draco: Orange flower with a yellow edge
  • Style: Bright red flower

Bromeliad Tillandsia

Tillandsia grows from the southern United States to northern Argentina, and also in environments such as deserts and rainforests. Almost completely rootless, this plant grows on trees (epiphytic plant) or on rocks (lithophyte). It has narrow and pointed green or greyish leaves.

bromeliad tillandsia
Bromeliad tillandsia

Tillandsia usneoides

Commonly known as “Spanish moss,” “old man’s beard,” or “úcar’s beard,” Tillandsia usneoides is a distinctive Bromeliad and one of the most cultivated varieties due to its unique appearance. Growing on the branches of other plants in America, it features thin, flexible stems that can reach up to 1 meter in length.

Small curved leaves, measuring 5-6 centimeters, emerge from these stems. Its unique aesthetics make Tillandsia usneoides a popular decorative material, often used as a hanging green element, such as in mobile decorations.

Thriving in a temperate climate, this Bromeliad does well in both full sun and partial shade. It thrives on humidity and benefits from regular spraying.

Impressively, Tillandsia usneoides is highly resilient, withstanding temperatures as low as -18ºC (0ºF)!

EXPLORE: Which plants are most resistant to cold?

Billbergia

Originating from the tropical virgin forests stretching from Mexico to southern Brazil and the northern part of Argentina, Billbergia boasts a spectacular cluster of flowers in various colors, including pink, purple, yellow, blue, white, and green.

Compared to other Bromeliad types, Billbergia has fewer leaves, which can be green, multicolored, striped, or speckled.

Billbergia Pyramidalis, also known as the “foolproof plant” or “torch plant,” is native to the Caribbean and tropical areas of Northern South America. This variety can grow both as a terrestrial and epiphytic plant, featuring green leathery leaves arranged in a rosette. The scarlet red flowers are grouped in cluster inflorescences.

Bromeliad: Billbergia Pyramidalis
The awesome inflorescences of Billbergia Pyramidalis

Billbergia Pyramidalis thrives in partially shaded areas with a substrate rich in organic matter. It exhibits resilience to cold and frost, enduring temperatures down to a maximum of -1ºC.

Bromelia Nidularium

Originating from Brazil, where it thrives in humid rainforests, Bromelia Nidularium is known for its vibrant yellow flowers. For successful home cultivation, it requires regular watering and should be placed in a location with moderate light.

Serra Bromeliad

Dubbed “chaguar,” the Serra Bromeliad is a terrestrial plant found in the semi-arid regions of the Gran Chaco in South America. Its long, leathery leaves are triangular with green and thorny margins, while the bracts, shorter but similar to the leaves, boast a red/orange hue.

Ideal for hot, dry climates, this species is drought-resistant and can tolerate cold temperatures well (up to a maximum of -4°C). It thrives in sunny exposures.

Bromelia Cryptanthus

Bromelia Cryptanthus is a distinctive member among Bromeliad species, notable for its unique growth pattern as it prefers to thrive on the ground rather than in the epiphytic fashion commonly associated with other members of its family. In contrast to its tree-dwelling counterparts, this Bromeliad species establishes itself firmly in soil, showcasing a fascinating adaptation to a terrestrial habitat.

This characteristic sets Bromelia Cryptanthus apart, making it an intriguing and atypical member within the diverse world of Bromeliads.

Bromeliads: General Cultivation Tips

In general, Bromeliads are robust and versatile plants. They require light but not direct sun exposure. Regular watering near the calyx is essential, and they do not need fertilizer.

As tropical plants, they should be kept indoors during winter, preferably in a shaded corner. Around May, they can be moved outdoors to the garden or balcony.

Aechmea, Pineapple, Billbergia, Neoreglia, and Tillandsia are specifically suitable for outdoor cultivation.

Indicatively, Bromeliad types with thin leaves (Tillandsia) thrive in humid habitats, while those with thick leaves (Aechmea) fare better in dry environments. Species characterized by greyish hair prefer dry climates and direct sun exposure.

More on tropical plants

For enthusiasts of tropical plants, additional guides on growing them are available: