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Bromeliads: An Introduction

Updated on July 8, 2016

Bromeliads are a most wonderful family of plants, worshipped by anyone stung by the extremely infectious bromeliad bee. Over the world almost any gardener must have a few bromeliads or he/she is not a true flower lover.

The bromeliad family has a rather unspectacular flower, but the inflorescence (the stalk containing the flowers) is often covered with dozens of small colorful flowers. Some species have dozens of elegant little flowers in a rosette (leaves growing around a flowered center) blooming one at a time over several months. Plant sizes range from small fit-in-your-hand species to those with spectacular foliage measuring four feet across. Many are epiphytes (attached to another living plant) which are sometimes called air plants, and many grow in the ground. Many species get some of their water out of the humid air and others store water in their rosette. Leaves are colorful with different shades of greens, oranges, reds, and yellows.

In general, these plants are easy to maintain indoors or outside, and they are continuing to gain in popularity. They make great houseplants and can take unfavorable growing conditions. Two very diverse species that you might recognize are the pineapple and Spanish moss.

Learn more about using bromeliads in your landscaping here.

Learning about Bromeliads: Societies

Bromeliad societies offer great information on their websites. Below are some of the major societies and their purpose for being. Each of them has a website where you can find information on culture, taxonomy, cultivars, online discussions, related links, worldwide conferences, and more. The local societies offer monthly meetings where they have a speaker and share bromeliad information and you can obtain new bromeliads. Most of them publish a newsletter that helps to keep the membership together. If you are fortunate enough to live near a city that has a bromeliad society, be sure to join and involve yourself with some of the most pleasant and supportive plant lovers you can find.

The Bromeliad Society International

The Bromeliad Society International (BSI) is the society of all of the bromeliad societies. It maintains several helps for bromeliad growers that is as close to absolute as you can find. The BSI also publishes an excellent journal, Journal of the Bromeliad Society, that is beneficial both for the amateur and the research scientist. The Journal is the primary publication for describing new species of bromeliads as well as scholarly cultural method articles. It is an especially well-run society. You probably will want to join this society as you are becoming a bromeliad lover.

The stated purpose of the Bromeliad Society International is to promote and maintain public and scientific interest in the research, development, preservation, and distribution of bromeliads, both natural and hybrid, throughout the world.


Bromeliad Society of Houston

The Bromeliad Society of Houston is an active society with goals to Increase knowledge of bromeliads through interchange and dissemination of information. Of special concern is the publication of information helpful for the culture of bromeliads. Follows is one example of their work.


The Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies

The Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies (FCBS) serves the bromeliad enthusiasts of Florida and the Internet community. All the Florida societies belong to this society. They have a quite excellent website presenting cultural information, a good photo index, several databases, weevil information and reliable classification/taxonomy research.

Florida has several species of bromeliads, and enthusiasts can study them in the wild. Many of the plants have disappeared, but the FCBS is trying to save those that are left. Right now they are working hard to save Florida bromeliads from the Mexican Bromeliad (Evil) Weevil.

Sarasota Bromeliad Society

The Sarasota Bromeliad Society is an active society that has the distinction of being related to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and the late Harry Luther who was the foremost researcher of bromeliad taxonomy.

Below are a few of the things they offer from their website:

  • You will Learn How To Grow and Flower Beautiful Bromeliads.
  • Our members can use our Library of Reference Books.
  • You will gain access to our “Members Only” Website Area.
  • You'll receive access to The List of Bromeliad Binomials, 12th Edition.
  • We have fun Monthly Meetings with Informative Programs.


Sunshine Coast Bromeliad Society

The Sunshine Coast Bromeliad Society in south eastern Queensland Australia, encourages and educates hobbyists in the cultivation and propagation of Bromeliads. They hold monthly general meetings, field days and bus trips where members and visitors can view other growers’ collections. They want to welcome all bromeliad enthusiasts and plant lovers to communicate and attend their friendly & informative monthly meetings.

The objectives of the association are:

  • To promote good fellowship among all people interested in the culture of bromeliads and in horticulture generally.

  • To further the knowledge and advancement of all that pertains to bromeliads, including their natural history, conservation, cultivation and hybridisation.

  • To disseminate information about bromeliads and carry out educational and research activities into all aspects of the family Bromeliaceae.


The Bromeliad Society of Australia

Australia has very enthusiastic bromeliad societies, and The Bromeliad Society of Australia is one of their top societies. This site has an excellent photo index and extremely informative conferences. Be sure to read about the study works of Bromeliad Detective Derek Butcher, who is one of the world's foremost bromeliad researcher .

List of Societies

You can find out if there is a bromeliad society near you by perusing the list found on the BSI website. See here.

Bromeliad Nurseries

Michael's Bromeliads

"Michael's Bromeliads was established in 1988 as a mail order nursery and remains a family operation dedicated to providing quality bromeliads to collectors and enthusiasts world wide. Our collection has grown to include nearly 1900 varieties of bromeliads from over 40 genera. Our online store will feature many popular and easy to grow varieties and will be updated continually. If you like, you may also view a listing of our entire collection at the 'Our Collection' page. You can inquire about specific plants by using the 'Contact Us' page. We hope you enjoy our site and come back often."

I am well acquainted with Michaels Bromeliads Nursery. Their greenhouses contain hundreds of popular species and cultivars. Healthy, beautiful plants are Michael's specialty. He is constantly cultivating new varieties and is willing to share them with bromeliad enthusiasts everywhere. Give Michaels Bromeliads a try; you will be satisfied.


"Once upon a time some forty years ago I was an amateur herpetologist (reptile fancier) who, by accident of fate, met my first bromeliad on a collecting trip to Mexico. I never suspected at the time that this chance encounter would someday change my life. On subsequent trips south, bromeliads became more and more objects of interest, and after an extended trip to Costa Rica in 1968, a place where bromeliads of brilliant hues beckoned like jewels in the verdant jungles, bromeliads started to become a fascination on par with the reptiles. A small collection soon followed and nurtured by Florida sun and rain, slowly grew into an OBSESSION. Face it, some of you out there reading this can relate. There are never enough new varieties and the plant you like the most is the one you don't have yet. Taking complete control of all free time, the growing collection required the conversion of a porch to a fiberglass-roofed plant room and then the construction of a small greenhouse before eventually becoming the dominant plant in the landscape."

Tropiflora is a large Florida bromeliad and orchid nursery. Dennis Cathcart, the owner, has led the way in making bromeliads the popular ornamental plant it is today. He has traveled the western hemisphere looking for new species to introduce to BROMELIAD enthusiasts. Look at their online site and maybe become a VIPP member; then, give them a try; you'll be pleased with the wonderful service.

Recommended Bromeliad Books


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