Vriesea Splendide Bromeliad

There are over 250 species in this family which is closely related to tillandsia. These are are ‘tank epiphytes’ ( they collect water in a hollow )

Gently misting the leaves and bloom will help the bloom last longer.

Size: 18″-24″ tall by 24″-36″ wide
Light: low to medium ( filtered light is best )
Temperature: 60’F-80’F
Humidity: high
Water: keep water in the cup

Hybrid, one of the more difficult bromeliads to grow indoors, or outside, it can’t handle the winter cold.

Vriesea are native to forested coastlines in southern Brazil. They began cultivating them in the 1880s

Billbergia Hallelujah bromeliad

Billbergia bromeliads all have the distinctive rosette with few leaves. Leaves have spines, are are patterned. Given more light this one will develop a much more pronounced pattern of white spots on its leaves.

The flower on this has yet to fully open.

These are some of the easiest to grow bromeliads.

They are suitable for pots or hanging containers.


Size: ~12″-18″ tall, 9″-12″ across
Light: medium to high ( can take full sun if gradually adapted to it )
Temperature: 45’F-95F’ (can tolerate 32’F – 120’F for short periods of time )
Humidity: high
Fertilizer: light
Water: keep water in the cup

Genera is named fro Gustavo Billbergia a Swedish botanist. First cultured in 1815 it took 80 years to develop hybrids.

Mulford Foster brought them to popularity in the US during the 1940s

Billbergia are native to Mexico, South and Central America.

Aechmea ‘Del Mar’ bromeliad

Flowers are deep blue and red turning deeper with age and last about 6 months. The leaves have sharp spikes along the edges.

Size: height ~24″, width ~20″
Light: low to med
Water: keep water in central reservoir
Humidity: high
Temperature: 55’F and up
Fertilize: lightly

patented by Bullis Bromeliads
Aechmea means spear
Aechmea family is spread through Mexico and South America, most of the species are epiphytes

Pineapple Lily ( Eucomis )

Both Mercer and the Conroe Master Gardeners had this plant for sale. I grabbed one at each sale. They remind me of bromeliads when not in bloom.

When they flower they will put up 1′-2′ tall spikes that will be covered with small flowers. These are show stoppers, strangers knock on the door to inquire about them.

Eucomis prefer bright sun to part shade and plenty of water, but will rot if cold and wet all winter. They are zoned to 6-7 so winter should not be a problem, summer might be. I find the ones with a lot of sun grow shorter but fuller stalks and longer, larger leaves. The plants that are well watered and receive a several hours of sun are about 18″ high and 24″ across the plant, the stalk is about a foot higher than the leaves.

Plants die back in winter ( freezes are ok), reappear in spring, bloom for 6 weeks.

They did well in the summer heat and did not mind the drought.

Easy on the fertilizer, pineapple lilies are easily burned.

Native to South Africa

These are bulbs, do not separate them until they are very crowded. Plant the bulbs in spring, they should flower by the third year. You can also sow ripe seeds once the ground reaches 60’F. Dried seeds will not grow.

Survived summer 2011 drought and 3 months of 100’F heat

Ball moss ( Tillandsia recurvata )

Tillandsia recurvata is an epiphyte ( air plant ). Epiphytes are plants that grow above the ground, usually on another plant, ball moss can be found growing along electrical lines as well as trees. While ball moss favors oak family trees, it can be found on other species as well.

Ball moss does not harm the trees it grows on. It does favor trees that are not doing well. It uses them as anchors. Many people consider ball moss unsightly and remove it. I don’t mind it. Ball moss is easy to remove from your trees, just use your garden hose sprayer to knock them down. Fungicides that contain copper will kill ball moss, however these leave blue stains on your trees.

Ball moss loves high humidity and you find it more often in Houston proper or south and east of the city than you do up in the north west section. It grows from southern Arizona to southern Texas to southeast Georgia and Florida in humid, wet areas.

It can grow in full sun, but prefers part shade. These are very slow growing plants. Ball moss can handle temperatures down to 20’F. It also prefers locations that are protected from the wind.

Tillandsia recurvata can reach up to 10″ in a clump. Most of the clumps I see around here are just a few inches across. In the fall it sends out long stems that produce small purple flowers.

Propagate by dividing the balls.

Tillandsia plants are part of the bromeliad family and there are at least 400 known species of tillandsia. Most are small plants that are grown for foliage. They grow in warm, wet areas of the world. Some have smooth green leaves, others like ball moss have white scales ( trichomes ). These scales trap and hold water for the plant. Plants go dormant in dry times and can often be re-awakened by a warm shower or rainstorm. The tillansia with white scales can better handle sun than those with the smooth shiny leaves.

Ball moss is especially sensitive to lime, use rain or bottled ( low pH ) water for watering.
They do not like being both wet and cold.
Use only a very weak fertilizer during high growth times.

More information
Floridata: Tillandsia recurvata

Pineapple ( Ananas comosus )


Pineapples can easily grow outside here in Houston. After you’ve cut up a pineapple for serving, trim the remaining fruit away from the bottom of the leaves. Leave it sit on your counter a couple of days to dry. Otherwise the bit of fruit left on the bottom will mold or attract critters who will dig it up.

Then just stick it in the ground and wait. This one was planted about a month ago.

I’ve some locals tell me they get a fruit after a year, some have waited five years and still not gotten a fruit. So there is a bit of luck involved. Your pineapple should bloom and bear fruit its second or third year. If not you can help it along by covering the plant with a large clear plastic bag and placing an apple under the bag with the pineapple. Do this once the cool weather breaks in Feb. or Mar.

Once the plant fruits, it dies, new plants come from offshoots.

Plant it in the sunniest, warmest area of your garden. Pineapples are bromeliads so do not rely on the soil for nutrition. Don’t worry about planting them in bad dirt.

It will rot if the soil it is planted in is too damp, build a small mount to plant it on if necessary to keep it from sitting in water.

Something keeps stealing my pineapples. As quick as I plant them they are absconded with in the dark of night. I’ve taken to placing 4 short stakes about the plants and criss-crossing over the top with string to keep them in place until they get established.

Pineapples will not tolerate a freeze, they must be protected. They also don’t survive 100’F heat or drought.

So far I have not had much luck with pineapples but since they are free ( just just the top off a pineapple you bring home from the market and let it dry a few days before planting ) I will try again this year.

See also:
Pineapple growing in Florida

Blushing Bromeliad ( Neoregelia carolinae )

Blushing Bromeliad

We picked this up at a Mercer sale a couple of months ago. It is settling in just fine. We often find mosquito larvae in the water so a few grains of insecticide or drops of oil have to be added as needed.

It will not survive a frost so must be protected on cool nights or brought in if you have it in a pot. Ours did not winter over. You may want to pop it up and bring it inside when the weather cools down.

It will grow to about 18″ across and send out offsets to form children when happy.

They prefer light shade to full shade. When placed in sunnier locations they grow more spread out, in darker locations they grow more upright.

Tiny purple flowers form in the center where there is water now. You might also find an occasional small frog, toad or lizard hanging out and getting a drink.

Something kept digging this plant up I’m not sure why ?

Bromeliads are epiphytes, which means they do not get nutrients from the soil. The roots they grow are to anchor them in place. They will feed a bit through roots if they have them, but the main source of food is through scales on the leaves.