How many bromeliads?

Certain plants are addictive. One might argue that any group of plants can be addictive depending on the individual. Societies are formed based on these mutual addictions: rock garden societies, primula societies, orchid societies, magnolia societies, etc. While I tend not to be a "join the club" kind of person, I do have my own addictions. One of them is bromeliads. I was recently inspired by a bout of madness to actually count my bromeliads. Until then, I had some deniability. Now, there's no way I can call it anything else but a fixation.

So what's my current count? Well, the number is a tad swelled at the moment, as I'm rooting a small crop of Cryptanthus pups. At least I pawned a few off on some fellow plant addicts at the Portland garden bloggers' fall plant swap. I had hoped to get rid of more of them, but most hadn't rooted yet. Well, no more putting it off. Ok, here goes. Here it is. Right here.

Ok, fine! My grand total is 80 individual bromeliads, with 50 different types. Are you happy now? I may have a problem. I'd just like to point out that about 15 of those are Cryptanthus pups that I'm rooting to give away, and another 28 are Tillandsia (about 20 different types) and those don't really count because they don't even need soil, right?....Right? So if you think about it, I only really have around 30. That's logical, isn't it? No? Well then I reject your reality and substitute my own.

The following is a smattering of my collection. Posting them all at once would simply be too much, and I haven't taken the time yet to figure out the collage thing that some other bloggers do.

This summer, I ordered seven new bromeliads from Seabreeze Nurseries in Florida, and picked up a few locally. Below on the left is Orthophytum gurkenii. On the left side of the photo on the right (you follow?) is Billbergia 'Tinkerbell', and to Tink's right is Billbergia 'Pipeline'. I was amazed that they sent me a 'Tinkerbell' that was about to bloom. This cross is half Billbergia nutans, which is the most reliable bloomer out of the handful of bromeliads I've grown, so I was hoping 'Tinkerbell' would inherit that trait.

This is an as yet un-named hybrid Neoregelia. The cross is 'Royal Burgundy' x cyanea. I'm not sure how I feel about it, yet. I'm hoping it will look like the picture on the website, here, when it grows up, but maybe this cross is a variable one.

I was disappointed with this one, at first. Neoregelia 'Justin's Song' x 'Hula Girl #39'. It was a rather drab olive-y green when I first unpacked it, but in the last few weeks it has not only started growing fast, but producing at least some of the colorful patterning that made me drool over it. It's in a south-facing window now. I'm looking forward to seeing it really color up outside next summer. Click here for the website picture. See why I had to have it?

 You can see most of my latest mail-order bromeliads here. The one shown just above is on the far left. This was before it had started producing the colorful leaves. To the right of that is Cryptanthus 'Hawaiian Starshine'. In front and to the right is Cryptanthus 'Lou Trahan' and Orthophytum gurkenii. Behind them are Neoregelia 'Royal Burgundy' x cyanea and Neoregelia 'Royal Burgundy' x 'Fireball'.

Another recent purchase, this one from Fred Meyers, is this unnamed Guzmania hybrid. Guzmanias are fast-growing and tolerant of fairly low light, making them good bromeliads to grow as houseplants and more likely to rebloom every year or so for those of us who live in cool climates.

I also purchased this dwarf Aechmea chantinii (or is it Aechmea zebrina?) from Fred Meyers. The bloom is gorgeous, and still looks good two months after I bought it, but the main draw is those beautiful leaves!

 I've shown my Vriesea ospinae-gruberi (left) and Vriesea 'Splenriet' (right) before. They are still two of my favorites. I'm still unsure of the identity of the larger one. It's so much bigger than the form I saw at Longwood Gardens, but then many bromeliads have different forms that grow to varying sizes, and sometimes patterns and colors.

Dyckia choristaminea 'Frazzle Dazzle' is hardy to zone 8a, but, being cautious, I grow mine in a container and will put it in the greenhouse for winter. It has lots of little offsets just beginning to form around the base.

Quesnelia marmorata is one of my absolute favorites. This is a plant that I will never voluntarily relinquish or dispose of.

This summer I finally picked up a Tillandsia xerographica. I think it's almost as big as all the rest of my tillandsia combined. Well, maybe half of them.

Speaking of half as big, and an excellent illustration of my point about bromeliad species coming in forms with different sizes, here we have a giant and miniature form of Tillandsia bulbosa. Can you guess which is which?

I've killed Guzmania musaica once, with the help of a horrendously dark and dry apartment in Wisconsin, but I love it so much I had to try again. It was one of the first plant purchases I made when I returned to the PNW in April. It loved summer in the greenhouse, and the two pups seem to be growing along just fine indoors.

This photo gives a better view of the aechmea and Neoregelia 'Royal Burgundy' x 'Fireball'.

The flowers on Billbergia 'Tinkerbell' opening, and a close-up of the flowers. The two billbergias are possibly my favorites from that order. I love the upright, narrow vases and the complex patterns of spots, marbling, and colors, especially on 'Pipeline' which has both spots and stripes.

Cryptanthus lacerdae 'Menescal' is up to four pups now. You can't see it here, but the stolon that will produce the first pup is now several inches long. It's not growing fast, but it is growing. I can't wait for it to really mature. The pups of this plant hang on stolons which can be quite long, looking like the coolest spider plant ever.

My latest find, this unnamed Cryptanthus came from Portland Nursery on Division St. The wide, wavy leaves are marked randomly with darker green, and the central leaves have red edges and a red blush. With stronger light, the red coloration would probably spread. Cryptanthus hybrids can be almost impossible to identify, because they change so much depending on their growing conditions.

The faint rivers of silver trichomes down the center of each leaf helps. It reminds me most of a hybrid called 'Earth Angel' but there are at least two things that don't match. The trichomes are only along the center of the leaves, rather than over the whole surface, and there are several pups coming from the base of the plant. The pictures I've seen of 'Earth Angel' show pups emerging near the top of the plant. My curatorial training yearns for a name for this beauty, but the plant addict in me is content simply to ogle it and wonder how the colors will change if I give it more light.

I've also started a bit of a Sansevieria collection. Along with my mystery Cryptanthus, I picked up several new Sansevieria that I'll have to show you, along with my other plants. There's so much more to the genus than the common snake plant (not that there's anything wrong with the basic Sansevieria trifasciata). Thankfully, I've only just started amassing that collection, so I'll be able to show the whole thing in one post. Is there a group of plants that you collect? Inside or out? Look around, do some counting (if you're brave enough). You might have started a collection without even realizing it. 


  1. The first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem so kudos to you. Wait, do you want to recover? Bromeliads are favorites of mine too and you're right, tillandsias don't count as they hang out on other plants or act as decorations, take up little space, and are relatively undemanding. Bromeliads are very resilient plants and have survived my abuse with aplomb earning them a special place in my heart. Reading the title of your post, I was going to say that whatever you do, don't go to the Seabreeze website. Since you already have found Seabreeze, your addiction is now at the irreversible stage so you should just enjoy it! I love Seabreeze and have made multiple orders that were never submitted as there are so many must haves on their site and it's difficult to choose. Since you've shown such great plants from them, I'll definitely actually send an order next time I'm there lusting after plants. Still in denial, I don't count plants as it would cause me to have to face my own addiction but bromeliads and agaves, a dash of unusual succulents and cacti, begonias, a few sansevieria and anything with an interesting leaf color, shape or size pretty much sums up my collection. Somehow there are a few (4) orchids creeping in but I refuse to like them! Your Fred Meyer Aechmea chantinii (or is it Aechmea zebrina?) made me smile as I got the same at our Fred Meyer just last week. Mine has a tightly-closed bloom stalk starting to emerge from the center but I loved the foliage. Looking forward to seeing your sansevieria post!

    1. They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said "No, no, no!" Yes, I love how tough bromeliads are. I have been worrying about some of my newest ones a bit because they're still rooting in. I'm a lost cause. I stumbled across Seabreeze several years ago while searching for my Quesnellia marmorata, which I ordered from them. I've only ordered twice, but I've been pleased overall. Some things come a bit small, or a bit different than pictured, but there isn't much to complain about. Just be warned, plants arrive bareroot, and sometimes have little or no roots, but they usually root quickly. I make wishlists and agonize over each item, slowly narrowing it down, then adding a few and repeating the process, until I have a reasonable number. I am, unfortunately, the type that occasionally counts things. I think I'll sink back into denial and float there awhile. :)

  2. You don't have a problem - you have a collection. (Of course, I may have been influenced by my mother who once told he that she wasn't a hoarder, she was a collector.) Your collection is beautiful. I'm impressed by bromeliads and have several but the price tags keep my collector tendencies in check. We also have very few local sellers who stalk anything but the most ordinary varieties.

    1. Your mother had the right idea. Being a realist, I admit to being both a hoarder and a collector. At least I hoard pretty things that produce oxygen. The price tag is why almost half of my collection is tillandsias and cryptanthus, or earth stars, though even some of the earth stars are a bit expensive. There aren't many local sellers in my area, either, though I've seen Peter find some pretty amazing ones up around Seattle and Tacoma, and I think Portland has a few such treasures hidden away, too.

  3. Well first of all I don't think there is anything crazy about having 80 Bromeliads, even before you rationalized some of them away. I counted my agaves once, years ago. I should probably do it there's a crazy addiction. They hate our climate and are mean...what was I thinking?

    I love that Vriesea ospinae-gruberi so much...if it ever goes missing, well....

    Also I think it's fabulous that your not a plant collecting snob, buying Bromeliads at a grocery store after all!

    1. Yes, at least my bromeliads are friendly, for the most part. The billbergias are the toothiest of the bunch, and those are a far cry from Agave spines. I bet you won't give them up, though!

      If I ever get a smaller form of that Vriesea, you can have the giant. ;)

      Oh, I started out with a lot of grocery store houseplants, and might still grow more if my local stores had better taste (hmm, there's some snobbishness). Usually there isn't much selection, but once in a while I find something I like.

  4. Definitely a collector. Otherwise you'll need a support group. Actually blogging serves as a support group of sorts, doesn't it?
    You have many beauties in your collection, some I hadn't seen since my days working in a plant shop.

    1. Haha! Blogging is an ENABLING group, not a support group! I have wishlists of plants that would fill volumes.

  5. This qualifies as a magnificent obsession. I seem to gravitate to Kalanchloes and Aloes but space constraints prevent me from indulging to your extent. I dropped off the Acanthus and Kniphofia for you on Tuesday. I was on a short leash so didn't stick around to make sure they found their way to you.

    1. Thank you so much for the plants! Sorry you didn't have time to visit. I just bought a Kalanchoe rhombopilosa today at Garden Fever. I've been wanting one for months, debating whether to order one online, and was so happy to see it there!

  6. Well, I can see why they fascinate you - they are very wonderful plants with highly interesting forms, and Orthophytum gurkenii is especially beautiful!

    1. They're so diverse. Some don't even look like bromeliads as most people think of them (including me). I can't wait for the Orthophytum to grow up and produce its amazing bloom stalk, though in the meantime I love to look at the leaves.


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