Brighten Up Your Shade Gardens
By LMG Calla Victoria
Usually when we think of shade gardens, we consider planting hostas and a few other plants that can survive in those low-light conditions. In most cases shade-loving plants don’t give you an explosion of color that you get from sun-living plants. However there is an exception to that rule, bromeliads are shade-loving and can provide technicolor interest in a shady area. Many of the species are epiphytes, meaning they don’t even need soil to grow so they can be nestled in the branches of a tree or attached to almost anything. The epiphytes are commonly known as “air plants’ because they can survive on the humidity in the air for nourishment. However the ones that are not in soil must be misted daily to prosper if kept indoors. If kept outdoors, you don’t have to do anything to them because the dew and humidity will give them all they need.
The neoregelia species of the bromeliad family has the largest varieties of plant specimens of all of the bromeliads, and includes every color of the rainbow from the brightest yellows to the deepest hues of wine and purple. Neos are coveted for their colorful foliage and not for their blooms, which are hardly visible and sets down deep in the cup of the plant resembling a pin cushion. Other species of bromeliads with lack luster foliage, boast amazing blooms that can last for months. Then still other bromeliads have interesting textures and shapes. One of my personal favorites is the Quesnelia ‘Tim Plowman.’ It has very tall stiff spotted foliage that forms a deep tight curl at the very top; it reminds me of a tall vase. When it blooms it sends out a hot pink inflorescence that really stands out against the dusty gray-green mottled foliage. Then there are the Crypthantus variety of bromeliads that are called “earth stars” because they really look like starfish with variegated, ruffled, delicate foliage. All bromeliads all no-care if kept outside and minimal care if kept indoors.
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Remember, never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!