Bromeliads are tropical plants belonging to the pineapple family or genus Bromeliaceae. There are pproximately 2,500 bromeliad species, plus several thousand hybrids and cultivars. Some bromeliads, also known as epiphytes, grow on trees that they use for support, rather than food. Tank-type bromeliads feed through their leaves or a tank formed by the flower or leaf formation, while other bromeliads feed through their roots.
Aechmea are tank-type epiphytes, meaning they grow up high on a tree, but feed through the leaves using the tank formed at the center to hold water. These species require bright light to grow. Choose from the nearly 200 species of Aechmea that have broad, bowl-shaped rosettes with arching leaves to plant in your tropical garden or indoors.
Pick from solid, spotted, striped or banded leathery, strap-like leaves. Aechmea's leaves have sharp teeth on the margins. Look for the characteristic cylindrical, cone-like pendant with colorful bracts, ranging from pink, orange and red with blue, yellow and black flowers. Flowers may show bright red or blue, fleshy berries.
Cryptanthus have star-shaped rosettes that, unlike Aechmea, do not hold water. Derived from the words "cryptos" and "anthos," Cryptanthus means "hidden flower."
Choose from the 50 species and several hundred hybrids of Cryptanthus for your tropical garden. Most growers prefer the Crypthanthus for its foliage that has succulent leaves with toothed margins. These species have banded leaves that may be frosted gray, white or bronze. Note the appearance of zigzag or irregular bands on the foliage that show prominently.
Cryptanthus bromeliads love moisture, and do well in terrariums.
Most Guzmania species are tank bromeliads with leaves that are dark green, shiny and have smooth margins. Grow Guzmania indoors, or in a shady part of your garden; they do well in low-light conditions. Choose Guzmania bromeliads for their fountain-like inflorescences with brightly-colored bracts that appear in various shades of yellow, green, purple or red. Pick flowering Guzmania for blooms that will last for months.