Houseplant of the Month: Bromeliads

After a little break we’re returning to our favourite author Juliana Crow (1952) for the low down on Bromeliads.  In her own words:

“Bromeliads are among the perfect house plants, being indifferent to sun or shadow, and lovely in shape, colour, foliage and flower.  They are careless of neglect and survive for months without any attention at all.”

This is high praise for someone who doesn’t hold back on saying what she really thinks. She calls them ‘air pines’ since they will live on ‘trees, posts, telephone wires, roof shingles, rocks – anything that will afford them an anchorage,’ and speaks of ‘persons of no taste’ using them as ‘living vases’, filling them with cut flowers (odd AND tasteless in our minds too).


Juliana gives us an extensive list of more than 30 plants, talking of jewel colours and coloured fire to describe the flowers, and marbled and stained-glass leaves. Many are very familiar to us nowadays, including pineapple, Urn Plant and the ubiquitous Scarlet Star.  The ‘painted fingernail‘ appealed to me on the name alone.

She advocates watering with rain water and bathing occasionally to remove dust.  But her best advice?  “Since the naming is in such a muddle the best course to take in buying a bromeliad is to pick one you like and never mind the label.”  Here, here.

See the Joy of Plants for more care and styling tips – Bromeliads are house plant of the month in March.