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One of the common names for this bromeliad group is ‘Heart of Flame’. This aptly describes the way the plant’s centre colours in order to attract pollinating insects to the insignificant flowers.
The best-known bromeliad, pineapple, grows in humid, frost-free climates. It can take two years for the fruit to develop and ripen. In cool climates, the pineapple can be grown as a scene stealing indoor plant.
Billbergia Nutans is one of the easiest bromeliads to grow. ‘Nutans’ means ‘nodding’, and is used to describe the drooping flower stems. It will grow indoors or out and, as long as the soil is well-drained, is tough enough to handle light frosts.
Spanish moss, or old man’s beard (Tillansdia usneoides), can survive on the moisture and oxygen it captures from the surrounding air. It doesn’t need any soil and can be draped from any convenient position in a warm, humid, lightly shaded position. The greatest threat it faces is from passing birds – they love to steal sections of the soft plant to line their nests!
The most popular aechmeas have blue-grey leaves and a central clump of jewel-like mauve flowers that hide themselves amongst pink bracts.