If you’re curious about which types of bromeliad plants you should grow, this article should help answer all of your questions.
A family of plants native to tropical North and South America, bromeliads (Bromeliaceae) were first discovered in 1493 – and they haven’t stopped being popular for gardeners ever since!
Transported to areas all over the world, these plants are now grown in tropical and subtropical areas. Many people choose to grow bromeliads indoors, however, so that they can take advantage of these plants’ beauty regardless of the weather.
Once you know how to care for bromeliads, here are a few of the most common types of bromeliads you can start growing:
There are more than 200 different species of Aechmea bromeliads, but all can be grown as houseplants. These plants have leathery, strap-like leaves and bowl-shaped rosettes. Here are some of the most common species.
This common bromeliad is shaped like a funnel and has leaves that curve at the top along with multiple blue flowers inside a pink spike. It’s often referred to as the “Silver Vase” for its vase-like form.
Another popular type of Aechmea is A. fendleri. It is unique in that it produces blue berries in addition to purple bracts and light green rosettes.
Aechmea ‘Foster’s Favorite’
This variety forms an upright rosette with bright red leaves. It also produces pear-shaped berries and deep blue flowers.
If you are interested in growing a plant that is just as attractive for its foliage as it is for its flowers, A. chantinii is the way to go. It has red bracts with yellow tips along with branched spikes at the end of the flower stalks.
The name looks more like “bananas,” but Ananas is a genera of bromeliads that is often referred to as ornamental pineapple. This group produces large plants with long leaves – up to five feet long, in some cases! The plants require rich soil, lots of moisture, and regular feeding.
These plants can be propagated from pups or by planting the topknot of the fruit (something that the plant shares in common with “true” pineapples grown exclusively for their fruit.
A. comosus v. variegatus
This species, also known as the variegated pineapple, has leaves that are striped in a longitudinal pattern. These become pink when the plant is grown in bright, direct light.
A. bracteatus v. tricolor
Also known as the red pineapple, this plant produces red fruits and numerous offshoots.
Last but not least is the dwarf pineapple, or A. nanus. Although it looks exactly like A. comosus, it is much smaller, producing tiny fruits about the size of your thumb.
Billbergia bromeliads are similar to Aechmea, but they possess rosettes with just a few leaves forming narrow vases. There are more than 60 species within this genera, all of which have spine-edged leaves with pendant inflorescences.
These bromeliads tend to be grown as foliage plants instead of flowering plants. Although they do flower, the blooms tend to last for a much shorter period of time.
This v variety has silver to green leaves that stand almost completely upright. At first glance, this plant almost looks like a perfect vase! It can grow to two feet tall and wide, with the flowers generally in varying shades of pink. The most unique feature of this species? Its flowers drip nectar when they’re touched, leading to the nickname of “queen’s tears.”
Billbergia ‘Casa Blanca’
‘Casa Blanca’ is a great choice for the beginner bromeliad grower. It has deep green leaves covered in a white mottling pattern along with tube-shaped rosettes formed by upright leaves. The flowers sport pink bracts and blue flowers.
This is a bromeliad species that makes a wonderful landscape plant. It’s cold tolerant and can be grown in full shade or full sun – it can handle both environments with ease but the amount of sunlight will impact the color of the leaves. With rounded purple and pink flowers, this is one of the longest-lasting bromeliads in terms of bloom time – its flowers last a month or more before fading back.
This species can be grown in full or partial sun. In full sun, the leaves are a reddish-pink, but in partial sun, they’re deep green with white spots. It grows to only 12 inches or so in height but has gorgeous blue and white flowers.
This final type of Billbergia has silver horizontal bands on its foliage along with recurved green petals. Its flowers have pink bracts. Although it’s often commonly referred to as “queen’s tears,” this is a bit of a confusing misnomer.
This terrestrial genus of bromeliads is another one to consider if you’re looking for a more succulent variety. The leaves have toothed, wavy margins, with some possessing elaborate zigzag patterns.
The telltale sign of a bromeliad in the Cryptanthus genus is that these have “hidden flowers” with the flowers nestled low in the rosette’s center. Also, the leaves do not hold water. These plants are also known as earth stars and they grow directly flat against the ground, looking much like tiny terrestrial starfish where they lay.
This species grows exceptionally well in bright light. It has foliage that is white and green striped along with a pink tinge when grown in bright light.
Another popular Cryptanthus species is C. fosteriana. It has chocolate-brown leaves and gray stripes, like you might find on a zebra.
C. zonatus ‘Zebrinus’
Another zebra-imitating bromeliad is ‘Zebrinus.’ This plant has red-brown leaves and zigzagging bands of silver.
Cryptanthus ‘Black Prince’
‘Black Prince’ has nearly black foliage – hence the name – along with leaves that are fleshy and stiff.
Another terrestrial genus of bromeliads to be aware of is the Dyckia genus. This has 120 species, and again, the rosettes don’t hold water. The leaves are succulent, stiff, and spiny, with most forming a clumping habit of growth.
A clump-forming, terrestrial bromeliad, this is a bromeliad by many other names, including pineapple Dyckia and sawblade. It has succulent leaves and grows in a lump, with most plants growing to just around eight inches wide.
Another Dyckia bromeliad to consider growing is D. choristaminea, also known as ‘Frazzle Dazzle.’ It has ribbons of thin, silvery leaves that grow up to four inches tall. If you want to give bromeliads a try outdoors, this is the one for you – it’s hardy in zones 8a to 10b.
This kind of bromeliad is spiny and stemless – looking much like a prickly succulent. It has dull grey leaves that arch and are shiny.
Dyckia ‘Brittle Star’
‘Brittle Star’ is a succulent type of bromeliad that is both cold-hardy and heat tolerant. IT is bright gray with a maroon midrib and white spines.
Dyckia ‘Cherry Coke’
‘Cherry Coke’ is a burgundy bromeliad that has sharp teeth and orange flowers – if you decide to grow it outdoors, it will do a wonderful job at attracting hummingbirds!
There are more than 150 species of Guzmania, many of which are tank bromeliads. These plants have leaves that are usually dark green, shiny, and smooth-margined. The plant also has inflorescences that have bracts in shades like green, yellow, purple, red, and scarlet along with yellow or white flowers.
Also known as air pine or living vase bromeliads, these plants look spectacular when they’re in full bloom. Because these bromeliads are native to shadier environments, they perform best in lower-light conditions – they’re great for the home environment as a result!
They do tend to be more sensitive to fluctuations in humidity and temperatures – however, as long as you provide consistently warm temperatures, high humidity, and good air movement, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
This plant grows out of a rosette of leaves with bracts ranging in color from deep purple to red to orange and even yellow. There are multiple hybrids and color variations you can grow.
Another popular type of Guzmania is G. zahnii. This air pine has a gorgeous yellow and red stalk of flowers. It is quite easy to grow – although there are more striking versions available, too, this one tends to be the easiest by far.
There are more than 100 species of Neoregelia, all of which are tank types. They have broad rosettes (though some are vase-shaped) with leaf colors and patterns varying widely among the species. The inflorescence barely comes up above the water in the center of the plant sporting blue, white or lavender flowers.
Despite The beauty of the flowers, also known as fingernail plants, their small size and concealed nature means that most people end up growing these bromeliad types solely for their colorful foliage.
This bromeliad variety is a gorgeous foliage plant with gray-striped narrow leaves that are green with red tips. The interior leaves of the plant are purple-lined, complementing the plant’s elegant blue flowers.
Another popular Neoregelia variety is N. carolinae. This plant has leaves that turn red but only when the plant is actively flowering – this is meant to attract insect pollinators.
‘Guinea’ is a speckled bromeliad that not only looks interesting but is also a bit easier to grow because it is so compact. It produces an upright rosette and only reaches about seven inches tall.
N. meyendorffii ‘Spineless’
‘Spineless’ is known for its glossy leaves that turn bright red at flowering. It is also a more compact type of bromeliad to grow, producing tight rosettes of growth.
‘Morado’ is a purple-centered plant with wide leaves. Unlike most types of bromeliad that are vibrant in full sun, this one is most vibrantly colored when grown in the shade. However, in brighter light, the leaves will develop concentric, dark-colored bands.
Also known as air plants, the Tillandsia group of bromeliads is the largest in the family. There are more than 550 different epiphytic species for you to choose from! These do not form tanks and possess gray-green leaves, with many having unique growth habits with distorted, curled, or twisted leaves.
These plants require a fair bit of humidity but can be grown indoors easily as long as you water more frequently
The most popular of all Tillandsia species, this plant produces quill-shaped bracts around bright purple flowers. It has thin green leaves in a rosette pattern and is easy to grow indoors with some bright filtered sunlight.
This is an easy-to-grow air plant known for its clumping growth habit, its silvery, twisting leaves, and its bulbing base. It has a red flower stalk.
Plumosa has balls of silvery leaves that grow on limbs and rocks, typically in dry forested environments.
T. usneoides (Spanish moss)
Spanish moss is one of the few bromeliad varieties that is best acclimated to cooler environments. Native to South Carolina, it grows slender stems that hang to 20 feet or more over structures like trees and fences. Indoors, it can easily be grown in bright light.
T. utriculata v. pringleyi
A highly decorative species of bromeliad, this species has thin silver leaves that form an upright rosette.
This is a group of about 250 different bromeliad species, most of which are tank epiphytes. Some have rosettes that form large vases along with gorgeous flower bracts (typically red or yellow. Many Visas are bicolor or hybridized, meaning there are lots of lovely colors and varieties for you to choose from.
This red-flowered plant is perfect for beginning growers! It requires less water and more sunlight than many other types of bromeliads.
This Vriesea species is compact with a flower stalk that is mostly flattened. It can have orange, red or yellow bracts. It is so popular that it has been used in the creation of many other bromeliad species.
This is another compact variety of Vriesas to grow – but it is known for its silvery-grey leaves more than anything else.
A hybrid Vriesea species, ‘Christianne’ has glossy green leaves with yellow flowers and waxy spikes (usually red). It tends to grow in a compact form, rarely growing to more than a foot tall.
‘Charlotte’ is another hybrid. It has a branched flower spike that is normally pure yellow but can also have a tinge of red. It grows to about 18” tall but can be grown smaller if kept in a container.
Under the right conditions, most bromeliads can live for months – even years! These gorgeous plants just need the right conditions for light, temperature, and humidity – rarely do they ever even need to be pruned or fertilized.
For easygoing color and an exotic display of the tropics consider growing one of these types of bromeliad houseplants today!
For more types of indoor plants to grow, check this list.
*image by AlexDon24/depositphotos