A bromeliad tree can be used to display rainforest plants indoors, given the right light and humidity. They can be attractive and are fairly easy to make.
Bromeliads are a very diverse range of plants which occur most commonly as tropical rainforest plants. Most are foliage plants but they also include the air plants that have no roots. Many bromeliads grow as epiphytes, clinging to trees and in their natural form, they grow in a humid atmosphere with no direct sunlight.
Many of these plants can be grown as houseplants and used decoratively if the right growing conditions can be maintained. Depending on the species, there are many options available. One of the most common and more effective methods is to create a bromeliad tree or bromeliad log on which to position and nurture the plants.
As with other houseplant displays, the prospective gardener should have a theme or objective for the display in mind. Size and space will be a consideration, and displays such as this type need not always be kept in the same location, as long as they are not constantly moved. A bromeliad tree could be simple or more elaborate, but the principles are very similar. The equipment required to create the bromeliad tree is straightforward:
Suitable plants for display and cultivation. They should be species that have similar growing requirements, especially in terms of light and humidity. Watering requirements can be variable if required. For example, air plants requiring little or no maintenance could be positioned so that they do not get watered along with any leafy bromeliads. Although this takes a little care, it tends to improve the effect of the display.
A dead tree branch, ideally shaped to lend itself to display of a number of bromeliad plants for best effect, is required. A forked branch is often best, which also allows the more striking plants to be positioned in the fork of the branch. A piece of bark or small piece of driftwood is suitable for a small display.
A container to hold the tree, plants and the potting medium. Plain-colored pots in a natural or neutral color are best, in order not to detract from the houseplant display.
A suitable medium to hold the tree in the pot. This is usually stones to create stability through their weight, plus Plaster of Paris to hold everything in place. Pebbles are usually the most suitable material to act as the top surface, which can be sprayed with water occasionally to help maintain humidity.
Sphagnum moss is required, in which the delicate bromeliad roots can be wrapped. The moss is used to help retain water from misting.
Thin wire, usually plastic-covered, which will be used to fasten the plants in position. Colored string can be used in some circumstances, but wire is easier to use and stronger for these purposes.
Small secateurs or a similar cutting implement to trim any item as required.
Usually a small amount of adhesive is required to initially position the bromeliads. The most suitable adhesive is plant adhesive, which is available from most larger garden and plant suppliers.
Water and a misting spray will be required to maintain the plants as they grow.
After seating and securing the tree branch in the container and leaving the medium such as Plaster of Paris to set, the plants can then be positioned. Foliage plants can be included by wrapping their base in sphagnum moss or bromeliad compost if they are to be seated in the pot around the tree display.
The bromeliads which are being attached to the branch should have their base wrapped in the dampened moss. Some care should be taken as the roots, where they exist, are usually light and delicate.
The plant can then be wired to the branch, and a spot of adhesive used to help where required. In some cases, using a light plastic mesh through which the roots can be pushed and tied on, can be a suitable alternative. In many cases, the wire can be removed later when the plants have established themselves.
By misting the plants initially then misting them on a usually weekly basis, their humidity can be maintained. Some bromeliads have cup-shaped centre into which water can be poured to enable the plant to absorb it.
Bromeliads such as the air plant, Spanish moss, which is ideal for draping along branches, require no watering as it absorbs moisture from the air. Temperatures for most bromeliads have to be maintained at a minimum 50F.
Most types of bromeliad need to be fairly well-lit but should not be placed in direct sunlight. Once created, if the growing conditions are adhered to, bromeliad displays such as this make very interesting feature houseplants such as the tillandsia.
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