If you are looking to display some exuberance in your garden – Bromeliads are your friends. Coming from the tropics, Bromeliads deliver a punch of colour that we associate with tropical islands.

Striped, spotted and variegated in all shades, Bromeliads are wonderfully suited to planting in vertical gardens as they are natural epiphytes – meaning they generally live in trees.

The main purpose of the root system for Bromeliads is to stop them falling out of the trees. They take their water and nutrients from the top, in the crown of foliage. This can often also be the habitat for frogs and other fauna.

Generally speaking, Bromeliads with the coloured centres tend to like shade.  By making sure we plant the right make Bromeliads in the right place we will be rewarded endlessly.

The humidity of Auckland’s climate provides a good environment, but planting Bromeliads too far south and they will face exposure to frost.

Unlike Bromeliads, New Zealand native epiphytes tend to be more restrained in their colour but no less iconic. These include Collospermum hastatum (the widow maker), mistletoe and orchids.

The significance of New Zealand epiphytes in the environment is drawing increased attention and deservedly so. The proposed Epiphytum for the Auckland Botanical Gardens, which has been conceived by Andrew Patterson, would provide a gorgeous showcase for the beauty and significance of epiphytes in New Zealand and epiphytes in general.

We’ll be following the progress of the Epiphytum initiative with keen interest and will continue to report on it here.

In the meantime, consider planting Bromeliads to add a splash of tropical colour in your garden.