Striking up with bromeliads

Maise Kokshoorn amongst her beloved bromeliads. Photo: Bruce Barnard


Maisie Kokshoorn’s love affair with bromeliads started with one plant ten years ago. She now has dozens. They border both sides of her lawn, three or four deep, amongst the succulents, skirting three sides of her property. Dozens of bromeliads are probably hundreds of bromeliads.

“They are just stunning plants,” she says. “I love them.” Vibrant, eye-catching foliage - yellows, reds, greens, purples, browns and orange.

Still, there’s a love-hate relationship with bromeliads. “I know,” says an unbelieving Maisie. “A lot of people hate them. I can’t understand it.”

And, she says, there are so many reason to them – they’re easy to grow indoors, most tolerate infrequent watering, they have beautiful forms, foliage, flowers and spikes, the inflorescence or flowers last three or more months, they readily reproduce or pup, and they have few enemies, with few pests and diseases that attack bromeliads. What is there not to like?

“And there are no weeds. They look after themselves, and I don’t have weeds.”

Bromeliads also love the Bay of Plenty. They thrive in the summer heat and humidity that is so challenging for other plants. And to share the love, the Bay of Plenty Bromeliad Club is having its annual spring display and sale of bromeliaceae or bromeliads at Matua Hall on Saturday, November 18, between 8am and midday.

Local growers will be selling plants they have grown themselves, and are on-hand to give good advice on where to place them for the best growing conditions. Gardeners and enthusiasts will be able to access specialised plants which are not likely to be available at nurseries – and at good prices. They have become a trendy plant in the subtropical gardens. They look well amid palms, cycads, ligularias, ferns and vireyas.

When Maisie, from The Lakes, heads off to another Bromeliad Club monthly meeting, she tells her husband she won’t be buying anything today. That’s the intention anyway. “But if I have $20 or $30 on me, I always come home with something new.”

And her husband’s been known to indulge her fancy. “He spotted a $25 bromeliad in a garden centre one day and said he would buy it for me. He doesn’t mind them, in fact he must quite like them.”

But bromeliad’s can be a responsibility – Maisie’s homebound between June and September. “I have to put the frost cloth out at 5:30pm and drape it around the plants before it gets dark. Then in the morning I get up early to hang the cloth out to dry, just in case the neighbours don’t like it or think I am mad.”

And it seems bromeliads have a way of wheedling their way into a life. Maisie’s friend, two doors up the street, have since bought into bromeliads. So has the village manager, who wants to plant some nearby.

And then there are the 50-plus people who, every month, meet at the club to share their passion, their knowledge and camaraderie that blossoms from bromeliads.

They’ll all be at the Bromeliad Club’s annual spring display and sale at Matua Hall. Maisie will probably take $20 or $30.