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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Brazilian Sun Bromeliads add a splash of red to garden

By Staff | Sep 30, 2015

Brazilian Sun Bromeliads offer a blanket cover. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Brazilian Sun Bromeliad (Hohenbergia stellata)

First impression: Striking, exotic, flaming red colored petals that resemble many exploding firecrackers on a super tall stem. Gosh, all that red in multitudes of pointed petals whirling around smaller buds of purple, pink, and blue. Translucent light greenish yellow colored leaves in the shape of a rosette are the holder for this blossom. These out of this world tropical flower cover our garden like a blanket. They will never believe this one back home; follow the flashbulbs to our collection of you ain’t in Kansas anymore flowers in full bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Hohenbergia hail from the Bromeliaceae family of which includes the pineapple plant that has such tasty fruit. Bromeliads are recognizable by stiff, toothed leaves that form a water collecting pitcher in the center.

Hohenbergias are medium to large growing terrestrial, or epiphytic ground covers, which originate from tropical America. Their name is spot on with their tolerance for full sun, as opposed to the majority of bromeliads need for shade.

When not blooming they are an attractive plant with shiny chartreuse leaves. So showy and tall when blooming there is no passing them by without a closer look!

Brazilian Sun Bromeliads offer a blanket cover. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Hohenbergias, are great on their own or planted in groupings of three, five, seven. Their mature height is 3-4 feet tall; blooming sets their height at 5 feet tall.

Sizzling orangey red flower clusters ribbon-like, in whorls and rosettes adorning a stiff tall flower stem. The different phases of blooming also include peek a boo petals and flowers of purple, blue and pinks. The blossom is surreal and looks like a very unique candelabra. You only get one flower spike per plant, and it usually takes three years for a bloom. Babies are called pups and are sent out from the sides of the mama plant. Very economical you will always have bromeliads.

Once the flower fades clean out the mama plants and the pups will start the whole cycle over again. If you want to relocate some of your pups, wait until they are a third of the size of the mama and gently remove them. Bromeliads usually have sharped toothed or barbed leaves OUCH! Wear gloves when working with them. Many a time after gardening with these beauties, I find new scrapes and scratches. They are blood thirsty!

Hohenbergias can be planted, attached to logs, or rocks, or just propped up in any sunny area. Our stars parents were naturally occurring in the tropics but nonnative to our region. Frost free is their outdoor venue and are large and in charge ground covers thriving in sunny areas. You will learn a whole new way of watering with these cuties; they do best when their reservoirs have water in them. Critters love them; they are ground level reservoir for frogs, lizards and birds. Be sure to listen for your thank you’s in the next frog chorus!


Full sun to partial shade

Flowers are unique, exotic and tropical

Somewhat salt tolerant

Is great for oooh’s and ahhs

Everyone needs at least one

Frog attractor

No care needed

Drought tolerant

Attractive when not blooming



Non native plant

Needs cleaning after blooms

Frog attractor

Not cold hearty

It’s hard to say no to the flower

Conclusion: Bring your camera or your paintbrushes to record the uniqueness of our beauties. Can you hear the song in our gardens ribbit..ribbitSo many choruses so little time in our eye catching tropical garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!