By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer
Bromeliads are one of the largest and most diverse plant families in the world, according to grower Ronald W. Parkhurst, author of "The Book of Bromeliads and Hawaiian Tropical Flowers," published on Maui last year. There are about 3,000 species and hundreds of hybrids.
Because of their longevity, fantastic foliage, beautiful (but infrequent) flowers, variety of shapes and colors, bromeliads are among Hawaiis most popular plants for landscaping, interiors, cut flowers and live floral arrangements, writes Parkhurst, of Hanalei Nursey in Makawao, Maui.
It doesnt hurt, either, that bromeliads are incredibly hardy and easy to care for.
Parkhurst says many bromeliads can be grown as epiphytes, or air plants. Others can be potted or grown directly in the ground.
The book recommends growing bromeliads in a pot with a soil mixture of one-third transplanting mix, one-third coarse peat moss, one-third sponge rock and a little extra vermiculite. Offshoots, or keiki, can be removed and planted on their own, using rooting powder, when they are about two-thirds the size of the mother plant.
A basic rule of thumb for watering is to let the plants central "cup" dry out completely and let the soil begin to dry before rewetting. Most bromeliads like indirect light, but some can tolerate full sun. Air movement around the plant is also important.
"The Book of Bromeliads and Hawaiian Tropical Flowers," with more than 650 color identification photos, is available for $56.60 by money order or cashiers check sent to Pacific Isle Publishing Co., P.O. Box 827, Makawao, HI 96768. Or call Parkhurst at Hanalei Nursey (Makawao, Maui), (808) 572-9232. The Web site is www.maui.net/~hanalei/flowers/.
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