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How to Grow Vriesea

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Vriesea is a genus of rosette-forming, evergreen, mostly tree-dwelling (epiphytic) perennial bromeliads. Vriesea species have long, leathery leaves and oddly shaped flower clusters.

Vriesea can be grown as epiphytes in pockets of sphagnum moss on tree branches or in pots of loose, highly organic mix. They must be misted daily if grown indoors.

Vriesea is a genus of 250 species of mostly epiphytic perennial bromeliads. They are closely related to Tillandsia bromeliads. They are native to forested and rocky regions of tropical forests of Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Get to know Vriesea 

  • Plant type: Perennial bromeliad
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 13 to 15
  • Hardiness: Hardy to 59°F (15°C)
  • Temperature: Tolerates 65° to 80°F (18° to 27°C) range, year-round. 
  • Height and width: 12 inches (30cm) to 5 feet (1.5m) tall, 6 inches (15cm) to 3 feet (1m) wide depending on the variety.
  • Foliage: Mostly lance-shaped leave with smooth margins, frequently with colored crossbrands or other markings.
  • Flowers: Short-stalked flowers with petals free or fused into a tube, often shorter than sepals, eah petal with 2 scales at the base on the inner surface; flowers usually borne in flattened 2-ranked, spike-like racemes or panicials with prominent floral cractrs on more or less erect scapes from the center of the rosettes
  • Bloom time: Summer or autumns; flower spike may appear at any time of the year on a specimen that is several years old. 
  • Uses: Houseplant, tropical gardens
  • Common name: Flaming Sword 
  • Botanical name: Vriesea
  • Family name: Bromeliaceae
  • Origin: Tropical forests of Mexico, Central America, West Indies, South America
Vriesea splendens
Vriesea splendens

Where to plant Vriesea 

  • Indoor light: Moderate to low light from eastern or western exposure. Air circulation is important. 
  • Pottring soil: Recommended epiphytic bromeliad mix. 
  • Can be grown attahed to bark or tree branches.
  • In tropicla gardens, grow epiphytially in a tree or on mossy rocks.
  • Outdoors grow in partial shade.

When to plant Vriesea 

  • When temperatures drop below 59°F (15°C) move Vriesea to a warm greenhouse or indoors.

Planting and spacing Vriesea 

  • Space Vriesea 6 inches (15cm) to 3 feet (1m) apart depending on the variety.

How to water and feed Vriesea 

  • Water: During the growing season keep the rosette cenrs fill with water, mist daily. Keep growing medium evenly moist. Mist daily with fresh water. Humidity, 45% to 60%. 
  • Feeding: Monthly, with mild, quarter-strengthy liquid foliat fertilizer. Avoid oil-based products such as fish emulsion. Spray on leaves, add to water in cup, or apply to growing medium after watering; never fertilize a dry plant. 

Vriesea care 

  • Vriesea growth slows in winter.
  • Vriesea dies within 2 years after flowering. 

Growing Vriesea as a houseplant

  • Vriesea guttata and V. splendens can be grown as houseplants.
  • Grow Vriesea where the temperature is average or warm, light is bright and humidity is medium.
  • The potting medium should be soilless, coarse, and allowed to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Be sure there is always water in the cup at the base of the plant.
  • Fertilize monthly by adding fertilizer solution to the water in the cup.

Vriesea pests and diseases 

  • Vrisea is susceptible to scale inscts, mealybugs, leaf spots caused by drying, and crown rot.

Vriesea propagation 

  • Sow seed at 66-75°F (19-24°C) when ripe.
  • Remove and plant offsets in spring.

Vriesea varieties to grow 

  • Vriesea fenestralis. Rock dwelling or epiphytic bromeliad grows to 36 inches (91cm) with arching, light green leaves bearing irregular lines and purple undersides; 18-inch (46cm); spike carries purple-spotted green bracts and yellow to orange flowers. 
  • V. guttata, painted feather. Grows to 16 inches tall; narrow 10-inch blue-green leavs that are spotted in maroon or frow; flwoers are yellow and bracts and greenish beige suffused with biright silvery pink; flowr spikes are pendulous.
  • V. hieroglyphica, king of bromeliads. Epiphytic bromeliad bears glossy green leaves with purple bands and undersides; 24-inch (61cm) stalk divides into many branches, each bearing light green bracts and yellow flowers; measures 24 inches (61cm) tall. 
  • V. saundersii, also listed as V. botafogensis. Rock-dwelling bromeliad has stiff, dull, olive green leaves with purple-spotted undersides and tips that curve down; 12-inch (30cm) stalk bears a loose, arching cluster of yellow bracts and flowers. 
  • V. splendens ‘Major’, also listed as V. speciosa, flaming sword. Terrestrial or epiphytic bromeliad with a loose rosette of 15-inch (38cm) long leaves which are green with dark bands across their width; 24-inch (61cm) spike bears orange-red bracts and yellow flowers.  

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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