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Bromeliads and Frosts

- a personal experience

by Kerry Booth Tate

The bromeliads listed were growing in my garden and shade house, during winter 2007, at The Channon, by Terania Creek, in northern N.S.W., Australia - a sub-tropical haven. They had acclimatised over the previous 9 years, and most were growing well. Some bromeliads listed were single specimens, and others were established clumps. Many were grown epiphytically in various trees around the garden. Others were planted on the ground in mounds, or positioned in their pots, under trees and in more open areas. Several maturing tropical bromeliads, and potted pups of many genera, were growing in a large shade house.

The recorded results indicate the extent of damage they each received after two consecutive nights of -8°C, on 18th and 19th July, 2007 - an unprecedented and freak occurrence for the area. Photographic records cover the immediate month after the black frost, at weekly intervals. Subsequent written data and photographs support the long-term, overall damage...and

Where more than one result category for a specific plant is marked, e.g. X X, this indicates the plant was grown in several locations and conditions, and was affected differently. There is a separate "death in the shade house" category, as surprisingly, this was the worst-affected area - due to the lie of the land, elevated pots, and path of the frost.

In the Neoregelia section, I have listed species only, as the few hundred neoregelia hybrids were affected by too many variables - depending on their growth habit, ground Vs pot Vs mounted, position, and stage of development etc.



  • Most stoloniferous mini neoregelia and many grey-leaved tillandsia - growing epiphytically
  • Amazonian bromeliads e.g. Aechmea subgenus Platyaechmea, V. splendens, Guz. musaica
  • Discoloured/soft-leaved bromeliads e.g. Guzmania, as well as some with succulent-type thick leaves e.g. Ursulaea - inner cells were destroyed
  • In the garden, the mother plants generally fared worse than their pups
  • Potted bromeliads fared worse than their ground-planted siblings

WINNING GENERA - the great survivors:

  • Nidularium, Dyckia, green-leaved Vriesea, Aechmea subgenus Ortgiesia
  • High-altitude bromeliads e.g. T. deppeana, T. dasyliriifolia
  • Bromeliads native to Southern Brazil e.g. V. philippo-coburgii, V. gigantea
  • Those bromeliads growing under a denser, low canopy fared better than those in more exposed open areas
  • Although so many bromeliads were damaged, regrowth from either the centre of remaining live plants, or of subsequent pups, was relatively rapid and most heartening!

Click here to download the complete listing as a .pdf

NB. I hope this list might be useful to bromeliad growers in cooler climes, when choosing bromeliads for their conditions.



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