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Gulf Coast Gardening: Mount Bromeliads on Driftwood

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Lowe's Gulf Coast regional gardening expert Cynthia Glover mounts bromeliads on cypress driftwood to create a vertical "bromeliad tree".

 Terrestrial bromeliads make excellent groundcovers.
Cypress tree driftwood helped create my bromeliad tree.

When I'm handed a gift card to Lowe's, my imagination kicks into high gear. Lowe's Creative Ideas gave each of us regional gardening contributors $100 and challenged us to create something new for our gardens. What could be more thrilling? I love to spend money for my Gulf Coast garden! Extra money in my pocket motivated me to purchase the necessary materials to build a vertical "bromeliad tree."

Bromeliads provide uniquely colorful tropical texture to any Gulf Coast garden. I grow terrestrial bromeliads as excellent groundcovers. They multiply rapidly in the bright, filtered sunlight under mature oak trees.

There are also epiphytic bromeliads--they don't require soil to grow. Epiphytes receive nutrients and water from the air and rain. These characteristics make them suitable to attach to wood for a spectacular focal point in the garden.

These supplies came together to form my bromeliad tree project.

Last year, while vacationing in the quaint coastal town of Apalachicola, Florida, I purchased a substantial piece of driftwood. It was a cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) "knee," hollowed-out, boasting dramatic architectural character. The moment I saw it I envisioned bromeliads mounted on it, forming a vertical "bromeliad tree."

First I marked and mounted bromeliads onto the driftwood.

One easy shopping spree to Lowe's supplied everything I lacked in materials, including attractive glazed pottery to hold the tree. The pottery's reddish-brown color ideally complements the striking red tones in Stromanthe sanguine 'Triostar' and caladiums growing in the background.

Anthuriums planted in the base of my bromeliad tree add lushness.

In order to "plant" my tree upright, I poured a sturdy foundation of cement for stability. I used a plastic pot, and when the cement was dry I placed it inside of the decorative container. Then it was a matter of attaching each bromeliad in a pleasing arrangement with double-pointed tacks and galvanized wire.

When completed, the bromeliad tree seems right at home.

Located at the base of the cypress were two cupped-out "pockets" suitable for small plants. I tucked two anthuriums (herbaceous epiphytes) in them to create a lush effect at the bottom of the bromeliad arrangement.

My new exotic bromeliad tree fits in naturally and adds a prominent focal point to my side garden.

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