Mounting bromeliads and airplants on wood

My neighbour gave me this bromeliad as a gift after I kept an eye on her elderly mother while she was away on holiday.

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Neoregelia bromeliads grow on trees in the rainforests of Brazil although this is a variegated cultivar, Neoregelia carolinae "Tricolor". The green stuff below it is not the roots, it's a piece of Tillandsia, commonly called Spanish moss, also an epiphytic air plant. Epiphytic is a term for plants that grow on other plants. Some epiphytes are parasitic and feed off of the host plant but Tillandsia and Bromeliads are not, they use the trees as anchors and draw their nutrients from the air.

I wasn't keen on the little board as a long-term solution so I decided to mount the plants on the wood that my now deceased staghorn fern was growing on. Sadly, the Staghorn fern died one hot spring when I neglected to water it enough 🙈

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The bromeliad has tiny roots pushing out and they will need a rough surface to anchor themselves. These roots are not used to absorb nutrients, only to attach itself to the tree. They won't grow much now because it's autumn here but they should get going in spring

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If you're wondering how bromeliads get by without roots, they collect rainwater in their centres, called a 'cup' and the secret to keeping them is to make sure there's always clean rainwater or distilled water in there because they don't like tap water. It's a good idea to flush the cup out regularly in summer or you will have your own personal mosquito farm! You can occasionally spray the leaves with a weak orchid fertiliser.

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I tied the bromeliad to the wood using a strip of pantyhose, this is a gentle way of keeping it secure until it manages to attach itself. The emerging roots are closest to the bark surface.

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As an experiment, I took some moss that was growing in a plant pot and added it there. Hopefully it will anchor itself too. I just draped the Spanish moss around the protruding piece of wood

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This is the finished mounting, it will take some months and daily misting with the spray bottle to keep the mosses alive but I think it should do well. I'll keep it in my bathroom over winter but next summer when it rains regularly I will be able to hang it outside in a shady place.

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