Explore the many-hued, multifarious world of bromeliads with our exclusive photos and read the story of David Shiigi, bromeliad-grower and hydridizer extraordinaire, who serenades his bromeliads with a Hawaiian guitar.
Well-regarded around the world for his hybrids, Shiigi first became familiar with bromeliads in 1975 when he was studying art at the University of Hawaii. One day, on a visit to a nursery on the Big Island, he spied an unfamiliar plant. “It had beautiful symmetry with amazing colors and patterns,” he says. That night, Shiigi looked up the plant and discovered its relation to the pineapple. “At the time, because of pineapples, Hawaii was one big bromeliad nursery,” says Shiigi. Although much of the growing has since shifted to regions with lower labor costs, such as Thailand and Brazil, the pineapple business was so crucial to Hawaii’s economy then that bromeliad imports were restricted for fear of introducing pests. Limited access, of course, made Shiigi want them even more.
Left: Vriesea ‘Snows of Mauna Kea’ is unusually white with green undertones. A collector’s plant that has yet to go commercial, it’s also impressively large, reaching 22 to 26 inches across and 28 inches high. Keep it, and all vriesea, out of full sun, and never let them sit in water.