COLD SENSITIVITY OF BROMELIADS

Dale W. Jenkins

Sarasota Bromeliad Society

Growing tropical bromeliads outdoors in a subtropical environment results in problems from winter freezes. This is of special importance in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and California in the United States and in Australia and New Zealand.

In general, bromeliads which come from the higher latitudes such as southern United States and southern South America and from higher elevations on mountains in tropical regions are the most cold hardy. Those bromeliads growing at lower tropical regions such as the Amazon basin are the most cold sensitive. This does not always hold true.

Bromeliad growers in the subtropical areas have published much information especially in the 1950 to 1970 period on the cold hardiness and cold sensitivity of plants exposed to cold winter freezes. This includes data on survival, degree of damage, and mortality at certain subfreezing temperatures. Many reports merely state that plants are cold hardy (which can be interpreted to mean survival at 20 to 32 degrees F.) without reporting the temperature or the degree of damage if any. These reports were used only with corroborating evidence.

A compilation is presented on the available published and unpublished information on bromeliad cold hardiness at about 20 degrees and 26 to 28 degrees F. and cold sensitivity at about 32 degrees. Some species, varieties and cultivars are found in more than one category based on the data available. While these data are quite valuable, they are subject to scientific evaluation and interpretation. The temperature measurements may come from weather bureau or other measurements some distance from the bromeliads. Walker (1976) reported that using mini-max thermometers there was a 10 degree F. variation in the microclimates of his small garden. An important variable is the amount and kind of overhead coverage , protection from cold winds and the duration of freezes.

Jenkins (1994) has grown many types of tropical fruit trees in Sarasota for 20 years studying cold hardiness and cold sensitivity using mini-max thermometers. Young fruit trees and young growth of mature trees are most sensitive to freezes. Development of cold hardening by exposure to cool or cold temperatures before heavy freezes increase survival.

For bromeliads there is some evidence that new pups or offsets are less sensitive to freezing than the mature or mother plants which may be in an old age state of decline after flowering. However, for certain species, younger plants are more sensitive than mature ones. There is evidence for some species that exposure of bromeliads to cool periods before a heavy freeze may not develop cold hardening but may result in decline of physiological fitness. There is more evidence that growing certain bromeliads hard, by exposure to cool weather results in cold hardening and increased survival to sudden freezes. A theory supporting this is that cool temperatures induce starches to convert to sugar producing antifreeze cold hardening.

An area of controversy is whether bromeliads, especially those with wells as in Neoregelia, should have the wells filled with water during a freeze. One grower reports that leaving frozen ice in the wells at 23 degrees resulted in death, while those with the ice shaken out survived. Another theory is that by not watering, the plants dry out and go into a dormant state resulting in more cold hardiness. Often plants with thicker or more leathery leaves and succulents with thick leaves such as Dyckia and Hechtia are more resistant to freezing, but exceptions occur. Fisher (1963) published a list of 52 different bromeliads that survived 20 degrees F. for 6 to 8 hours with little or no serious damage. This was in several cities in the Orlando, Florida area. It was implied that all of the plants were covered by overhead protection such as tree branches. He recommended that all plants with wells should be filled with water before freezes.

There does not appear to be any scientific studies with bromeliads (except for pineapples) of the exact temperature of the plants microclimate. Therefore, nearly all of the measurements published should be considered as approximations of the cold hardiness and cold sensitivity of bromeliads. There is a need for accurate scientific studies to supply answers to some of these questions. Considering that bromeliads are tropical plants they show quite a degree of cold hardiness. Even when the plant is apparently dead, suckers or pups often emerge later.

The data compiled for cold hardiness and cold sensitivity are presented in tabular form instead of separate lists since these are not mutually exclusive. A single species may be found in several categories. All numbers are degrees F.

The categories used are as follows:

H 20 = hardy with survival with little or no damage at 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.7 Celsius) for several hours.

H 26-28 = hardy with survival and with little or no damage at 26 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.3 to -2.2 Celsius) for several hours.

D 26-28 = death or severe damage at 26 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.3 to -2.2 Celsius) for several hours.

S 32 = cold sensitive with death or severe damage at 32 degrees Fahrenheit ( 0 Celsius) for several hours.

Since this list is very long, I have made it available as a Microsoft Word document which you can download here.
If you need a different format send me an email and I will try and accommodate.

NAME

H20

H26 - 28

D26 - 28

S32

Acanthostachys strobilacea  
x
   
Aechmea aquilega  
x
x
 
Aechmea angustifolia    
x
 
Aechmea 'Bastante'  
x
   
Aechmea 'Bert'  
x
x
 
Aechmea 'Black Panther'    
x
 
Aechmea blanchetiana
?
 
x
 
Aechmea blumenavii
x
     
Aechmea bracteata  
x
x
x
Aechmea brevicollia      
x
Aechmea bromeliifolia
x
x
   
Aechmea bromeliifolia 'Rubra'
x
x
   
Aechmea 'Burgundy'
x
x
x
 
Aechmea calyculata
x
x
x
 
Aechmea 'Caprice'      
x
Aechmea caudata       killed 16, burned 19
x
x
x
 
Aechmea caudata var. eipperi
x
x
   
Aechmea caudata var. variegata
x
x
   
Aechmea chantinii    
x
x
Aechmea chlorophylla  
x
x
 
Aechmea comata
x
x
x
 
Aechmea contracta    
x
 
Aechmea 'Coral Beads'    
x
 
Aechmea corymbosa    
x
x
Aechmea 'Covata'
x
     
Aechmea cylindrata
x
x
x
 
Aechmea dactylina  
x
   
Aechmea dealbata    
x
 
Aechmea distichantha
x
x
   
Aechmea distichantha forma albiflora
x
     
Aechmea distichantha caudata x melanocera
x
     
Aechmea distichantha var. schlumbergeri
x
     
Aechmea distichantha x planerophlebia
x
     
Aechmea dichlamydea var. trinitensis      
x
Aechmea eurycorymbus  
x
   
Aechmea fasciata  
x
x
x
Aechmea fasciata var. purpurea    
x
x
Aechmea fendleri  
x
   
Aechmea fosteriana  
x
x
 
Aechmea 'Foster's Favorite'  
x
x
 
Aechmea 'Friederike'    
x
 
Aechmea fulgens  
x
x
x
Aechmea fulgens x chantinii    
x
 
Aechmea fulgens var. discolor    
x
 
Aechmea gamosepala
x
x
   
Aechmea gigantea      
x
Aechmea 'Jeanne Eunice'
x
     
Aechmea kertesziae
x
     
Aechmea lamarchei
x
 
x
 
Aechmea lingulata  
x
   
Aechmea longifolia      
x
Aechmea lueddemanniana  
x
x
x
Aechmea magdalenae var. quaadricolor    
x
 
Aechmea 'Maginali'  
x
x
 
Aechmea mariae-regina  
x
x
 
Aechmea 'Mary Brett'  
x
   
Aechmea 'Metero'    
x
 
Aechmea mexicana    
x
x
Aechmea miniata  
x
x
x
Aechmea miniata var. discolor    
x
 
Aechmea miniata x weilbachii  
x
x
 
Aechmea 'Minibel'  
x
x
 
Aechmea mulfordi  
x
x
 
Aechmea nudicaulis  
x
x
 
Aechmea nallyi      
x
Aechmea orlandiana
?
x
x
 
Aechmea orlandiana 'Ensign'  
x
   
Aechmea ornata
x
     
Aechmea ornata 'Nationalis'  
x
   
Aechmea ornata 'Variegata'  
x
   
Aechmea paniculigera    
x
 
Aechmea pectinata  
x
x
 
Aechmea penduliflora  
x
x
 
Aechmea pimenti-velosoi  
x
   
Aechmea pineliana  
x
x
 
Aechmea pineliana var. minuta  
x
   
Aechmea politii    
x
 
Aechmea pubescens  
x
x
 
Aechmea purpureo-rosea    
x
 
Aechmea racinea    
x
 
Aechmea 'Rather'    
x
 
Aechmea recurvata
x
x
   
Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii
x
     
Aechmea recurvata var. ortgiesii
x
x
   
Aechmea 'Royal Wine'  
x
x
 
Aechmea rubens    
x
 
Aechmea saxicola    
x
 
Aechmea serrata    
x
 
Aechmea tessmanni      
x
Aechmea tillandsioides    
x
 
Aechmea triangularis  
x
   
Aechmea triticina  
x
x
 
Aechmea veitchii      
x
Aechmea victoriana    
x
 
Aechmea weilbachii  
x
x
 
Aechmea worononii  
x
   
Alcantarea vinicolor  
x
   
Androlepis skinneri  
x
x
x
Ananas bracteatus  
x
   
Ananas comosus 'Natal Queen'      
x
Ananas comosus 'Smooth Cayenne'      
x
Ananas macrocephala ?    
x
 
Billbergia amoena  
x
x
 
Billbergia 'Caliente'      
x
Billbergia 'Catherine Wilson'  
x
x
 
Billbergia distachia
x
x
x
 
Billbergia distachia var. maculata
x
 
x
 
Billbergia euphemiae    
x
 
Billbergia 'Fantasia' saundersii x pyramidalis  
x
x
x
Billbergia 'Fascinator' x 'Windii'    
x
x
Billbergia 'Full Moon'      
x
Billbergia 'Gerda'  
x
x
 
Billbergia horrida    
x
 
Billbergia leptopoda  
x
x
x
Billbergia macrocalyx    
x
x
Billbergia meyeri
x
x
   
Billbergia morelii  
x
x
 
Billbergia 'Muriel Waterman'  
x
x
 
Billbergia nutans
x
x
   
Billbergia 'Picale'      
x
Billbergia portiana    
x
 
Billbergia pyramidalis
x
x
x
 
Billbergia pyramidalis 'Kyoto'  
x
   
Billbergia pyramidalis var. striata
x
 
x
 
Billbergia rosea  
x
x
 
Billbergia sanderiana    
x
 
Billbergia 'Santa Barbara'
x
x
x
 
Billbergia saundersi  
x
x
 
Billbergia 'Serendipity'      
x
Billbergia 'Thelma Darling Hodge'  
x
   
Billbergia 'Theodore L. Mead'  
x
   
Billbergia venezuelana = rosea  
x
x
 
Billbergia vittata  
x
x
 
Billbergia zebrina  
x
x
 
Brocchia reducta
x
     
Bromelia balansae
x
x
x
 
Bromelia fosteriana    
x
 
Bromelia pinguin  
x
   
Bromelia serra
x
     
Bromelia serra variegata
x
     
Canistrum aurantacum  
x
   
Catopsis berteroniana    
x
 
Catopsis floribunda    
x
 
Cryptanthus bivittatus    
x
 
Cryptanthus 'It'  
x
   
Cryptanthus 'Pink Bouquet'      
x

Cryptbergia 'Red Burst'

 
x
 
x
Deuterocohnia brevifolia  
x
x
 
Deuterocohnia brevispicata  
x
   
Deuterocohnia longifolia  
x
x
 
Deuterocohnia meziana
x
x
x
 
Deuterocohnia schreiteri
x
     
Dyckia brevifolia
x
x
   
Dyckia chaguar  
x
   
Dyckia coccinea  
x
   
Dyckia dawsonii    
x
 
Dyckia encholirioides
x
x
   
Dyckia ferox
x
     
Dyckia fosteriana
x
x
   
Dyckia fosteriana x brevifolia
x
     
Dyckia 'Lad Cutak'
x
x
   
Dyckia leptostachya
x
x
   
Dyckia maracasensis  
x
   
Dyckia maritima
x
x
   
Dyckia microcalyx
x
x
   
Dyckia 'Naked Lady'
x
     
Dyckia platyphylla      
x
Dyckia rariflora
x
     
Dyckia remotiflora
x
x
   
Dyckia remotiflora var. angustior
x
     
Dyckia remotiflora var. montevidensis
x
x
   
Dyckia tuberosa  
x
   
Dyckia ursina
x
x
   
Edmundoa lindeni      
x
Edmundoa lindeni var. albomarginata      
x
Edmundoa lindeni var. variegata      
x
Fascicularia bicolor
x
x
   

pitcairnifolia

x
x
   
Guzmania berteroniana  
x
   
Guzmania 'Exodus'  
x
   
Guzmania 'Insignis'  
?
x
 
Guzmania lingulata    
x
 
Guzmania lingulata var. cardinalis  
x
   
Guzmania wittmackii    
x
 
Hechtia argentea  
x
   
Hechtia glomerata  
x
   
Hechtia guatemalensis      
x
Hechtia marnier-lapostcllei
x
     
Hechtia mexicana
x
     
Hechtia montana  
x
   
Hechtia stenopetala
x
     
Hechtia texensis      burned 16
x
x
   
Hohenbergia penduliflora (mature)    
x
 
Hohenbergia penduliflora (offsets)  
x
   
Hohenbergia stellata (mature)    
x
 
Hohenbergia stellata (offsets)  
x
   
Neoregelia ampullaceae  
x
x
 
Neoregelia 'Avalon'  
x
x
 
Neoregelia 'Born of Fire'  
x
   
Neoregelia carcharodon  
x
x
 
Neoregelia carolinae  
x
x
 
Neoregelia 'Catherine Wilson'  
x
   
Neoregelia cholorstictica  
x
x
 
Neoregelia concentrica
x
x
x
 
Neoregelia cruenta    
x
 
Neoregelia eleutheropetala    
x
 
Neoregelia 'Esther Fenton'  
x
   
Neoregelia farinosa  
x
x
 
Neoregelia 'Fireball'  
x
x
 
Neoregelia fosteriana  
x
x
 
Neoregelia 'George Prince'      
x
Neoregelia 'Green Geisha'  
x
   
Neoregelia johannis  
x
   
Neoregelia kautskyi    
x
 
Neoregelia laevis
?
 
x
 
Neoregelia macrocephala  
x
x
 
Neoregelia 'Marcon'  
x
x
 
Neoregelia 'Marconfos'  
x
x
 
Neoregelia marmorata x  
x
x
 
Neoregelia mcWilliamsi    
x
 
Neoregelia 'Morrisoniana'  
x
x
 
Neoregelia pascoaliana  
x
   
Neoregelia pineliana  
x
   
Neoregelia 'Pot Luck' cv of concentrica
x
x
   
Neoregelia 'Rio Cocha'  
x
   
Neoregelia 'Royal Burgundy'  
x
   
Neoregelia sarmentosa  
x
   
Neoregelia 'Sendero'  
x
   
Neoregelia spectabilis  
x
x
 
Neoregelia tristis  
x
   
Neoregelia 'Tuti Fruti'    
x
 
Nidularium amazonicum  
x
x
 
Nidularium 'Chantrieri'  
x
   
Nidularium Chloro-Marachellii  
x
 
x
Nidularium fulgens
x
 
x
 
Nidularium innocentii  
x
x
 
Nidularium procerum
x
x
   
Nidularium regelioides
x
x
   
Nidularium scherementiewii  
x
   
Ochagavia lindleyana
x
     
Orthophytum navioides      
x
Pitcairnia andreana      
x
Pitcairnia atrorubens      
x
Pitcairnia flammea  
x
   
Pitcairnia tabuliformis      
x
Pitcairnia xanthocalyx  
x
   
Portea kermesiana      
x
Portea leptantha  
x
   
Portea petropolitana  
x
x
 
Portea petropolitana var. extensa  
x
x
 
Portea silvierae  
x
   
Pseudoananas 'Prima Bailerina'      
x
Puya alpestris
x
x
   
Puya assurgens
x
     
Puya berteroniana
x
x
   
Puya chilensis
x
     
Puya coerulea
x
x
x
 
Puya coriacea
x
     
Puya dyckioides
x
     
Puya ferruginea
x
     
Puya floccosa
x
     
Puya gracilis
x
     
Puya laxa
x
x
   
Puya macrura
x
     
Puya raimondii
x
x
   
Puya rauhi  
x
   
Puya roezlii
x
x
   
Puya spathacea      killed 16
x
     
Puya thomasiana
x
     
Puya venusta
x
     
Puya violacea
x
     
Puya wrightii
x
     
Quesnelia arvensis  
x
   
Quesnelia arvensis 'Rose'  
x
   
Quesnelia liboneana  
x
x
 
Quesnelia marmorata  
x
   
Quesnelia quesneliana  
x
   
Quesnelia testudo
x
x
   
Tillandsia aeranthos  
x
   
Tillandsia baileyi
x
x
   
Tillandsia balbisiana  
x
x
 
Tillandsia bartramii  
x
   
Tillandsia bergeri  
x
   
Tillandsia brachycaulis  
x
   
Tillandsia butzii    
x
 
Tillandsia capitata  
x
   
Tillandsia caput-medusae    
x
 
Tillandsia carlsoniae  
x
   
Tillandsia chaetophylla  
x
   
Tillandsia complanata    
x
 
Tillandsia concolor  
x
   
Tillandsia cyanea  
x
   
Tillandsia deppeana    
x
 
Tillandsia didisticha  
x
   
Tillandsia duratii var. saxitilis  
x
   
Tillandsia edithae  
x
   
Tillandsia 'Emilie'  
x
   
Tillandsia exserta  
x
   
Tillandsia fasciculata
x
x
x
 
Tillandsia fasciculata var. densispica forma alba  
x
x
 
Tillandsia festucoides  
x
x
 
Tillandsia filifolia  
x
   
Tillandsia flexuosa    
x
 
Tillandsia grandis
x
     
Tillandsia guatemalensis  
x
   
Tillandsia gymnobotrya  
x
x
 
Tillandsia imperialis  
x
   
Tillandsia ionantha
x
x
x
 
Tillandsia ixioides  
x
   
Tillandsia jucunda  
x
   
Tillandsia juncea  
x
   
Tillandsia karwinskyana    
x
 
Tillandsia kerchoffiana  
x
   
Tillandsia lampropoda    
x
 
Tillandsia latifolia  
x
   
Tillandsia leiboldiana  
x
   
Tillandsia lindenii  
x
   
Tillandsia linearis  
x
   
Tillandsia loliacea  
x
   
Tillandsia lucida    
x
 
Tillandsia multicaulis    
x
 
Tillandsia paleacea  
x
   
Tillandsia paleacea 'Canta'  
x
   
Tillandsia paucifolia    
x
 
Tillandsia plumosa  
x
   
Tillandsia polystachia    
x
 
Tillandsia pruinosa    
x
 
Tillandsia pseudobaileyi    
x
 
Tillandsia punctulata    
x
 
Tillandsia recurvata      frozen 15
x
     
Tillandsia rothii    
x
 
Tillandsia rubella  
x
   
Tillandsia schreiteri  
x
   
Tillandsia simulata  
x
x
 
Tillandsia sphaerocephala  
x
   
Tillandsia streptophylla  
x
x
 
Tillandsia stricta  
x
   
Tillandsia subulifera  
x
   
Tillandsia tectorum    
x
 
Tillandsia tenuifolia
x
x
   
Tillandsia tricolor  
x
   
Tillandsia usneoides      killed 16
x
x
x
 
Tillandsia utriculata      killed 16
x
x
x
 
Tillandsia vernicosa  
x
   
Tillandsia violacea  
x
   
Tillandsia viridiflora    
x
 
Tillandsia x floridana  
x
   
Tillandsia yunkeri    
x
 
Vriesia atra
x
     
Vriesia barilletii
x
     
Vriesia bituminosa  
x
   
Vriesia bituminosa x saundersii
x
     
Vriesia 'Belgische Auslese'    
x
 
Vriesia 'Black Beauty'
x
     
Vriesia carinata
x
x
x
 
Vriesia chrysostachys    
x
 
Vriesia corcovadensis
x
     
Vriesia ensiformis
x
     
Vriesia ensiformis var. bicolor
x
     
Vriesia ensiformis forma striata  
x
   
Vriesia erythrodactylon  
x
x
 
Vriesia 'Favorite' cv. of splendens  
x
   
Vriesia fenestralis  
x
x
 
Vriesia 'Flamme'
x
     
Vriesia flammea
x
     
Vriesia fosteriana 'Red Chestnut'  
x
x
 
Vriesia friburgensis
x
     
Vriesia friburgensis var. paludosa
x
     
Vriesia frigurgensis var. tucumanensis
x
     
Vriesia gigantea
x
     
Vriesia hieroglyphica  
x
x
 
Vriesia imperialis  
x
x
 
Vriesia incurvata
x
x
   
Vriesia lubbersi
x
     
Vriesia 'Lucille'
x
     
Vriesia malzinei  
x
x
 
Vriesia malzinei var. disticha    
x
 
Vriesia 'Mariae'
x
x
x
 
Vriesia 'Mon Petit' corallina x flammea
x
     
Vriesia ospinae    
x
 
Vriesia phillipocoburgii
x
     
Vriesia platynema
x
     
Vriesia 'Purple Cockatoo'
x
     
Vriesia 'Purple Pendant'
x
     
Vriesia x retroflexa  
x
x
 
Vriesia 'Rex'
x
     
Vriesia rodigasiana
x
     
Vriesia 'Rosa Morena'
x
     
Vriesia saundersii    
x
 
Vriesia scalaris
x
     
Vriesia schwackiana
x
     
Vriesia schwackiana x fosteriana 'Red Chestnut'
x
     
Vriesia 'Seminole Chief'
x
     
Vriesia simplex
x
     
Vriesia splendens    
x
 
Vriesia splendens x incurvata      
x
Vriesia splendens forma striatifolia      
x
Vriesia vagans
x
     
Vriesia 'Velma Wurthmann'
x
     
Wittrockia superba  
x
x
 

LITERATURE CITED

Anderson, L. 1981. Growing bromeliads in an unhospitable climate.
Bromeliad Soc. 21(3): 126-128.

Beadle, D.A. 1998. The Bromeliad Cultivar Registry. The Bromeliad Society International. Pp. 423

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to express appreciation to Wally Berg and Harry Luther for updating the taxonomy, to Dennis Cathcart for data on cold hardiness for 25 species, and for helpful review comments by Witt Merrin, Kenneth Stokes, Tom Wolfe and my wife Joanne Jenkins.

I also thank the Selby Botanical Gardens for the use of their excellent botanical library.


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