BY VINA MEDENILLA

Houseplants have once again been gaining prominence in recent years. Many city dwellers engage in gardening to ease their stress amid the pandemic.

As idle home spaces turn to gardens, many ornamental growers are on the lookout for aroids that they can tend to during quarantine. 

An ornamental plant that is suitable to a tropical country like the Philippines is bromeliad (Bromeliaceae). 

The bromeliad is a sun-loving plant that can be easily recognized for its striking foliage with vibrant hues and patterns. It is an easy and non-toxic houseplant that is safe for dogs and cats, too.

One longtime local grower of bromeliads is Mary Ann D. Cogollo, 57, the owner of Dafalongs Flower Farm. 

Dafalongs Flower Farm is a product of Cogollo’s hard work after spending over 20 years in farming. Her agribusiness has now expanded into two branches that cover a total area of 3.5 hectares in the province of Iloilo.

Flourishing bromeliads at Dafalongs Flower Farm. Cogollo grows them in containers.

Cogollo, who has been growing bromeliads for 15 years and counting, said that most of her bromeliad plants are only for her own personal collection. “I love growing Neoregelia bromeliads,” she says. 

When asked why, she answered that bromeliads have hundreds of hybrids that come in different sizes, forms, and colors. Cogollo continued, “They can thrive well in [a] tropical country, [especially] if given the right care.” 

Mary Ann Cogollo, a bromeliad grower for 15 years and counting, mainly grows bromeliads on her farm because they are easy to cultivate and can thrive well in tropical weather.

Some of her bromeliad varieties are up for grabs. Prices start from P500 to P20,000 depending on the variety and size.

How to make them thrive

Bromeliads grow best during summer. They are not difficult to grow and can thrive well in indirect light or moderate shade. According to Cogollo, most varieties of these plants do not like to be soaked in water hence the need to be careful when watering them. 

Sufficient sunlight and shade are essential when growing bromeliads. These plants like 50 percent shade. Sunlight also helps boost the color of their foliage. 

Cogollo waters her bromeliads at six in the morning to allow the leaves to dry during the daytime. She propagates them through pups and seeds. For the medium, she uses coco chips but sometimes mixes charcoal in, too. 

Rain, rain, go away

The major enemy of bromeliads, as per Cogollo, is the long, rainy season. Monitoring one’s bromeliads is important during this period because the chances of root rot are higher. 

One of the many areas at Dafalongs Flower Farm where bromeliads are kept.

When she sees signs of rot near the plant stem, Cogollo pulls the bromeliads out of the pot to allow them to breathe and dry. Cogollo recommends changing the pot afterward to promote growth. 

Rainy days also cause the presence of grasshoppers. To solve this, she sprays insecticides once to twice a month. 

READ: Mary Ann Cogollo’s 30-year farming journey and how she overcame struggles she’s faced in those years.

Photos from Dafalongs Flower Farm.

For more information, visit Dafalongs Flower Farm.