Friday, July 9, 2010

Portea petropolitana

Portea petropolitana is a large summer-blooming bromeliad that is great to plant in the landscape. 
The plant foliage grows about three feet tall, but when the flower spikes emerge in late spring, they reach heights of 5-6 feet!  The colors on the bloom spike include shades of rose, pink, purple, blue, teal, and lavender.  Like many bromeliads, the actual flowers are small and dark blue.  They barely open at the tip.
By early summer the flowering has finished, but colorful fruits start to develop in their place.  These enlarge throughout the summer, adding their own purple splash of color to the garden. 
Eventually, by late fall, the fruits start to shrivel and dry up, but by then they've provided a stunning eight month display!
Portea petropolitana will grow in sun or shade equally well.  In sun, the foliage will be a bright yellow-green, and in shade it will be a deep rich green.  The papery, reddish bracts hanging from the flower spike have more vivid color in sun.  The top photo above is of a plant in sun, the second photo was taken in the shady garden.
In the winter, plants under the canopy of trees will suffer little cold damage during freezes.  Exposed plants will be burned where frost settles on the leaves.
There are a few variations within this species.  The variety featured in this post is Portea petropolitana var. extensa.
This is one bromeliad that can't be beat for stunning color combinations and a long-lasting display!


Steve Asbell said...

I was surprised to find a couple of these at a local Home Depot, especially since they're not one of the hardier broms out there. Even more surprising was the price: $40! If I'm going to experiment and risk it, I'll have to wait til I find one cheaper.
I do really love seeing these on my sojourns to south Florida though, and the berries are the absolute best. Have you ever been able to harvest seed?

Grower Jim said...

Rainforest Gardener,
My Portea sets plenty of seed but I've never tried growing any. The mature plants send out enough pups to keep my collection growing, and they'll often bloom the next year!

Anonymous said...

I thinks we shouls start sharing these at our gatherings

BoulderElliott said...

Hello, I live in Colorado and was just given one of these plants. I would like to plant it outdoors but am a little concerned about it surviving through the winter here. Will it be ok outdoors through the winter? Do I need to cover it? or do I need to pull it up and bring it indoors in the winter? thank you for your feedback.

Grower Jim said...

BoulderElliot: I just returned from 10 days in Denver, Boulder, Loveland, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park! I recommend keeping your Portea in a 10" diameter pot so you can bring it in when temperatures drop below freezing. That size pot is big enough for the plant to reach maturity and give you plenty of blooms. Good luck!

aross said...

Any advice on harvesting, collecting and saving the Portea petropolitana seeds? I am currently getting the "buds"off the stalks but am struggling even with tweezers to save the spindly seeds inside. I wonder if you can just keep the clove like bud with the encased seeds? Has anyone tried this successfully?

Grower Jim said...

Aross, let the fruits fully mature and turn black, then you can just squeeze them and the seeds shoot right out. You will have the best success if you don't allow them to dry out before planting.