Bringing the Tropics to a Denver Backyard…Bromeliads in the Trees, + Painted Birdcage Bonus

bromdone5

Bringing the Tropics to a Denver Backyard…Bromeliads in the Trees

I was inspired on a recent trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens by this tree full of bromelaids. Such a fun tropical look! Here’s what they did:

bromilaids2

I’ve been cultivating as much of a tropical garden as I can here in arid Denver, (of course I want the opposite of what I have, I’m just crazy like that) and thought this would be a great addition, I just had to figure out how to do it. There are no horizontal branches low enough for this in my backyard, so I went vertical. I bought 3 small bromelaids and one large. I got a great deal as the little ones were less than perfect, but that’s fine with me. I spent a total of $25 on all 4 plants. Watch your local Lowes-type stores for clearance plants! Ask in the garden section. If you have a little bit of green on your thumb, you can make the plants happy again.

Here’s what the tree looked like before the bromelaids. I liked the fern and bird houses where they were, so I worked around them: (I bought the fern last Summer and over-wintered it in the house)

brombefore

Here’s how I did it: I created small plant pockets with chicken wire, attached them to the tree with floral wire, lined the pocket with sheet moss, and planted the plant into the pocket. It worked great! I then finished the pockets off with some dangly Spanish moss. Both mosses came from Home Depot at about $3.50 a bag. Here’s the step-by-step:

First, I gathered everything I needed.

brominprogress8 bromplants

Then I put the sheet moss in the bucket and covered it with water to soak while I cut out and shaped the chicken wire, using the plant as a rough size guide. Do wear gloves. I only wore them part of the time and have the scratches on my hands to prove it.

brominprogress7

Next I ran green floral wire around the tree where the top and bottom of the wire pocket would be, twisted the two floral wires firmly in place (not too tight, you don’t want to harm the tree) and bent the edges of the wire firmly around the floral wire to hold the pocket in place.

brominprogress10brominprogress6  brominprogress5

NOTE: I will be removing the wire and plants for the Winter. You do not want to leave the wire wrapped around the tree year-round, as it can harm the tree.

Next step is lining the wire pocket with the sheet moss. I pulled a section big enough to fold over inside the pocket out of the bucket, squeezed out some of the water, and placed it in the pocket to form a nice planting area. Don’t skip the soaking of the moss. It’s far easier to work with when it’s wet. Then I just popped the plant out of it’s plastic container and into the pocket. Easy-peasy! If there is extra room in the pocket, just add some tropical soil mix.

brominprogress4  brominprogress3  brominprogress2  brominprogress

After doing this for all 4 plants, this is what it looked like:

brominprogress9

The final touch was adding the Spanish moss over the wire and dangling it a bit. I just tucked it into the chicken wire. I love this! It really adds a fun tropical feel to the yard, and the whole project cost less than $35.

bromdone5 bromdone6  bromdone3 bromdone2  bromdone

And now for that Painted Birdcage Bonus I mentioned…

I’d been looking for something fun for that dark little corner next to the tree when I found this birdcage at a yard sale for .50 cents. Can’t beat that! I picked a bright lime green gloss spray paint and painted it (I used the whole can) and I dig it! Just the thing to brighten up that dark corner, and it only cost about $4 (cage and $3.50ish for the spray paint)

cagebeforebirdcageafter

Wondering about those big white orbs under the tree? Perhaps the Best Outdoor Garden Lighting Idea Ever…DIY High-End Looking Glowing Orbs for about $3

And that Gazebo pocking out behind the tree? DIY Exotic Asian-Moroccan Gazebo Restyle with Thrift Store Finds

What are you up to in the garden? I’d love to hear! Tell me in the Leave a Reply/Comments section.

 

5 thoughts on “Bringing the Tropics to a Denver Backyard…Bromeliads in the Trees, + Painted Birdcage Bonus

  1. Pingback: How I Made a Tropical Backyard Oasis in Denver on a Cheap-Ass Budget | the Year of Living Fabulously

    • Well Glen, being that it is about 15 degrees and snowing today, any plants left out would be big-time muerto. I bring them all in for the Winter and return them to the yard when it’s warm. They are living in my bedroom right now. Thanks for your inquiry!

  2. Wow….awesome!! I to am working on creating a tropical flair in my backyard and I do have a green thumb. I love your idea on creating bromeliads in trees. I certainly am going to try it. Gardening is my passion and if I had it my way I could spend all day in my front and back yard creating. I have successfully over winter tropical plants in my garage: Tropicana 4 years, they get so big in the pot I have to divide them our and put in more pots, a banana tree, 1 year, two geraniums 1 year and potatoes vines 1 year. I’m always seeking new ideas on turning annuals into perennials in our zone 5 &6 and creating a tropical flair in my yard. Thanks for sharing your idea.

    • Thanks Adriene!I have a great one for you…Dwarf Bananas! I’m in love with these things. They look so lovely and tropical, and to over-Winter them, you just pull them out of the pot/ground, cut off the leaves and throw them in a bag. That’s it. Plant them again in the spring and they come back beautifully. They are practically indestructible. Happy gardening!

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