Q: What sort of climate is best for bromeliads? I want to see mine bloom.--T.S., Westwood A: It takes two to three years for bromeliads to start flowering. The potting mixture isn't too important to epiphytic bromeliads (those that survive without soil, living on trees or rocks), because it serves only as a support. What bromeliads need most is water, even if it's supplied only to the funnel formed by each plant's rosette of leathery leaves. During periods of dry weather--or indoors--daily misting is a good idea. Most bromeliads do best in filtered sunlight.
Many bromeliads have attractive leaves, so a lack of flowers doesn't really detract from their decorative qualities.
Q: Can you suggest plants that I can grow in baskets all mixed together?--C.K., Brentwood A: Start with upright plants such as marigolds or coleus in the center, and put trailing types ( Vinca , alyssum or black-eyed Susan vine, to name a few) along the outer edges. Be sure that you don't mix sun-loving plants, such as petunias, with plants that prefer shade, such as impatiens.