Visiting Andy Siekkinen: bromeliads in his greenhouse

If you were amazed by the quantity and variety of plants Andy Siekkinen has in his backyard in San Diego, get ready to have your mind blown again. As I mentioned, Andy also rents greenhouse space at a wholesale grower in another location in San Diego County.

A good half of that greenhouse is occupied by a wide range of bromeliads: aechmeas, billbergias, canistrums, neoregelias, you name it. The other side of the greenhouse contains the bulk of Andy’s hechtia collection, most likely the largest of its kind in the country. It’s complemented by other spiky terrestrial bromeliads such as encholiriums, orthophytums, and sincoraeas. Most of these “exotics” I’d only ever encountered online and in books; it was a real pleasure seeing them up close. Andy is working on propagating many of them so they will become available for purchase at some point in the future.

Below is the half of the greenhouse dedicated to “softer” bromeliads; I put “softer” in quotes because even billbergias and neoregelias often have spines that can draw blood.


Billbergias...

...on both sides of the aisle

Neoregelias are just as seductive:

Andy holding a massive Neoregelia cruenta ‘Goldilocks’

Neoregelia ‘Kiko’

×Hohenmea ‘Dennis’ (silver/left), Neoregelia ‘Cherry Float’ (green/right)

Neoregelia ‘Pitch Black’

Neoregelia ‘Smokin Hot’

Neoregelia ‘Whiz Bang’

Neoregelia ‘Night Wish’

Neoregelia ‘Sonic Boom Boom’

Neoregelias come in all sizes, colors, and patterns

Neoregelia ‘Strike Force’, with Tillandsia tectorum

Neoregelia ‘Tigerama’

Neoregelia ‘Kinetic Energy’

Deinacanthon urbanianum, an oddity from Bolivia. The barbs might be small, but they look quite capable of inflicting harm.

Aechmea nudicaulis ‘Pacifica’ with a pure-white offset (it wouldn’t survive if separated from the clump)

Aechmea orlandiana

Canistrum auratum × C. auratum ‘Pink’ (left), Canistrum fosterianum (right)

Andy holding a massive ×Quesmea (Quesnelia edmundoi var. rubrobracteata × Aechmea orlandiana) with multiple offsets

×Quesmea (Quesnelia edmundoi var. rubrobracteata × Aechmea orlandiana)

Andy also has a large number of tillandsias; I only photographed a few:

Tillandsia ‘Silver Queen’

Tillandsia ionantha

Variegated Tillandsia ionantha

Tillandsia ‘Tina Parr’

Tillandsia caerulea × straminea

Now let’s switch to terrestrial bromeliads. You’ll seen several plants labeled sp. nova. These are possible new species that haven’t been formally described yet. Andy is keeping a close eye on them and collecting data with an eye toward describing them in the future.

Orthophytum sp. nova (left), Orthophytum hybrid (right)

Orthophytum ‘Iron Ore’ × gurkenii

Orthophytum gurkenii

Orthophytum hybrid ‘AS-OX20’

Next up, a couple of sincoraeas. The plants now classified as Sincoraea were originally included in the genus Orthophytum, but in 2016 the genus Sincoraea was re-established to accommodate plants with a short stem and sessile flowers found in the northern portion of the Espinhaço Mountain Range in Brazil’s Chapada Diamantina plateau. The genus is named after the Serra do Sincorá, the ridge in the center of the Chapada Diamantina. I bet this is way more information than you ever wanted, but there you have it.

Sincoraea ophiuroides

Sincoraea burle-marxii

And finally, hechtias, my favorite genus among terrestrial bromeliads:

Neoregelias and hechtias

Hechtia roseana

Hechtia roseana

Hechtia sp. nova

Hechtia glauca × roseana ‘Mr. Freckles’

Hechtia glauca × roseana ‘Mr. Freckles’

Hechtia platyphylla, ② Hechtia medusae, ③ Hechtia mooreana, ④ Hechtia fosteriana. #1 and 2 are new species Andy co-described in 2020.

Hechtia chichinautzensis

Hechtia sp. nova

Encholirium spectabile, ② Encholirium spectabile, ③ Hechtia sp. nova AS086 open pollinated seedling (could be the straight species as there was a male blooming right next to it), ④ Encholirium spectabile, ⑤ Encholirium spectabile, ⑥ Hechtia sp. nova AS086 open pollinated seedling (could be the straight species as there was a male blooming right next to it)

Hechtia jaliscana

Hechtia lanata × argentea

Hechtia fosteriana

Center: Hechtia glauca

Hechtia aff. pretiosa AS094 × lanata

The hechtias in the following section are all Hechtia lanata, one of the most distinctive hechtia species and one that even people who don’t generally like fiercely armed plants generally find attractive:

Notice the different leaf colors and the inflorescences


Remember that hechtias come in female and male plants; one of each is needed for fertilization

This burgundy red Hechtia lanata was my favorite




All the various colors of Hechtia lanata in one photo: greens, yellows, pinks, reds, purples, silvers

And finally something I bet you weren’t expecting to see, a Echinocereus pentalophus selection Andy named ‘Chunky’:

Echinocereus pentalophus ‘Chunky’

Andy has begun to cultivate and hybridize Echinocereus cacti. I look forward to seeing the results of this new project.

I’ll share details about Andy’s online plant store once it’s up and running. In the meantime, you can follow him on Instagram @botanycowboy.

And in case you were wondering, Andy’s last name is pronounced See-KEEN-un.


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Comments

  1. Overwhelming! And here I struggle to keep my paltry collection of bromeliads alive and well. (My success in growing them in pots has been greater than the luck I've had with those I've planted in the ground.) I fell in love with that Hechtia roseana on first sight and look forward to the day that plants like these become widely available. I loved the idea of pairing some of the larger bromeliads with Tillandsias too - I'm surprised that idea never occurred to me but you can bet I'm going to try it now.

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    Replies
    1. I also loved the combination of tillandsias and neoregelias. I don't think Andy does it for aesthetic reasons, more for watering, but hey, it works!

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  2. I can't even.

    Two questions come to mind. How does Andy manage to keep them straight? So many plants, so many names! And two, pest management. How does he keep things like mealy bugs from just sweeping through?

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    Replies
    1. Plant names: good memory, and labels.

      Pests: Andy says that root mealies can be a problem, and some scale. He keeps on top of it with systemics. Plus, the dry air helps keep them away.

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  3. Wow! an incredible collection. Love the dark Neoregalias and the many colours of the Hechtia.

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  4. So much diversity (and personality) amongst the various Hechtia lanata forms. They remind me of undersea creatures. Lovely photos.

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    Replies
    1. Yes!! Hechtia lanata would work beautifully in an undersea-themed succulent garden.

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