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Macy's Flower Show Bromeliads & Succulents

Macy's Flower Show opens in Chicago this weekend. I've written a post for my Chicago Garden blog that has all the pictures of the preview of  "Towers of Flowers," the show's 2011 theme. I thought I'd save a few pictures to show you all who don't read that blog. Every year the cacti & succulent display garden is my favorite along with the smattering of bromeliads. Besides just being a collection of some of the most interesting indoor plants, they're always displayed so nicely. My ideal indoor garden consists of a large south facing window with a collection of cacti & succulents arranged like this.
Cactus Garden, Macy's Chicago Flower Show

Starting on the far-left of the display is a Crown of Thorns cactus, you can barely make it out but for the little red blooms. I haven't owned one of these in years but seeing two impressive specimens in the past month is making me think about adding one to my indoor setup. There's an Adenium obesum, also on the left, but that isn't doing much beside displaying a nice caudex. Scattered among the small pots are sedums, Echeverias, Agaves. In the the hypertufa trough in the center some florist kalanchoes blooms with some more small Agaves. The green, columnar plants Peruvian Torch Cactus and really makes a statement.

Stapelia, Golden Barrel Cactus, Macy's Flower Show

On the right is a Golden Barrel Cactus, another plant I haven't owned in a long time and now want, and next to that is a Stapelia of some kind. I didn't notice any blooms on the Stapelia, but I was hoping there would be at least one of those flowers on display. The genus Stapelia is noteworthy because they produce large blooms that smell like rotting flesh. The blooms are even larger than the ones on my Orbea variegata, better known as 'Starfish Cactus' or 'Toad Cactus.'

Cactus & Succulent Garden Macy's Flower Show

Here's another view of the cactus and succulent garden. The plant sticking out of the back and right is the Adenium obesum. The plant cascading over the corner is a Ric Rac cactus. Also called a Fish Bone cactus and Zig-zag cactus for obvious reason. Certainly one of the most interesting epiphytic plants I've seen in person.

Agave cactus garden, Macy's Flower Show

I love the way this Agave was placed in a pot that juts out at an angle from the cactus & succulent display.

Bromeliad garden, Macy's Chicago Flower Show

Bromeliads, like the Crown of Thorns cactus and the Golden Barrel Cactus, are plants I thought I was "over" years ago. I haven't owned in since my early years of gardening and I thought I'd never have the urge to own another, but this display is making me question that. I love the way the bromeliads are displayed on these pieces of driftwood, something that anyone who had too many potted bromeliads can do to free windowsill space or display them outdoors during the spring and summer months.

Orange Bromeliad, Red Bromeliad, Macy's Flower Show

Bromeliads of various colors, sizes and textures are used throughout the flower show. I'm trying to remember having such a prominent place in the show in year's past, but I can't remember. Throughout the various gardens they're used as accent plantings providing height, color and interesting structure.

Even against showy flowers like the blooms of azaleas, hydrangeas and tulips bromeliads hold their own, like this neon pink bromeliad that literally took my breath away several times. While touring the flower show I was reminded of the Outdoor Gardening With Houseplants post here in 2007. That neighbor was just really ahead of the bromeliad in garden beds in Chicago trend.

Macy's flower show "Towers of Flowers" show runs Sunday, March 27-Sunday, April 10. There's more than just cacti, succulents and bromeliads to the show. Lots of spring blooms and trees are on display along with a couple of interesting garden projects you could do at home.There are free guided tours, garden activities, floral demonstrations, worm composting demos and food and drinks keeping with the theme. If you're in Chicago read the Macy's Flower Show 2011 Preview post my Chicago Garden blog for more pictures of the flower show at Macy's flagship store on State Street.


  1. Very cool! Thanks for reminding me to add the ric-rac cactus to my "must-buy" list. I recently killed an expensive bromeliad so I'm off those for a bit, which is too bad because I really like them. I'll need to head down to Field's, er, Macy's to see the display!

  2. I think I'm going to have to add a ric-rac cactus to my list too. Although, I want a large one like the one they have. You should see the show, probably around Monday or Tuesday when more of the bloom open up after being in the store.

  3. Thank you for sharing those displays. The succulents are really amazing. I love all the different containers for them.

  4. Very interesting, MGT. Have not been much of a fan of succulents, other than the sedums (seda?) in the garden, but these photos give a reason for re-thinking that. The agave display is just gorgeous. Good design is still good design - regardless of the kind of "flower". Thanks for sharing.

  5. I really liked the Stapelia--what is it about me and stinky plants (I love skunk cabbage and just bought a voodoo lily)?! I like the ferny look of the ric-rac cactus. I've been looking for a pithy way to express my sentiments towards bromeliads (and orchids) for a while (aka Monica's Big Confession): I love them with my head, not my heart. Which is to say, I find them colorful and exotic and gorgeous... but I'd never run across a room shouting "Ooh! an orchid!"

  6. I'd far and away prefer to visit a show like this than some of the 'garden' shows I'm seeing reported on throughout the blogosphere. Mind you, I'd want to bring all these plants home, too...

  7. OK, I'm officially recanting my stance on bromeliads: I saw an orange one today that spoke to my heart (photos coming soon on blogspot). P.S. Given this & my flip-flopping on eggplant-radish, I should run for public office!

  8. I went back and forth about picking up a crown of thorns a couple of years ago. I wasn't really 'into' succulents then, but have fallen hard for them recently.

  9. What a grand display! I think I have all of these sux, except Crown of Thorns (had, but killed), and Barrel Cactus (no urge, too thorny)! Sadly, my sux have taken a backseat to my vegie and flower garden outside...not sure what happened. I still love them, heart has moved a little...

    You sure have some awesome gardening shows in Chicago! I think I need to move. I could be very happy there too!!! LOL.

    :) Julie

  10. love love love these photos! So jealous that I couldn't go!

  11. Succulents are my favorites!! I wish Macy's would do a show like that here in Minneapolis. I went to the 'Towers of Flowers' show a few weeks ago in downtown Mpls, it was beautiful but small. I bet Chicago's was much larger!


  12. P.S. I just checked out your photos from your trip to 'Towers of Flowers' on your Chicago blog. Wow!! I love how they incorporated the flower displays in the retail area of the store. (Ours was tucked into a room on a separate floor from the retail area.) I'm not trying to solicit readers but thought you'd enjoy seeing my photos from the 'Towers of Flowers' show in Mpls. :-) It was much different...



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