If you’re interested in knowing how to care for bromeliads, then the good news is that this plant is not overly demanding and with the proper care, you can enjoy their beauty in your home or office, throughout the whole year.
In fact, they can easily become your favourite plants as they have very few problems with pests and only limited needs.
By way of background, bromeliads are a family of flowering plants of 75 genera and approximately 3590 known species.
Most of them originate from tropical Americas, some are from the American subtropics, and one is from the tropics west of Africa.
The biggest bromeliad is Puya raimondii that can reach up between 118 and 157 inches in height and the smallest is the Spanish moss.
The fruit pineapple is also part of this family- ananas comosus. These plants are well-adapted to a variety of climates.
Their foliage comes in a variety of shapes, including needle-thin to flat and broad, as well as symmetrical and irregular, and soft and spiky.
It grows in a rosette with numerous different colours. The leaf colours include maroon, shades of green, and gold, as well as red, yellow, white, and cream.
They make beautiful houseplants thanks to their non-demanding maintenance and the exotic touch they bring to indoor space.
When chosen as a houseplant, they need a relatively bright area like the front of the window.
To up its humidity, which the plant needs, it may be wise to keep it in a saucer of gravel that’s always moist.
Did you know that most bromeliads will flower once in their lifetime? The bloom can last for several months.
You shouldn’t mistake the bright-coloured leaves for flowers- these are actually bracts or leaf-like structures.
Good to Know:
When combined with foliage plants, bromeliads are like cordyline plants in that they can help purify the air in the room during the night.
And, if you have pets like cats and dogs, you needn’t worry if you have this plant in your home- like the bromeliad, they’re not toxic.
Ok, now for the bromeliad care specifics.
How to Care for Bromeliads
The amount of light that your bromeliad will need depends on its type. However, generally speaking, the bromeliads with softer and more flexible leaves will prefer lower levels of light.
On the other hand, if it’s a variety with harder and stiffer leaves, it will prefer brighter and indirect light.
All in all, a bromeliad will grow happy and healthy in a bright and sunny area.
But, don’t expose it directly to sunlight for prolonged periods of time because the leaves will suffer.
Bromeliads can tolerate temperature variations; however, the ones in hotter environments will require higher humidity.
The ideal range for bromeliads is between 55 and 80 degrees F. Anything below 40 degrees F isn’t recommendable.
Bromeliads can tolerate drought and in a normal indoor setting, there’s no need for watering in the central cup.
If the light, temperature, and humidity are high enough, you can centrally water it.
Remember to still flush the central cup occasionally to remove salts.
Generally, a bromeliad should be watered weekly in spring and summer and less often in the winter when the plant is resting.
Never leave a bromeliad in standing water! This is probably one of the most important tips when it comes to how to care for bromeliads.
Although it’s an epiphytic (an organism which derives moisture and nutrients from rain, air, and water or from the debris around it), you can grow them in potting soil that drains well.
A good start is a 2/3 peat-based soil mixture and 1/3 sand. They can also be grown mounted on logs and boards.
One of the best things about bromeliads is that they don’t require much feeding. In the growing season, opt for a liquid fertilizer with ½ or ¼ strength.
If you choose a slow-release pellet fertilizer, a single one into the plant’s central cup will be enough for one season.
This plant multiplies through offsets, also called pups. Normally, a mature plant will send up a flower spike with small flowers and bracts.
After the flowers die, the plant will begin to die too and in the next months, its growth will reduce.
But, the mother plant will send out one of the pups at the plant’s base. Cut them off carefully using scissors and pot them up separately.
Remember to pot them only after they have developed several roots and started forming the central cup.
The propagation of bromeliads can also be done through the offsets. Don’t share your bromeliad before the pup is 1/3 of the size of the mother plant.
This variety of bromeliad is the most popular – it boasts beautiful foliage clusters of white, yellow, purple, orange or red star-shaped blooms (see photograph above.)
This interesting ornamental version of the fruit has sword-like spiny green leaves and tiny pineapples on top of the flower spike.
Bromeliad Vriesea or the Flaming Sword
This variety of bromeliad is a tall and jazzy- it has impressive feather-like and animal print tropical flowers and variegated foliage.
Cryptanthus or Earth Star
This bromeliad is unique in its growth- it only grows terrestrially (roots are anchored in the soil and absorbs nutrients and water from it), unlike many other bromeliads which grow mounted on other plants or trees.
The common name comes is inspired from their foliage shape. The colours of the foliage are quite attractive and range from dark green to bright red and pink and with silver streaks.
In terms of pruning bromeliads, there’s not much to worry about. You can cut away any dead or dying leaves at any time.
When the main plant dies, prune it out and leave the pups in the pot or remove and propagate them separately.
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: The bract is turning brown or the color is fading
Cause: The plant has finished blooming and is now dying-this is a normal part of their life cycle.
Solution: When this happens, there’s no solution. The only thing you can do is check for pups to propagate or repot.
Problem: Plant isn’t thriving or blooming
Cause: Lack of light and/or under watering.
Solution: Make sure the plant gets 12 to 16 hours of light per day and water it weekly or bi-weekly.
Cause: Standing water in the central cup.
Solution: Regularly empty out any standing water, including one in the central cup and at the bottom. Remove any dying leaves too because the mosquitoes will feed on them!
I do hope you’ve found this article on how to care for bromeliads interesting and useful.
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