If you’ve ever seed bromeliads grown in clusters, you’ll immediately fall in love with them. Their leaves rank among the most beautiful you’ll ever see. And, to top it all off, they come in a wide array of colors.
The good news is, they’re fairly easy to care for as long as you know what to do. Thus, there’s no reason to get intimidated just because of their exquisite exterior.
Learn how to grow and care for bromeliads by reading on.
Bromeliads are among the most beautiful foliage plants thanks to their bright colors. You’ve likely seen a few of these including red, yellow, orange, purple, and green. Add tho that the varying textures they come in.
But, for the longest time, they’ve been thought of as plants that are better suited for experienced or advanced gardeners.
That’s because they’re quite different compared to other plants. As a result, how you feed, water, and care for them differ as well.
For one, they’re unique in that they absorb nutrients and moisture through the air using their leaves. And, at the center of the plant, you have a rosette of leaves that form a cup which functions to hold water.
Thus, unlike most plants that draw water and nutrients from the soil through their root system, this one doesn’t.
The good news is, once you understand how they work, you’ll quickly realize that it isn’t that complicated to grow and care for them.
Additionally, they’re very good at adapting to your home’s conditions.
Bromeliad Plant Care
The light requirements of bromeliads is a bit tougher compared to other plants. That’s because their preferences can vary significantly.
As such, you’ll see some that can tolerate direct sunlight. Meanwhile others prefer indirect light for fear of scorching if they’re left under intense exposure for long periods of time.
The good news is, there’s a simple trick to figuring out whether your particular bromeliad variety likes more or less light.
- Bromeliads with soft, pliable leaves prefer softer light. That is, indirect light. So, it’s a good idea to put them by a window facing east.
- Bromeliads with hard, stiff leaves enjoy brighter, stronger light. As such, they thrive with direct light. Thus, placing them in a window facing the west is a better option.
Either way, these plants do need quite a bit of light. So, allowing them to soak for half a day under these conditions helps them grow and stay healthy.
But, no matter where you put them, it’s important to monitor how they’re doing. This way, when the first signs of trouble come, you’ll be able to quickly make adjustments.
- Too much light makes them start turning yellowish in color
- Too little light causes them to turn dark green
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Bromeliad Temperature & Humidity
Being native to the rainforests of South America, bromeliads enjoy climates that are hot and humid. This makes them thrive in zones 10 and 11. As such, they do well in room temperature settings.
But, they can likewise tolerate a little bit of the cooler climate. In general, they don’t have a problem as long as temperatures stay between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
That said, while most like the hotter summer weather, some species don’t appreciate it. These include the flaming sword and scarlet star which start getting bothered once temperatures surpass 80 degrees. As such, it’s a good idea to keep them indoors.
However, it’s important not to place them in conditions where the mercury drops under 50 degrees.
As far as humidity goes, they do best when it’s between 40-60 percent. This means that you’ll need to take extra measures to keep them comfortable indoors especially during the winter months when the air gets dry.
Here, bromeliads are once again quite different from most plants. While they do tolerate dry conditions much like other tropical plants, the similarities somewhat stop there.
They gather water in their cup (or tank) which is the center of the bromeliad. And, this is where you’d like to focus your attention on when it comes to irrigation.
You want to keep their central cup watered. But, also make sure to check on it regularly and flush it every 10 or so days. This prevents any salt build-up that can happen.
As far as frequency is concerned, you’ll only need to water about once a week during its growing season. Then scale back after that.
But, most importantly, don’t allow it to stay in standing water. Like other plants, too much moisture puts it at risk of root rot.
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that these plants are sensitive to minerals and chemicals in the water. As such, using tap water isn’t a good idea. If you do, try using a filter. Otherwise, get distilled water instead.
Bromeliads are different from most plants in the way they need soil. That’s because of their root system and how they’re structured.
Instead of using their roots to absorb nutrients, they do so with their leaves and cups. As such, they don’t necessarily need rich potting soil.
In fact, many bromeliads are epiphytes. This means they latch on to support structures like trees and other pieces of wood. So, they don’t need soil at all.
Instead, you can grow them on logs, boards, or even stones, which make for a unique and amazing looking indoor display.
As for the other bromeliads, you’ll want to put them in potting soil that’s fast-draining. They likewise prefer soil with pH levels of between 5.0 to 6.0.
You can use a mix of peat moss and sand. Or, if you don’t like concocting your own mix, just buy orchid potting mix which works well for them.
Bromeliads don’t need a lot of fertilizer.
But, it’s worth mentioning that they grow better when regularly fed during the summer.
Just as importantly, how you feed them is somewhat different from most other plants. That’s because they don’t rely on their roots to obtain sustenance. Instead, it’s their cup and leaves that do so.
This means that you’re better off spraying its leaves and into the cup. That way, they’re better able to absorb the nutrients. You can likewise add a little to the soil as well for good measure.
As far as what fertilizer to use, go with an all-purpose plant food. You can opt for liquid or slow-release. Both work. And, use half or quarter strength when you do so.
Bromeliads take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to bloom. So, you need to be patient with them.
When they do, you’ll see clusters of bracts in lovely colors. From these, small flowers come out. This lasts for a few months.
After that, the plant slowly dies.
But, before it does so, it will produce pups. This is how the plant multiplies.
Once the pups grow to about a third of the mother plant, you can cut them off and repot them to grow new bromeliads.
Bromeliads don’t have very well developed root systems. In part, it’s because they don’t really use their root system to search and absorb sustenance.
Thus, they don’t mind being grown in small pots. In fact, they thrive when kept in these conditions.
The good news is, this limits their size. And, it also cuts down the work for you since there’s a lot less repotting to be done.
For the most part, it’s usually the younger bromeliads that benefit from repotting. But, you do need to be careful when you do so. Make sure to plant them as high as where they were in their original pot. Putting them in too deeply can cause them to rot.