There are close to 3,000 different species of bromeliads (bromeliaceae), yet they have many things in common. The majority of bromeliads, pronounced brō-ˈmē-lē-ˌad, are tropical and enjoy heat and humidity.
All species of this tropical plant are easy-care and actually thrive when slightly neglected. Bromeliads can be grown indoors or outdoors, come in all shapes and sizes, some bloom and some don’t and one specie doesn’t even need soil to grow in.
With the many species to select from, one (or more) will be just the right fit for your environment and schedule.
Use these bromeliad growing tips for growth and success.
Provide heat and humidity and most any bromeliad will be happy to grow indoors. However, there are some needs that must be met for each specie in addition to the basic heat and humidity.
Start by reading the plant label to determine how much light the selected bromeliad needs.
Most plants will thrive in a bright, sunny space. However, exposure to direct sunlight for an extended period of time can cause damage to the leaves. An indoor location that places the bromeliad near an east or west-facing window is good, as long as the plant is not in direct sunlight. In the winter, a south facing window is an ideal growing location for an indoor bromeliad.
Aechmea fasciata Bromeliad
There are exceptions to the light rule and that’s where the information on the plant label will be key to growing success. Begonias and caladiums are 2 popular plants in the bromeliad family that thrive in low-light areas.
Planters and Soil
The area you live in should determine the type of planter in which you grow a bromeliad. Plastic containers tend to hold moisture longer and are the best choice for arid regions or when growing the plant inside a heated home.
Unglazed clay pots are porous and allow water to seep out and are the best planter choice when growing bromeliads in a humid environment.
Whichever planter type you select, always use a quick-draining potting soil mix to plant the bromeliad. Garden soil is too dense and will not drain quickly enough to keep the plant healthy.
Bromeliads are light feeders and rarely need to be fed. Apply a water soluble plant food to potting soil once a year to any soil-grown specie mixed at the manufacture’s specified rate. For air plants (species grown without soil), mix water soluble fertilizer at one-half the specified rate and spray all over air plant.
Feeding the plant more often will result in plant becoming leggy and faded plant color. Bromeliads are naturally slow-growing and additional feeding will not speed up the growing process.
Indoor-grown bromeliads prefer 60% humidity year around. This level of humidity can be very difficult to maintain in a home that is being heated and cooled by forced air (furnace or air conditioning). Fortunately there are a few easy ways to raise the level of humidity in your home.
Guzmania bromeliad plant
The simplest way is to run a humidifier near the plant. If you will be near the plant throughout the day, use a spray bottle to mist the plant several times each day.
Place a few more plants (any variety) in the same vicinity as the bromeliad to promote transpiration.
Transpiration is the process in which a plant converts water into a vapor and releases it into the atmosphere so the humidity level of the immediate area will increase.
And one last way to provide humidity is to create a DIY humidity tray. Take a tray and fill it with small, decorative pebbles, then fill the tray with water to just below the pebbles’ surface. Place the potted bromeliad on the pebbles in the tray and keep the water level constant in the tray.
Watering Your Bromeliad
Only water when the top two inches of potting soil are dry, then thoroughly soak it so that the water runs through the potting soil and out of the bottom drainage holes. More frequent watering and the plant will be sitting in too much water and will develop root rot.
If you have an epiphytic bromeliad (the species that grows without soil on a tree, rock, etc.) keep the plant moist by misting it every few days.
Bromeliads only flower once in their lifetime. The bright colored leaves, called bracts, are often mistaken for blooms. Once in bloom, the bloom will remain on the plant for several months.
A bromeliad you have previously met – the pineapple!
Safe for Pets
Most species of bromeliads are non-toxic and safe for pets to be around. However, if your dog or cat ingests a large amount of a bromeliad it will cause stomach upset and vomiting.
Bromeliads can be grown outdoors using the same indoor growing tips: Provide bright, indirect light and plenty of humidity. Outdoor plants can be misted several times a day to increase humidity.
For cold climates, grow plant in a container and bring indoors when the temperatures starts dropping. Feed sparingly and keep soil moist.