Bromeliad plants offer showy flowers and ornamental foliage and have incredibly easy care requirements, making this an excellent plant for new plant owners or those looking for something unique or tropical. Distantly related to pineapples, Bromeliad plants are part of the Bromeliaceae family. These plants are native to the Americas and grow epiphytically in nature, meaning they can latch onto trees and are capable of growing without soil. Find out more about these showy plants and learn everything you need to know about Bromeliad care.
Types of Bromeliad
Most Bromeliad houseplants have broad leaves that grow in a rosette formation around a central stem. The foliage has a fountain-like look, and the leaves near the center of the plant can feature bold colors, stripes, or dots, depending on the cultivar. Most of the foliage is green. Some of the more common houseplant varieties of Bromeliad include:
- Ananas (pineapple plant)
- Tillandsia (air plant)
Bromeliads are short-lived plants and typically last for about five years. The plants only flower once during their lifetime, so a flowering plant is nearing the end of its lifecycle. Bromeliads send out offshoots before they fade away. The new plants can be separated from the main plant, starting the cycle all over. You can grow generations of Bromeliad plants indefinitely as new plants replace older plants.
Bromeliad Light Requirements
Bromeliad care differs from one variety to another, but medium to bright indirect light is typically preferred. Direct light is bad news and will burn the foliage. Yellowing is an indicator of too much light, while colorful leaves losing their intensity is a sign of too little light.
How Often to Water Bromeliads
Watering Bromeliads is very different from watering most houseplants. Water Tillandsia, or air plants, by submerging the entire plant in water once each week. Many Bromeliads have a depression, or leaf cup, located in the center of the rosette. Plants in nature collect rainwater in the cup to sustain themselves since they cannot always depend on their roots to collect water the way most plants do.
Bromeliad plants that have a cup can be watered via the cup. Fill the cup, but be careful not to overfill the cup. Do not leave water in the cup for an extended period. Let the cup dry out occasionally to reduce the risk of rot. Routinely flush the Bromeliad cup to remove mineral buildup and dust.
Bromeliad plants can be watered via the soil. Water Bromeliad plants when the top couple of inches of soil are dry. Plants that are dormant can be watered when the soil is dry throughout. For Bromeliad plants that have a central cup, either water centrally or water the soil, do not use both watering methods simultaneously.
Best Soil for Bromeliads
A growing medium with excellent drainage is vital for Bromeliad care. Use an orchid mix or amend a potting mix with perlite or sand to improve drainage. Many Bromeliad plants don’t even need soil and can grow in sphagnum moss.
Temperature for Bromeliads
Warm temperatures are needed for proper Bromeliad care. These tropical plants like to stay warm, and a comfortable room temperature is fine for them. Temperatures between 60° and 85° are suitable for Bromeliads.
Most plants can handle temperature fluctuations to a degree, but keep the plants away from exterior doors and drafty windows during the winter and clear of air conditioning vents during the summer. Wait until the temperature is above 50° F before relocating Bromeliad plants to an outdoor area for the summer.
Despite being tropical plants, Bromeliads can easily live in 40% to 50% humidity. These beauties can live in high humidity, but average is enough to make them comfortable. Low humidity is not acceptable, so monitor the leaves for dry, crispy edges and introduce a humidifier or a pebble tray with water if your home is naturally dry or if you typically have dry winters.
These plants are not heavy feeders, which is normal for naturally epiphytic plants. Feed Bromeliad plants monthly during the spring and summer when the plants are actively growing. Use a balanced or low-nitrogen fertilizer that is diluted. Stop fertilizing Bromeliads during dormancy or when the plant starts to flower.
Do Bromeliads Bloom?
Yes, Bromeliads bloom. The plant sends up flower spikes that feature clusters of blooms known as inflorescences. The flowers can be nestled in the foliage, stand above the colorful foliage, or hang alongside the leaves. Bromeliad flowers can be in various colors, including red, green, purple, orange, or yellow. Flowers often last for months at a time. The colorful foliage, known as bracts, look like flower petals, but they’re actually leaves and not part of the flowers.
Bromeliads are diverse plants, and the conditions necessary to encourage blooming vary from one cultivar to another. Typically, proper Bromeliad care is required for the plant to bloom, and a combination of sunlight, humidity, temperature, and fertilization all come into play.
Pruning is not a big part of Bromeliad care. Remove damaged growth as necessary, but these plants do not need much trimming or shaping. Remove the flower stalk when the flowers fade. Use clean, sharp shears to trim the stalk as close to the base as possible. Removing the flower spikes directs more energy into propagation.
Bromeliad plants are so easy to maintain they even take care of propagation on their own. The plant will send out offshoots or pups when flowering is complete. These tiny plants share a root system and grow alongside the mother plant, emerging near the base. The offshoots can be removed from the main plant when they stand several inches tall. Brush the growing medium aside and cut the roots connecting the plants using clean, sharp shears. Pot each pup in a container with fresh soil or sphagnum moss.
When to Repot Bromeliads
Repotting is not normally part of Bromeliad care. These plants have small root systems, so they do not normally outgrow their container. It takes plants about three years to reach maturity, so you can give them fresh potting medium every couple of years.
Are Bromeliads Pet Friendly?
If Bromeliads were not already perfect enough — they’re pet friendly! Bromeliads are excellent plants to have in a home with cats and dogs. The plants are not likely to generate interest, even from inquisitive pets, but you can rest easy knowing that your furry friends are safe around Bromeliads.
Bromeliad Styling Tips
Lush, leafy Bromeliads have a distinctive look and add effortless style to a space. Style your Bromeliad in a terra cotta or unglazed ceramic pot for a look that is on point and functional. These adaptable plants do not need soil, so you can plant them in a clear vessel filled with sphagnum moss or mount them to a wall for a one-of-a-kind look that mimics how the plant would appear in nature.
Bromeliad Care Tips
Bromeliad care is easy. Getting the hang of watering can take some time if you’ve never dealt with a plant that has a central cup, but it’s easy once you understand what the plant needs. Once you find the right location with the optimal amount of sunlight, your Bromeliad will be all set and ready to display its bold foliage.