Welcome to the official class on How to Care for a Bromeliad House Plant! Okay, so there’s nothing official about it, but after reading this article, you will for sure know how to ensure your Bromeliad is thriving! Bromeliads are one of the most common houseplants sold in stores across the country. The first time I saw one, I thought it was plastic because I thought, “There is no way something can be that beautiful for that long!” They are famous for long-lasting blooms and their colorful bracts (leaves near the center of the plant that are colorful) and unique shape. Keep reading to get all the info needed to make sure the next time you get or give one as a gift, you’ll be fully prepared!
Table of Contents
What is it and How Does it Grow?
Care for the Bromeliad is not as complicated as some other houseplants. There are over 2,877 species of Bromeliad, so there can be some variations in what the specific type prefers, but the overall care will stay consistent. The good news is that when it comes to pests, Bromeliads have very few problem pests to worry about. Ensuring that the growing medium has good (quick) drainage is one of the most important things to remember. The most common type to be found in stores for sale are Epiphytic Bromeliads, plants that do not want, like or need potting soil. They actually will suffer if planted in traditional potting soil. They are very susceptible to root rot.
If they are to be grown indoors in a drier environment (heated home), they are best grown in plastic containers that don’t lose moisture as quickly as unglazed clay or other porous pots. Humid environments will likely mean using a porous container that will allow water to escape will keep the Bromeliad happy.
They are much more drought tolerant than tolerant of over-watering. (Translation: as long as the humidity levels are kept adequate, they can do with more loving neglect than other houseplants.) Bromeliads are slow growers so pruning and other growth management maintenance won’t be as high priority. At some point, the center will become too crowded, and new leaves won’t form anymore. That’s okay because it’s part of the plant’s natural life-cycle.
Light and Temperature Needs
While loving neglect with pruning and watering might be a boon for the busy Bromeliad owner, neglect of the humidity levels can be very detrimental. Good humidity and good airflow is a delicate balance. Too much humidity means fungal issues, while too little humidity means a withered and sad Bromeliad. Ways to increase or maintain humidity levels:
- Run a humidifier near the plant.
- Make a humidity tray. (Shallow dish with pebbles that is regularly filled with water for nearby plants to absorb evaporating water from.)
- Add more plants in the immediate vicinity. (Transpiration- the process by which pants release moisture through their leaves. This means more plants in the area, the higher the moisture in the surrounding air.)
- Use a spray bottle to mist the plants regularly.
When it comes to light, the typically tropical origin of common Bromeliads, direct sunlight is not recommended. Direct sunlight will damage the leaves and leave them sun burnt, often without the ability to recover. Make sure to check the specific variety for light tolerances, but overall, Bromeliads prefer bright, indirect sunlight.
How and When to Water?
Bromeliads don’t like to be sitting in water, as their roots are very susceptible to root rot, but when a watering is called for, they like a thorough watering that sends water dripping out the bottom of the container. This helps to remove any salts built up in the soil. You’ll know when to water by checking the top 2 inches of growing medium with a finger. If the top 2 inches are dry, it’s time for a drink. Bromeliads will want the occasional watering, but if humidity levels are kept consistent and at a good level, misting will suffice for a good portion of the plant’s water needs. Generally, watering twice a month (every other week) is sufficient for most bromeliads.
Bromeliads have what is known as a “tank”. This is the center of the plant where the leaves meet in the center. This can hold water and provide the plant with water during times of drought. It is important that if water is put in the tank, it is either rainwater or distilled water, and that the tank is flushed out with fresh water occasionally to prevent water stagnation. A word of caution when watering: When watering a Bromeliad, make sure to never use a metal container to water the plant. Bromeliads are very sensitive to metal and the use of a metal watering can or container can irreparably damage the plant.
How and When to Feed?
Bromeliads don’t need much fertilizing at all. In fact, too much feeding will result in the plant becoming leggy and the color turning dull. The “tank” of the Bromeliad is never to be fertilized directly. Only ever fertilize the plant at the base. When fertilizing, a general rule of thumb is that a quarter of a teaspoon of liquid fertilizer diluted half strength 4 times a year is enough. The older the plant, the more fertilizer will be needed. Make sure to check the specific type of Bromeliad for more detailed fertilizing instructions. As with all plants, do the research, see what works or doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.
How does the Bromeliad Propagate?
Bromeliads only bloom once. When they do, that is considered the peak of the plant’s lifecycle, and will start the slow transition to the final stage, pups! Bromeliads propagate through producing pups, or small offshoots of the mother plant. During this stage, the flower will eventually become withered and not very aesthetically pleasing. It is okay to use sharp, clean pruning scissors to remove the bloom at the base of the stem. The pups will need to grow to about half the size of the mother plant before they are ready to be removed and rehomed. Simply remove the pup from the mother making sure to get at least one root attached to the base of the pup.
Put the pup in very well draining growing medium, only covering up to the roots, and water thoroughly. They are slow growers so the process of growing pups until they are big enough to remove from the dying mother is not a fast one, but if done correctly, will ensure the continuation of beautiful Bromeliads in the home for years to come!
How to Care for Bromeliad House Plant: 101, Complete!
Here is where a certificate of achievement or official graduation from the “How to Care for a Bromeliad House Plant: 101” class would be awarded. You did great! The best way to celebrate is to go to your local floral department or nursery and find your very first Bromeliad to take home!
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