Bromeliads are one of the most striking plants that you can have in the home, and to this day, I cannot figure why they are so overlooked. Thousands of varieties have been identified and more are being discovered daily. If you’ve never had a bromeliad, you are in for a treat,especially if you appreciate colorful foliage and unique blooms.
Although the bromeliad is somewhat tropical, it doesn’t like wet feet. As a matter of fact, overwatering is the best way to kill a bromeliad, especially if they are planted and growing in soil. In their natural habitat, they are epiphytic. Meaning they live (host) on another plant such as a tree and receive moisture and nutrients from air and rain. Water uptake is not the primary function of their root systems. Because of this, refrain from keeping them too wet. Their main source of water is from rainfall that becomes trapped in their rosettes where the leaves meet the stem of the plant. In addition to the rain water, leaf debris also collects and serves as a valuable source of nutrients.
It was once thought bromeliads were difficult to grow and only meant for the experienced gardener. Not so, they are easy to grow and extremely adaptable to growing in pots therefore making them suitable houseplants.
When it come to light, there are some varieties that will tolerate sun and there are those that will easily scorch. To be on the safe side, provide bright indirect light. If placing next to a window, monitor closely to make sure the amount of light isn’t too much and the glass isn’t magnifying the sun’s rays.
As for temperature, bromeliads aren’t too fussy. They prefer temperatures between 50oF and 80oF.
An interesting fact about the bromeliad is; most, but not all, are monocarpic. Which means after blooming, the parent plant will never bloom again and will eventually die. Fortunately, you will get new offspring, one or more smaller pups at the base of the plant. Carefully remove the pups and plant them individually in whatever spare containers you have. Hopefully, you may carry out future generations for many years.
I have found bromeliads to be somewhat drought tolerant. So when it comes to watering (As I always say) error on the dry side not the wet. I like to water bromeliads in the center where the leaves meet the central stem. But only water centrally if there is plenty of light available, temperatures are warm and there is plenty of humidity. You may also water soil around the base, however do not water using both methods simultaneously and make sure there is quick drainage. If you keep a saucer under your pot, never allow your bromeliad to sit in water.
When it comes to fertilizing, bromeliads are not heavy feeders and never use fertilizers that are high in salts. I like using organic fertilizers such as Neptune’s Harvest Seaweed or Neptune’s Fish Emulsion with Seaweed.
Last but not least, what should you do if insects take residence on your bromeliad? Early detection is the best approach for any plant inside or out. First line of defense, I suggest using tepid water and gently spray/rinse the plant free of insects. If situation persists, try using an Insecticidal Soap. If the infestation is severe, discard the plant all together, especially if you have other plants close by.
Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, as we talk more about bromeliads and things you could be doing to get yourself ready for the upcoming spring season.