Bromeliad Care Guide

Bromeliads are unique plants of the Bromeliaceae family. These easy houseplants are generally purchased for their flowers. However, many people might not know that a Bromeliad blooms only once in its entire lifetime. Their leaves can be yellow, green, purple, yellow, or orange and be striped, spotted, or variegated, making them a beautiful foliage plant. Their flowers come in just as many colors as their leaves. You can find them with red, green, purple, yellow, or orange flowers.

Bromeliads are native to the tropical and subtropical Americas and can be grown outdoors as perennials in zones 10-11, but they are most commonly grown indoors as a potted plant. This easy houseplant is slow growing and typically takes two to three years to reach maturity, at which time it will bloom. While these plants are easy to care for, they do require specific conditions to bloom.

Fun Fact: Pineapples are in the bromeliad family.

How to Care for Bromeliads

The conditions required for a bromeliad to bloom are specific to the variety you have. Day length, humidity, watering, feeding, and temperature all affect when a bromeliad blooms. You will need to know the species you have in order to find the right conditions for blooming. You can also force it to bloom, which is discussed later.

Bromeliads are kind of like orchids in that they can be either terrestrial or epiphytic. This means they either grow in soil or cling to trees where they absorb nutrients through their leaves. There is actually a third type called saxicolous. This variety grows in rocks, usually on sheer cliff faces, and its roots find water and nutrients through cracks and fissures. This variety is not commonly grown as a houseplant.

The perfect soil, or no soil?

Both terrestrial and epiphytic species are usually grown in a well-drained potting mix, usually a mix of sand and potting soil. Ideally, this mix would be two-thirds peat-based potting soil and one-third sand. It is important that the soil mixture holds some moisture but is well drained. You do not want it to ever be soggy since bromeliads are susceptible to root rot. You can also use orchid mix or charcoal. The epiphytic varieties can be grown in either containers or as true air plants mounted to logs or aesthetic boards with either ties or glue.

Lighting may vary

Light requirements for bromeliads are just as variable as the number of species there are. Some like lots of light and can handle a little direct sunlight, while others need low light and no direct sunlight. Generally, if your plant has soft leaves that are spineless and flexible, it likely will prefer low indirect light. Those with hard leaves generally prefer bright indirect light. If your plant starts to yellow or appears to have burnt leaves, the light levels are probably too high. Whereas if the leaves are very dark and seem elongated, it probably isn't getting enough light. Increasing the light levels can help encourage blooming when the plant has matured enough, and the other conditions are right for your variety.

How to water

Bromeliads prefer slightly moist soil. While they are tropical plants, they do not like to be soggy. Depending on where you live and the conditions inside of your house, you may need to mist the leaves and keep the plant's central cup filled with water. If you live in a dry, hot, and arid climate, your bromeliad will benefit from being misted with water in the mornings and having the water in its cup replenished on a regular basis. If you keep water in the plant's central cup, it is important to keep it fresh to prevent it from becoming stagnant and building up salts. Generally, though, a weekly watering during its growth period is sufficient, with less frequent waterings during the winter. Before watering, make sure the top two inches or so of soil is dry. If the soil becomes too wet, the plant can develop root rot. If you are attempting to grow an epiphyte variety as an air plant without soil, your plant will need more care. They will need to be sprayed daily with water and fully submerged or drenched in water once per week.

Just the right temperature

Bromeliads grow well at the temperatures of most homes. They prefer temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels of around 60%. While 60% humidity is too much for most homes, you can achieve this by simply giving spraying the plant with water in the morning. If the season and temperatures are right, you can move your plant outside, but make sure you do not put it in direct sunlight as this will burn the leaves.

Fertilize Lightly

Bromeliads do not require much as they are light feeds. When the plant is actively growing, you can give it half-strength liquid fertilizer. Do not feed mature plants in the winter when it starts to flower.

Getting to bloom

Replicating the natural conditions that your bromeliad needs to bloom can be difficult. However, all hope is not lost. You can force a bromeliad to bloom by exposing it to ethylene gas. Simply cover the plant in a sealed plastic bag for up to 10 days with a ripe apple. Just make sure there is no water in the plant's central cup before doing this. Once your bromeliad blooms, you can enjoy its beautiful flowers for up to six months. Once the plant is done blooming, it will slowly die off. If you are lucky, it will produce new plants at the base called pups, which will start the cycle over again.

Where to purchase Bromeliads?

At Plumeria, we believe everyone should bring the joy of plants into their home. We offer everything from easy houseplants to beautiful flower arrangements. Browse our selection today or give us a call if you have any plant care questions!