Bromeliad Care Basics
Bromeliads (bro-me-li-ads) are a large family of flowering plants which includes thousands of species. They grow in a variety of habitats, having adapted to a range of climate conditions over time. Bromeliads can grow in deserts, forests, and rainforests and in all sorts of
elevations from sea level all the way to 14,000 feet high.
The base of the Bromeliad leaves serves as a water reservoir that collects insects and organic debris. Single-celled organisms and algae grow in this reservoir which in turn serves as food and shelter for small insects such as ants, snails, crabs, tree frogs, and salamanders.
All Bromeliads have trichomes (tiny scales or hairs) on their leaves. Depending upon where the plant grows, these trichomes serve different purposes. For bromeliads growing in the desert, these tiny hairs help to reflect sunlight and help keep the plant from overheating. For Bromeliads growing in the forest, the trichomes
help the plant to absorb water.
Bromeliads are well-known for their beautiful and colorful foliage which can range from green to red or maroon with stripes and spots depending on the variety. The leaves are stiff and prickly and some are very narrow while others are broader. Bromeliads can produce beautiful blooms that are brightly colored in hues of pink, purple, blue, yellow, orange, or red.
Bromeliads only bloom once and generally the blooms will last for two to three months. Once the plant is finished blooming the mother plant will produce a “pup” plant which can be separated (when it is approximately one-third the size of the mother plant) and potted separately.
Caring for Bromeliads is very similar to caring for your orchids.
Bromeliads like to be kept moist but not soggy so be sure to drain well after watering. Watering frequency depends on several factors such as certain type of plant, location, light, and temperature. Some Bromeliads have a rosette that forms a “tank” and they may prefer to have those filled with water. If you do fill your “tank” with water you will want to be sure to change the water frequently so that rot does not set in.
Bromeliads need bright, but indirect light. Varieties that are broad-leafed are sensitive to the sun and may get sunburn when exposed to direct sunlight. If you choose to grow a Bromeliad indoors an ideal location would be a southern facing windowsill without direct light exposure, although the light requirements will vary depending on the certain type of Bromeliad you have.
Bromeliads grow best with intermediate temperatures of 55°F to 85° (13°C to 29°C) during the day. At night, by providing cooler temperatures, you can encourage bud growth and prolong bloom duration.
If you are growing your Bromeliad inside, it is not necessary to fertilize. However, a balanced diluted fertilizer solution (specifically for Bromeliads) can be used periodically in order to produce new growth.
Bromeliads do not have much in the way of a root system and don’t necessarily have to be potted. Many can be attached to mounts or trees. If you do choose to pot your plant then a good potting material to use is a mix of fir bark and pieces of coconut shell.
All my best,
Ryan “The Orchid Guy” :-)
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