Fact sheet: Bromeliad
The bromeliad family is large and varied. Its two best-known members, pineapples and Spanish moss, give an idea of the diversity of this group of plants.Most bromeliads are easy to grow indoors or in the greenhouse. They have attractive forms and leaf colors, many with flowers that can last for months.
Bromeliads grown as houseplants vary in size from one inch to 2 to 3 feet tall.
Bromeliads are fairly long-lived and slow-growing houseplants. Although the central plant dies after flowering, they produce “pups” that can be separated and potted up to form new plants.
Most bromeliads have very attractive foliage. The leaves may be broad and leathery or fine and wiry. Many are colorfully banded and variegated. Others have silvery gray scales covering the leaves. In many types of bromeliads the thick, broad leaves form funnel-shaped rosettes called tanks, which hold water. Many bromeliads also develop beautiful flowering stalks.
Bromeliads are either epiphytic or terrestrial.
Epiphytic plants do not live in soil but survive by clinging to a tree or other supports such as rocks. Epiphytes are not parasites. They do not harm the host plant in any way, but merely use them for support. Epiphytes obtain all their water and mineral needs from the air. Epiphytic bromeliads can be either grown in soil or mounted on a board, branch, shell or various other surfaces. They must be firmly attached.
Terrestrial bromeliads require soil for growth like most other houseplants.
Bromeliads need strong light to grow well and produce flowers. Most bromeliads require filtered light, with a few exceptions. Bromeliads need warm temperatures to survive and grow well. Temperatures should be at least 60 to 70 °F.
Water bromeliads well and allow the soil to dry before watering again. Many bromeliads hold water in a leaf cup called a tank. The tank should be kept filled with water at all times. Be careful when you fill the tank not to let water soak the soil. Bromeliads are prone to root rots if the soil is kept wet. Flush the tank periodically by pouring fresh water into it, inverting and filling again. This will prevent stagnation and buildup of mineral salts.
Proper drainage is essential. The soil mix must be porous enough to allow water to drain off quickly and allow air to reach the roots. It should never be soggy.
Bromeliads need humid air to prosper. Most houses are not moist enough and you will need to provide humidity for your plants by misting them frequently. This is especially vital for “air plants” that obtain moisture from the air.
Bromeliads need fertilizer but use it at half strength or less. Mist the leaves in summer with very diluted liquid fertilizer.
You can force bromeliads to flower by placing the plant inside a clear, airtight plastic bag with a ripe apple for two to three days. Depending on the type of plant you have, flowering will begin in six to fourteen weeks. After flowering, the parent plant dies. Offshoots, or pups, provide for the steady renewal of the plant.
Fact sheet: Bromelieads
Fact sheet: Florida’s Native Bromelieads
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