Did you know a pineapple is a Bromeliad?
This huge family of plants, Bromeliaceae, come in all shapes, sizes and flower colours. They are all characterised by leaves growing in a rosette. The leaves are often spiny and their shape ranges from long and spiky to shorter rounded leaves.
In this post, we will tell you all you need to know about growing and caring for these exotic beauties.
What Is A Bromeliad?
Bromeliad plants are often epiphytic and grow on trees, fallen logs or other supporting structures. They obtain their nutrients from rain and are not parasites. Rather they use trees or whatever they are growing on as a home.
Bromeliads usually bear flowers from a cup-like middle which collects water or rainwater and is often lined with what looks like moss.
The native habitat of Bromeliads is the rainforests of South America, but they can also be surprisingly drought hardy. And they are low maintenance as house plants.
Their exotic coloured flowers and leaf shapes are often strangely spectacular with glowing neon colours which are very eye-catching.
So how do you grow Bromeliad plants?
How To Grow Bromeliads
It is important to remember from the outset that Bromeliad plants are slow growing and usually only flower once in their lives. Fortunately, by the time they die off after flowering, they have usually made lots of baby plants which you can replant.
Also, they produce a bract, which is not the flower but often gets confused with the flower as they are often strongly coloured. The actual Bromeliad flowers grow out of these bracts.
Planting Bromeliads In The Garden
Plant your Bromeliad on moist mulch under an eve or shelter of a tree or shrub. As they get their nutrients through their leaves, they only use their roots to anchor themselves somewhere. Don’t dig a hole and bury the bottom half of the plant, just nestle it among mulch and leaf litter.
Although they are partial to the sun, they should not be placed or planted in a scorching sunny spot.
Planting Bromeliads For Indoors
Good draining mixes such as orchid mixes are a good medium to plant indoor Bromeliad. Pot your Bromeliad about halfway down the container or pot and backfill with the free draining medium.
With both indoor and outdoor Bromeliads, remember to place a little water in the cup. You can also freshen the water in the cup every 2 weeks or so. Beware of over watering your Bromeliad, a weekly watering is enough.
Bromeliad plants don’t require a lot of feeding so fertilise with a diluted balanced fertiliser mix. Or you can spray very diluted fertiliser over the whole plant.
Bromeliad plants thrive in the humidity of bathrooms but only if there is plenty of light. Window sills in the kitchen are another good bet. But Bromeliad will grow anywhere as long as they have enough light.
When Is The Best Time To Plant A Bromeliad?
If planting Bromeliads in the garden the best time to plant is spring, keeping them moist during the warmer summer months.
Indoors, Bromeliads can be planted throughout the year. They enjoy temperatures of between 15°C-27°C.
What Is The Meaning Of Bromeliads?
Bromeliads don’t appear to have any symbolic meaning beyond the exotic and eye-catching colours and shapes
But they do purify the air removing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). NASA conducted a 1989 investigation into this benefit. Some people believe a Bromeliad on your nightstand promotes a good night’s sleep.
House plants are believed to reduce stress levels in humans, both at home and in the office. A Japanese study looked into this factor. In fact, another study showed there was a 15% increase in productivity among office workers when plants were added to the working space.
Are Bromeliads Easy To Care For?
Bromeliads are very low maintenance as their leaves do most of their self-care by absorbing nutrients and water from the air.
How Fast Does A Bromeliad Grow?
Bromeliads grow slowly and can take anything from 1-3 years to reach flowering maturity.
How Long Do Bromeliads Live?
Most Bromeliads grown indoors can live for 2-5 before the mother plant dies off.
How Similar Are Bromeliads To Epiphytic Orchids?
Generally, Bromeliads will grow and thrive in the same climatic conditions as epiphytic orchids. They are much more tolerant than orchids of changes in temperature, drought, and over watering or feeding.
Where Do Bromeliads Grow Best?
Bromeliads like to grow in mulch in the garden in an area that is quite protected and has good drainage with soil leaning towards acidic.
They also grow well indoors in pots as long as they have enough ventilation and light. The same applies to the potting mix. A well draining mix is a must.
Do Bromeliads Like Sun Or Shade?
Bromeliads like a bit of sunshine (not scorching sun all day) and are partial to dappled shade as they originate in forests under the canopy.
How To Care For Bromeliads Properly?
If you want to encourage healthy growth and good flowering, Bromeliads need just a little extra TLC.
Once mature, indoor Bromeliads’ flowering cycle depends on daylight, humidity, temperature, water and fertilisation. To water correctly, water a little to moisten the growing medium and fill the cup.
Bright indirect light is good generally. Softer and spineless Bromeliads prefer lower light intensities. Specimens with stiffer spiky leaves prefer bright indirect light. Some can take the full tropical sun while others will scorch easily.
The best growing medium is generally one that drains well. They prefer moist soil rather than dripping wet. In a normal house, it is unnecessary to keep the central cup filled with water, as long as it is not bone dry.
Mist them occasionally with a spray bottle to simulate forest-like conditions. Remember that Bromeliads don’t like hard water. Use rainwater or bottled water instead.
Can Bromeliads Tolerate Cold?
Bromeliads do not favour freezing conditions, so if you live in such an area, plant them in pots and bring them indoors over winter.
If you live in an area that drops to below -20°C, your Bromeliads will not thrive.
Best Types Of Bromeliads
Newbies to growing Bromeliads should consider growing the following:
- Ananas comosus ‘Champaca.
After the flower dies, cut the babies or pups from the mother plant carefully with a sharp knife. If they have no roots, don’t worry, they will form roots once planted again.
One of the best things about growing Bromeliads is that they are relatively pest-free. If you do notice aphids or mealy bugs, diluted dishwashing liquid will get rid of them and not harm the plant.
Bromeliads are very rewarding for newbie gardeners and new house plant parents as they are easy to grow and care for. As long as you don’t over water them. Their colours and different structures will induce many conversations and some of their flowers are truly spectacular.
Why don’t you try them this spring?