The unusual plant formations and vivid colours of bromeliads enhance appeal and add interest to any collection of indoor plants. Native to South and Central America, these tropical plants make ideal houseplants because they are easy to care for and liven up the space. With more than 150 varieties, bromeliads, which are closely related to pineapples and Spanish moss, exhibit a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Although the plants flower once in their lifetime, they produce pups or offshoots that develop into individual plants.
Grow the bromelia plant in a well-draining, lightweight potting mix. Use a pot with drainage holes through its base. Place the pot in a spot with plenty of indirect but bright sunlight, such as a window with lightweight curtains or vertical blinds.
Irrigate the bromelia plant one to two times a week using distilled water. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the centre of the plant cup, and another 1/2 cup of water over the soil. Water the soil again when it feels dry to the touch. Avoid over-watering the plant since it increases chances of rot. Flush the plant's cup with water to keep it from containing stagnant water that increases susceptibility to pests and disease and prevents salt build-up.
Maintain consistent temperature between 21.1 and 23.8 degrees C during the day and 15.5 and 18.3 degrees C during the night. Mist the plant daily to provide it the 40 to 60 per cent humidity it needs to thrive and remain healthy. Alternatively, place a humidifier near the indoor plant or place its pot over a saucer filled with small rocks and water. Keep the base of the pot above the level of water to keep it from seeping in through the drainage holes.
Feed the bromelia plant an all-purpose houseplant fertiliser diluted to 1/2 or 1/3 its recommended strength every three months. Flush the potted plant with water before applying fertiliser to leech out accumulated salts through the drainage holes.
Remove the spent bloom and stalk on the bromelia plant when it fades and begins to lose colour. Use sharp, sterilised pruning scissors to cut the spent section of the stalk and discard. Transplant pups to new pots when they grow to 1/3 the size of the parent bromelia plant. Cut each pup close to the parent plant and repot in a container with well-draining, loose potting mix.
Open windows on days that are not too cold to improve air circulation to bromelia plants. Alternatively, use a fan to circulate air around the plant. Deter pests including mealybugs and spider mites with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Tips and warnings
- Open windows on days that are not too cold to improve air circulation to bromelia plants. Alternatively, use a fan to circulate air around the plant.
- Deter pests including mealybugs and spider mites with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Bromeliads; Karen Russ, et al.; 2007
- Bromeliad Plant: Bromeliad Care Instructions
- Rainforest Flora: Bromeliads
- Smithsonian Institute; Bromeliad Fact Sheet; Katie Elzer; 2000
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Bromeliads; Robert J. Black, et al.; 2009
- Nurseries Online; Growing Bromeliads: Plant Care for Bromeliads; Steve Ward; 2005