Low Maintenance Plant: Bromeliads

Brighten your indoors with colorful long blooming bromeliads.

You’ll enjoy their exotic appearance, easy-care nature and the beautiful foliage and flowers .

This diverse group of plants includes pineapples and Spanish moss as well as the more popular and colorful indoor varieties. Most of the bromeliads gardeners grow are epiphytes. In their natural setting, these plants use structures or other plants for support and gather moisture and nutrients from leaf litter and rainfall. This has given rise to one of their common names, air plant.

You’ll often see bromeliads mounted on a piece of wood or stone, displayed in a glass globe or growing in a fast-draining potting or orchid mix.

The leaves of many bromeliads come together to form a cuplike structure known as a tank. These bromeliads can absorb water from the tank. When grown in a potting mix these plants will absorb water through the roots like your other tropical plants eliminating the need to fill the tank.

If you choose to water through the tank you will not need to water the soil. Just keep the tank filled with water. Overflow from the tank will be sufficient to moisten the growing medium. Use distilled water or clean the tank to reduce the risk of salt buildup and fungus that can cause rot. Avoid this method when growing bromeliads in cool poorly lit conditions.

You may find it easiest to grow these plants in a container and treat them like your other indoor plants. Select a pot with drainage holes filled with a fast-draining potting or orchid mix. Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of the planting mix is dry. Avoid overwatering that can lead to root rot.

Grow these plants in a bright location for best results. Bromeliads are light feeders so only fertilize actively growing plants. Use a dilute solution of flowering plant fertilizer as needed.

You may find a few bromeliads growing in succulent gardens. The Cryptanthus commonly called earth star and starfish plant are ground dwelling bromeliads native to areas where succulent plants naturally grow. This makes them adaptable to the low humidity found indoors.

Once the original plant finishes blooming it will start to decline. Don’t worry. Small plants called offsets or pups will sprout around the original plant. These can be removed, potted, and grown to maturity in their own containers. Once the young plant reaches full size you can force it to bloom. Place the plant in a plastic bag with a piece of apple for several days. The apple releases ethylene gas that initiates flowering. Remove the plant from the plastic, return to brightly lit location and wait for the flowers.


At a Glance
Name: Bromeliad including (Aechmea, Guzmania, Neoregelia and Tillandsia)
Size: 4 to 24” (taller when in bloom) depending on variety
Light: Most thrive in bright light
Water: Thoroughly when top few inches of soil is dry
Soil: Fast-draining potting or orchid mix

 

Written by, gardening expert, Melinda Myers.  Each month Melinda will feature a low maintenance plant perfect for beginning and experienced gardeners looking for attractive easy care plants.  Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Low Maintenance Plant of the Month with you!