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Indoor Bromeliad Care: Growing Great Blooms

by | Jul 26, 2023 | Gardening | 0 comments

Bromeliads are native to Central and South America. They grow on rocks, trees, and on the ground in wooded and humid areas. They’re some of our most fascinating and beautiful ornamentals.

Their colorful foliage ranges from silvery gray to dark green. It can be variegated with pink and off-white striping.

Indoor Bromeliad

Bromeliad flowers appear in many shapes and colors. They’re often borne on spikes extending above the plant, but in some varieties, flowers are almost hidden in the center funnel of the plant and surrounded by brilliant inner leaves. The root system of most bromeliads serves mainly as an attachment to rocks, tree bark, or soil. Roots furnish very little food to the plant, whose water supply is stored in a natural vase-like center formed by their durable foliage.

Indoor Bromeliads

Bromeliads are ideal for home decoration. They can be displayed in pots, hanging baskets, dish gardens, or on bark or driftwood. They’re relatively easy to care for and don’t need to be in large pots or containers.

Watering Bromeliads

Some bromeliads (i.e., many Tillandsia) should be misted with water frequently, while others require watering only once every ten days to three weeks. Once a month, the plants should be fertilized lightly at the roots with a water-soluble fertilizer. For indoor bromeliads, minimal water should be left in the cup. You may have to add water to the cup frequently in small amounts. Try to keep the root system moist, but never wet.

Salts & Bromeliads

Bromeliads are highly sensitive to salt accumulation from water standing in the cup. Take care to invert the plant once every two weeks or so, and flush out accumulated salts. Salts will make the leaves turn brown at the tips and eventually die. Distilled water and rain water, which don’t contain mineral salts, are best for watering bromeliads.

Propagating Bromeliads

When the original plant completes its bloom, it sends out shoots or “pups,” after which the mother plant slowly declines. Propagation is achieved by removing the pups and cutting as closely as possible to the mother plant with a sharp, clean knife. Pups should then be repotted in individual containers.

Light & Bromeliads

Bromeliads with variegated foliage are more vividly colored when they receive bright light. Filtered sun is preferable; direct sunlight will usually burn bromeliad foliage.

Insects & Bromeliads

Normally, soft brown or black scales are the only insects to infest bromeliads. Scales can be sponged off with a soap or pesticide solution. If mature scales can’t be wiped off easily, use a fingernail or knife blade to dislodge them.

FAQ: Indoor Bromeliad Care

Q: How often should I water my indoor bromeliad?

A: Water your bromeliad plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Bromeliads have a central tank or cup — keep this filled with water, but be cautious not to overwater the soil to avoid root rot.

Q: What kind of light do bromeliads need?

A2: Bromeliads prefer bright, indirect sunlight. They can also thrive under fluorescent lights, making them well-suited for indoor environments with less natural light.

Q: Do I need to fertilize my indoor bromeliad, and if so, how often?

A3: Fertilizing isn’t essential but can encourage more vibrant foliage. If you choose to fertilize, do it sparingly and use a half-strength, balanced liquid fertilizer not more than once a month during the growing season.

Q: What is the ideal temperature for indoor bromeliads?

A4: Bromeliads favor temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). They can tolerate fluctuation within this range, but avoid drastic temperature changes.

Q: How do I know if my bromeliad is getting too much light?

A5: If the leaves of your bromeliad become faded, bleached, or scorched, it may be exposed to too much direct sunlight. Move it to a location with bright, but more indirect, light.

Q: Can bromeliads bloom indoors, and how can I encourage blooming?

A6: Yes, bromeliads can bloom indoors. To encourage blooming, ensure proper care and consider using an ethylene-producing technique, such as placing a ripe apple near the plant in a sealed bag for a few days.

Q7: How should I pot my bromeliad?

A7: Use a well-draining potting mix designed for bromeliads or orchids and a pot with good drainage. The pot size should comfortably accommodate the plant’s root system without being overly spacious.

Q: How should I handle pests on my indoor bromeliad?

A: To combat mites and scale insects, rinse the leaves with water or use insecticidal soap. Avoid harsh chemicals that may damage the plant.

Q: When and how should I repot my bromeliad?

A: Repot bromeliads infrequently, as they prefer to be slightly root-bound. You typically need to repot only if the plant has outgrown its container or for division of offsets, known as “pups.”

Q: What should I do with the ‘pups’ produced by my bromeliad?

A: Once the pups are about one-third the size of the parent plant, you can gently remove them and pot them separately to start new plants. Make sure the pups have their own roots before detaching them.