Bromeliad Plant Care

Bromeliad plant care is a breeze. Bromelaiads are unique, low-maintenance plants related to pineapples. They don't need much water and will grow happily in a low light environment. Their tough leaves are impervious to most insects.

Neoregelia 'Purple Star'

With their often spotted or striped leaves, bromeliads are more exotic in their appearance than any other houseplant. They are unique in that they are nearly as striking out of bloom as they are when flowering.

Although flowers are not exactly what they produce.

A bromeliad produces an inflorescence with colorful bracts. Whatever you call them, they are beautiful and long lasting when they appear.

These bright orange bromeliad flowers are erupting like a volcano at the Maui Tropical Plantation.

The inflorescences double the height of the plants.

The leaves of a bromeliad are arranged in a rosette.

This forms a natural "cup" which holds water just like a man-made cup does.

The bromeliad plant cares for itself by growing in this fashion.

In the rain forests from which it hails, the bromeliad is an epiphyte. It attaches itself to trees and uses its cup to catch the rain.

Because the roots of epiphytes are not really functional, bromeliads have small root systems. Pot your bromeliad in a container just large enough to hold it without tipping over. Use any fast draining potting mix. Something with a lot of peat or bark in it will work nicely.

You can water your plant by pouring water into the cup or onto the soil, or both. Just don't allow the soil to become saturated.

Add a small amount (1/4 what the package says) of liquid fertilizer to the water every once in a while. Bromeliads do not need much food.

In the wild, these plants often live on the jungle floor where not much sunlight filters through. This has caused them to be well suited to the average person's living room. But just because they don't need bright light does not mean that they don't need any. Place them under reading lamps or near windows.

A plant that does not get enough light will not bloom and, worse, will attract insects.


Buy a 5" Bromeliad

Buy a Sweet Pineapple Plant

A bromeliad's leaves are so thick and tough that not many insects are interested in feasting upon them. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to one of the arch villains of the garden.

Scale.

Scale has two forms: the crawlers which are invisible, and the mature bugs which look like brown dots attached to the leaves.

Good bromeliad plant care requires that you check the undersides of the leaves periodically for these beastly pests.

If you find them--and there are only a few--wash them off with a soapy sponge. Rinse the plant off. Follow this with a horticultural oil spray. Drench the plant. The soap scrub will remove the mature scale. The oil spray is to smother the crawlers.

Segregate the plant. Scale travels.

Repeat the soap and oil treatment each week for a month. Then keep a close eye on the plant so you can catch any re-infestation in the early stages.

If there are lots of bugs by the time you notice them, don't even bother with the soap and oil.

It's too late.


The best thing to do is replace the plant. The risk of scale spreading to the other plants in your collection is too great.

Either you will touch the infested plant and then handle another plant without washing your hands or the insects will travel from plant to plant on their own.

I know this all sounds very dire, but in 12 years of growing bromeliads, I've never had a single scale infestation on them. The advice I give is from my experience with this insect on other plants.

In all likelihood, you'll never have a problem.

Each bromeliad plant blooms just once. The inflo can last for months.

Once it dies, you can remove it. The mother plant will live for as long a another two years. During this time, she wil not bloom again, but she will produce pups. These offshoots will emerge all around the base of the momma. Instead of one plant, you'll end up with a cluster.

Each pup will eventually produce its own beautiful bloom.

You can leave the pups with the mom or separate them as you see fit. I think they re-bloom quicker if left together.

That's all there is to bromeliad plant care.


Related Pages:

Propagating Bromeliads is Easy: They Reproduce Themselves

Aechmeas: Urn Plants with Colorful Bracts

Go from Bromeliad Plant Care back to Tropical House Plants

Go from Bromeliad Plant Care to Plant Guides' Home Page


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