Tips on Growing Bromeliads
Bromeliads are beautiful, vibrant, tropical-looking plants that can provide a splash of brightness to any home or indoor garden. While they aren’t suited for outdoor growth in most climates, these flowering plants bring life to any office, bedroom, kitchen, or sunroom like no other. Bromeliad care can seem tough to new indoor gardeners, but these interesting plants are surprisingly straightforward and require only a little special care in order to thrive.
Types of Bromeliads
While most people identify bromeliad plants as the petite, flowering variety, they actually come in a staggering variety. Flowing Spanish moss is one type of bromeliad, while pineapple plants are another. Generally, bromeliads are epiphytes, meaning these plants like to cling and grow on other structures. It is worth noting that, unlike certain types of moss or ivy, these plants are not parasitic. They simply use the structures they grow on as a means of structural support without sapping nutrients from the larger structure.
Determining the type of bromeliad you have can be a bit challenging without the help of a professional. The most common types you’re likely to get from a nursery include:
- Aechmea Fasciata
- Billbergia Nutans
- Billbergia Pyramidalis
Ideally, you’ll want to determine what sort of bromeliad you’re getting at the time of purchase in order to determine the specifics of its future care. However, following the bromeliad key may help you determine the specifics of your plant if you don’t have access to this information. The types you’ll have access to in colder climates will likely be limited.
Choosing Your Planter
A general rule of thumb, it’s much easier to grow these plants in a container. This allows you to move them as needed to maintain proper light levels and ensures these delicate plants aren’t subjected to scorching from the sun during hot summer afternoons.
When choosing a pot for your plant, ensure it’s one that has several drainage holes. You’ll want a pot that’s no more than 30% larger than the root ball of your bromeliad. This ensures your plant will have access to plenty of nutrients and will be held snugly upright as it grows while still having plenty of space to establish its root system.
Don’t just plop your plant into regular soil from your yard. You might be able to make your new plant grow this way, but it certainly won’t be as big and beautiful as it could be. Like many warm-weather plants, bromeliads require well-drained soil, so using a moisture control additive in your soil is a must if you want your plant to thrive.
Mix your soil with a natural additive such as Harvest Gold Organics to ensure you’re getting both proper plant nutrition and drainage after planting. Otherwise, a simple orchid-strength potting soil is adequate for these plants.
Put a bit of dirt into the bottom of your chosen container and position the bottom of your bromeliad’s root ball against it. The top of the root ball should be around ¾ of an inch to 1 inch below the rim of the container. Then, use your soil mix to fill in around your plant, patting it down to ensure it’s held firmly in place.
Right after planting, give your new plant a good watering to help it become accustomed to its new home. However, don’t pour the water at the base of the plant. Instead, pour the water into the cups formed by the leaves. Settle the pot into a drainage tray that contains gravel and a bit of water as a means to preserve humidity without saturating your plant’s roots.
There are, of course, bromeliads that don’t require a potting medium at all. More commonly known as air plants, these can be affixed to some sort of support, where they are then misted as needed. These are easy to care for, and require very little intervention in order to thrive.
Choosing a Spot for Your Plant
Whether you’re moving your bromeliad outdoors or keeping it indoors, you’ll want to ensure you find a good balance of sunlight and shade. Indirect but bright sunlight often offers optimal results, as is the case with many indoor plants. If you have a sunny houseplant alcove, your bromeliad will likely do well there, as it receives plenty of sunlight and warmth, but the light is filtered enough by your windows to avoid burning the leaves. A humid environment is also beneficial, but this can be replicated in indoor spaces by building a drainage tray with gravel and water during the potting stage.
Unlike most plants, you don’t want to just sprinkle water over your bromeliads. Bromeliad leaves are slightly different from those of many houseplants. They collect in a sort of cup at the center, which allows them to take in water in their normally hot, dry natural climates. This is where you’ll want to pour the water. Pouring water into the soil and saturating it too often may lead to rot, so pouring into the leafy cup at the center is best.
Generally, you’ll aim to keep this center cup full. The plant can hold water and take it in as it’s needed, so simply giving it a supply to keep on hand is good enough in most cases. However, if the water isn’t used up over a 10-day span, you’ll want to dump out the old water and replace it with new water. The soil should never be saturated, but keep it slightly damp so the roots don’t dry out.
Keep in mind that, while bromeliads aren’t usually finicky about soil composition, many of them react strongly to the water they’re given. First, ensure you’re giving your bromeliad room-temperature water. Cold water can shock the plant and lead to withering or other growth difficulties. Second, try to use distilled water or collected rainwater instead of tap water. Bromeliads are often sensitive to the chemicals found in hard water, and it could lead to serious growth issues.
Starting a month after its first planting, use a dissolvable orchid plant food on your bromeliad, and continue using it according to the food’s product label from then on. Bromeliads aren’t orchids, but the two plants have similar nutritional needs, so the food is generally used for plants falling under both categories. Generally, this food will be administered by misting the bromeliad’s leaves because, as is the case with water, this is how the plant absorbs most of its nutrients.
Perfect Your Indoor Garden
Whether you’re getting ready to plant a whole host of bromeliads or you’re looking for diversity in your already-huge houseplant collection, you need a good soil additive that’s capable of controlling moisture, feeding your plant and generally giving them the boost they deserve. Contact Harvest Gold Organics to learn more about how this organic silica-based additive can get the job done while you perfect your bromeliad growing technique.