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Bromeliad Care

What is a Bromeliad?

Bromeliad is the common name for a family of plants that contain many of the most ornamental and interesting types of plants available to the decorator/hobbyist. With one exception, all the species in the dozen or so genera are from the New World. In addition, bromeliads are possibly the newest plants to evolve on earth, making their appearance some 10 million years ago (flowering plants began about 60 million years ago). The most popular genera are: Tillandsia with so many artistically fascinatingly shaped air plants, Guzmania and Vriesea with such colorful and long lasting inflorescences, Neoregelia with its kaleidoscope-colored leaves, Aechmea featuring Aechmea fasciata with huge, beautiful pink bloom spike, and "Earth Star" Cryptanthus with its smaller, colorful species.

Most bromeliads have leaves radiating from a central point creating a rosette that forms a water holding tank. This ability allows bromeliads in Nature to survive periods of drought and, by extension, need watering only periodically in the home. Many fine books have been written about bromeliads and it is beyond the scope of this web site to get into detail. Most bromeliads are potted, unlike tillandsias. This means their care is a little different because the soil has to be watered periodically. The greener, softer leaved bromeliads, such as Guzmanias and Vrieseas, will burn if subjected to much direct sunlight. Likewise, the grayer, stiffer leaved bromeliads that have spines on the edges of the leaves will need more light over time than the previously mentioned types. However, in many hot, dry areas they, too, may burn with much direct sunlight. They justlike bright indirect light.

Indoor Care

Water the center cups and soil with bottled drinking or rainwater every two weeks or so. When the water in the cup dries out and/or the soil becomes pretty dry, it is time to water. The plants don't need a lot of water in the cups indoors.

Outdoor Care

Water the plants with a hose whenever you water. Be careful not to put them into direct sunlight. Bright light is best. Don't let the plants freeze. Move them inside somewhere when the temperatures approach freezing. A small amount of fertilizer in the soil added periodically is good.

Offsets

Most bromeliads produce offsets when they bloom. These can be grown to maturity . When the offset(s) grow to be 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant, cut them off where they attach and pot them in a fast-draining soil mix. They should root quickly and continue growing. Treat them the same as a mature plant. Don't ever let the soil become soggy for too long. This shouldn't happen in a fast-draining mix.