When planting a bromeliad, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the number of choices when it comes time to select a potting mix or even create your own potting mix at home. Choosing the right bromeliad soil mix can make or break your bromeliad plant’s health, so it’s essential to select one that will meet the needs of your species of bromeliad. Join us as we help you choose the best soil mix for your beloved Bromeliad plants.
- The Best Soil Mix for Bromeliad Plants — The Essentials
- The Role Soil Plays in Plant Health and Growth
- Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Bromeliad Plants
- The Importance of Well-Draining Potting Soil for Bromeliad Plants
- 4 More Considerations for Choosing a Bromeliad Potting Mix
- The Ultimate Bromeliad Plant Potting Mix Recipe
- What Potting Soil Should You Use When Repotting a Bromeliad Plant?
- Bromeliad Plant Soil FAQ:
- More Bromeliad Plant Care Guides from Petal Republic:
The Best Soil Mix for Bromeliad Plants — Key Takeaways
For optimal plant care, pot bromeliads in a well-draining, coarse, porous potting mix (pH of 5 to 6). Saxicolous, epiphytic, and terrestrial bromeliads’ soil needs vary. Saxicolous and epiphytic plants require less soil, and terrestrial bromeliads rely on more traditional root systems, requiring a higher nutrient content.
4 Key Considerations When Choosing a Bromeliad Potting Mix
1. Bromeliad Plant Size
Bromeliad plants can range from a couple of inches to a few feet tall. Consider the size of your plant before selecting a potting mix.
The potting mix you select for your plant will anchor the bromeliad’s root system and support the plant’s structure. The taller your bromeliad plant is or will be at maturity, the heavier your potting mix should be. Choosing too light of a potting mix could result in your plant toppling over and breaking.
2. Environmental Humidity
The level of humidity in your plant’s indoor environment will also affect the type of potting mix you choose for your bromeliad. If your plant is in a low-humidity or arid environment, you’ll want to select a potting mix that holds slightly more moisture while still draining easily.
Consider replacing the perlite in your potting mix with bark, which will take up some moisture and increase the humidity around your plant without exposing your bromeliad’s roots to excessively soggy moisture.
3. Type of Bromeliad Plant
Three types of bromeliads grow in different locations in their natural environments:
- Saxicolous bromeliads grow in rock crevices and outcroppings.
- Epiphytic bromeliads grow from the bark of trees.
- Terrestrial bromeliads grow in the ground, usually in sandy soil.
The type of bromeliad plant you’re growing also affects the type of potting mix you choose. You should select or create a potting mix that’s most appropriate for your bromeliad and most closely resembles its natural environment.
Saxicolous and epiphytic bromeliad plants have special cells on their leaves designed to absorb moisture and nutrients. Their potting mix needs are most similar, requiring a well-draining potting mix that doesn’t actually need to contain any soil.
Terrestrial bromeliads take up nutrients and moisture through their root systems and require a potting mix with a slightly higher soil content than their saxicolous and epiphytic counterparts.
4. The pH Levels Suited to Bromeliad Plants
Bromeliad plants generally prefer a slightly acidic potting mix with a pH ranging from 5 to 6.
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Bromeliad Plants
Root and stem rot are the two most common soil-related problems for bromeliad plants. Too much moisture in your plant’s potting mix will lead to bacterial growth, rotting a bromeliad plant’s root system and stem.
Signs of root and stem rot include:
- Foul-smelling plant
- Wet or boggy-feeling potting soil
- Brown or soggy leaves at the base of the plant
Although overwatering plants can cause these problems, they can also result from your potting mix not draining well and holding too much moisture.
The Importance of Well-Draining Potting Soil for Bromeliad Plants
All three types of bromeliad plants (saxicolous, epiphytic, and terrestrial) are highly sensitive to the amount of moisture around their roots and susceptible to root rot. As a result, bromeliad plants must have a well-draining potting soil that will keep your bromeliad’s roots pleasantly humid but never soggy.
For a well-draining potting mix that’s suited to bromeliads, either purchase or create a mix that includes ingredients like perlite, sand, and bark. These well-draining ingredients should comprise the largest portion of your potting mix.
For saxicolous and epiphytic bromeliad plants, aim for about 1/4 of your potting mix to be actual soil. For terrestrial bromeliad plants, soil content can be slightly higher at about 1/2 of your potting mix.
The Ultimate Bromeliad Plant Potting Mix Recipe
While plenty of ready-made, pre-mixed bromeliad potting mix options are available, you can also create your own at home by mixing a few common potting mix ingredients. Making your own is less expensive and allows you to tailor the potting mix to your unique plant’s needs.
Saxicolous and Epiphytic Bromeliad Plant Soil Mixes:
To create the perfect potting mix for saxicolous bromeliads or epiphytic bromeliads, mix:
- 1 part peat moss, 1 part perlite, and 1 part bark
- 1 part perlite, 1 part bark, and 1 part soilless potting mix
When potting an epiphytic bromeliad, you can also use a potting mix that’s formulated for orchids in a pinch. Terrestrial bromeliad plants can also do well potted in a mix formulated for cacti and succulents.
Terrestrial Bromeliad Plant Soil Mix:
To create the perfect potting mix for terrestrial bromeliads, mix:
- 2 parts soil, 1 part bark, and 1 part perlite
If you’re looking for a ready-made mix, I like Bloomscape’s all-purpose potting soil, which offers excellent drainage, aeration, and moisture retention.
The Role Soil Plays in Plant Health and Growth
Except for air plants (bromeliad genus Tillandsia), potting soil comprises the bottom half of most bromeliad plants’ artificial environments. It provides nutrients, holds moisture, and supports a plant’s root system, helping keep the plant upright.
Soil plays several critical roles in plant health. First, it provides a foundation for roots so plants can stand firmly. But just as importantly, soil delivers the water, oxygen, and nutrients plants need to survive and thrive. Let’s look at a few ways plants rely on soil to survive:
- Plants need nutrients, such as minerals, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, and more; plant roots take these nutrients from the soil.
- Plants also need air to transform sugars into energy; the tiny spaces between soil particles, known as pores, contain air that plants can access through their roots.
- Plants need water, and the pores in the soil hold water; plants access the water with their roots, and it then travels up and through the plants, delivering nutrients, cooling the plant, and spurring photosynthesis.
- Finally, soil acts like insulation, protecting plants’ roots against sharp temperature changes.
What’s in Soil?
It’s a mix of compost — or decomposing plant and animal matter — and mineral particles. The type of soil depends on the texture and size of these particles.
- Sand particles are the largest. Sandy soil drains very quickly, allowing lots of air to get to roots, but it doesn’t hold moisture or nutrients well.
- Clay particles are much smaller. Clay soil holds water and nutrients but doesn’t drain quickly or provide much air for plant roots.
- Silt particles are in between clay and sand in size. Silty soil holds moisture and nutrients, drains moderately, and offers adequate aeration to plant roots.
Soils have a mixture of these three particle sizes and are named for the particle they’re the most of. When there’s about the same amount of sand, clay, and silt, the soil is known as “loamy.”
Other types of soil include “peaty,” which has a high amount of compost or biomass. Peaty soil offers both moisture and nutrient retention and aeration and tends to have a lower pH level.
On the other side of the pH scale lies “chalky” soil, which tends to be more alkaline. Chalky soil drains quickly and doesn’t retain nutrients very well.
What are the Primary Components Used in a Potting Soil Mix?
Potting soil is made from a mix of elements. When blended, they will hold moisture and nutrients, allow excess water to drain, and provide aeration to plant roots. Each plant type has its own specific soil needs, so choosing the right soil mix is key to plant health.
Common elements found in potting soil mixes include:
- Coco coir is a fibrous material made from coconut husk that improves aeration.
- Compost/organic matter enriches the soil with nutrients.
- Perlite, or broken down volcanic rock, improves moisture retention, aeration, and drainage.
- Pine bark fines, or tiny shavings of mulch that increase acidity and moisture retention
- Pumice, or lightweight volcanic rock that improves both drainage and aeration
- Sand helps soil drain quickly.
- Soil activator is a commercial product containing humic acids that speed up the composting process, helping increase nutrient levels in the soil.
- Sphagnum peat moss is a non-renewable resource harvested from wetlands and bogs; it increases soil acidity while enhancing moisture retention and drainage.
- Vermiculite is a lightweight soil amendment that boosts water nutrient retention, and moisture retention.
Bromeliad Plant Soil FAQs:
What Soil pH is Best for Bromeliad Plants?
Bromeliad plants do best in soil with a slightly acidic pH. Remember that a neutral pH is 7.0, and any number below this is considered acidic. Bromeliad plants do best in a mix with a pH between 5.0-6.0.
Can you use cactus soil for Bromeliad plants?
Cacti or succulent soil mixes tend to have similar beneficial characteristics (such as slight acidity and good drainage), which is suitable for Bromeliad plants.
What are the main soil considerations when repotting a Bromeliad plant?
Always switch out your soil when you repot your Bromeliad plants in order to remove any issues with compaction and diseases.
How do you mix Bromeliad soil?
To make the Bromeliad soil mix, add all the ingredients to a large container, then add water until just moist. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together, and then fill your Bromeliad pots.
Does Bromeliad like moist soil?
Bromeliad plants do best in a potting mix that holds moisture yet also drains well. Ensure your potting vessel has a drainage system so excess water can disperse during watering cycles.
Have Fun and Enjoy Your Beautiful Bromeliad Plants!
All concerns about the proper bromeliad soil mix aside, when growing bromeliad plants indoors, the most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy your plants! Don’t be afraid to experiment with soilless mixes and even mounting – not potting – your epiphytic bromeliads to bark, wood, or rocks.
More Bromeliad Plant Care Guides from Petal Republic:
- The 17 Best Types of Bromeliad Plants to Grow at Home
- When and How to Water Bromeliad Plants
- Feeding and Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants
- Bromeliad Plant Light Requirements
- How to Prune a Bromeliad Plant
- 12 Amazing Benefits of Bromeliad Plants
- The Best Bromeliad Plant Delivery Services
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.