How to Grow and Care for Bromeliad Plants at Home

Bromeliads are one of my favorite plants to grow indoors. For the most part, they’re relatively easy to care for as long as you follow some key pointers. Here, you’ll find my tried and tested bromeliad plant care tips for planting, soil considerations, light exposure, water frequencies, and more.

Bromeliad Plant Care Tips

What to Do Before Planting Bromeliads

Prior to planting any type of bromeliad, ensure you have the proper supplies and the perfect place picked out in your home or office.

Bromeliad Planting Supplies: 

You’ll need a potting mix, pebbles, and a draining container an inch or two larger than your bromeliad. Bromeliads don’t have large root systems, and too much spare room can hold too much moisture.

Most types of bromeliads are best suited to traditional potting vessels that sit on the floor or tabletop. Additionally, you’ll need a pair of sturdy gardening gloves for handling your plant because some bromeliads have sharp edges and points.

Picking the Best Location for Your Bromeliad Plant: 

Most types of bromeliads prefer a humid location with lots of filtered/indirect sunlight. To determine the best place in your home or office for your new plant, look at what environmental conditions your species of bromeliad prefers. Likely, your bromeliad will fare best in a spot with a south-facing window where its leaves won’t be scorched by the sun.

The Best Soil Mix

As bromeliad plants are predominantly epiphytes or terrestrial species, your soil requirements will be very specific to the type of plant you’re growing. 

An epiphyte is a plant that grows on tree bark and rocks rather than in soil. Epiphytes take moisture and nutrients through special cells on their leaves, rather than their roots. As a result, bromeliads should never be potted in straight potting soil because they will hold too much moisture and could damage the plant.

For terrestrial bromeliad species – the best potting mix for bromeliads is well-draining, porous, coarse, and slightly acidic (pH 4 to 7). You can use a potting mix created specifically for bromeliads (via Amazon), or you can make your own by mixing 1 part potting soil, 1 part perlite, and 1 part peat or bark. Bromeliads can also grow in soilless potting media.

In a pinch, a potting mix for orchids or cacti will also do.

How to Plant a Bromeliad

  1. Gather supplies (potting vessel, potting mix, pebbles, gloves, and soft water).
  2. Layer the bottom of your pot with pebbles. This creates extra weight that will prevent your top-heavy bromeliad from tipping.
  3. Now, add a layer of potting mix that will allow the top of your bromeliad’s root system to rest a couple of inches below the top of the container.
  4. Place the bromeliad in the pot and fill the potting mix around its root system until completely covered, and about one inch remains between the top of the potting medium and the top of the pot.
  5. Add some water to the potting medium and ensure it drains completely.
  6. Fill the bromeliad’s center cup with water.
  7. Change water every few days to prevent bacterial growth.

Light Preferences

Since dappled sunlight beneath a canopy of rainforest trees fills the average bromeliad plant’s native environment, most bromeliads prefer to receive a full day of bright, indirect/filtered sunlight rather than direct sunlight or complete shade.

Too much sunlight can scorch a bromeliad’s leaves, and too little sunlight can cause slow growth, no blossoming, or muted colors.

Temperature & Humidity Preferences

Depending on your bromeliad’s native environment, it will prefer warmer or cooler temperatures. Despite these differences, most bromeliads will thrive in average indoor temperatures that hover around 70°F with an environment of moderate to high humidity.

If you live in an arid environment, consider adding a tray of pebbles and water beneath your bromeliad’s container to increase humidity, or practice frequent misting with soft water.

Although a few types of bromeliads have outlying care preferences, most prefer the following highly similar conditions and care.

When and How to Water Bromeliad Plants

With their unique root systems, bromeliads take up most of their water from humidity in the air and the water that gathers in their central cups. To water your bromeliad, fill its central cup with water and mist its leaves frequently (especially, in hot, dry conditions).

Your bromeliad’s potting mix should remain moist and humid, but never soggy to prevent root rot, to which bromeliads are particularly sensitive. Add water to the bromeliad’s soil when the top inch or two feel dry, and allow all excess moisture to drain completely. You must water the soil more frequently in hot, dry conditions than in cool, wet weather.

All bromeliad plants are sensitive to metals in their water. Water your bromeliad plants with soft, distilled, or filtered water, and do not use a metal watering can.

Feeding & Fertilizing

Bromeliads tend to be slow growers and light feeders. As a result, they do not require much fertilization. Too much fertilizer can diminish the vibrant colors of some bromeliad varieties.

However, you can promote growth once a month in spring and summer by feeding your bromeliad a well-balanced, half-strength, water-soluble fertilizer (via Amazon). Add this fertilizer directly to your bromeliad’s central cup when watering.

Pruning Bromeliads

Bromeliad foliage does not need to be pruned. However, their large, showy blossoms and central inflorescence should be removed once spent. Bromeliads only blossom once in their lifetime, and removing the spent flower will allow the plant to focus all its energy and nutrients on the new pups it will begin to develop.

Once the blossom is spent, use clean, sharp pruning shears to snip it off as close to the base of the plant as possible without damaging the bromeliad’s healthy, live foliage.

Propagation

After blooming, a bromeliad will develop new offshoots called pups that can be used to propagate your plant. As your parent plant begins to die, pups will develop near the base of the plant.

Allow the pups to remain attached to the parent plant until they reach about 1/3 of the parent’s size. At this point, they can be trimmed away from the plant. Be sure pups have begun to develop root systems and central cups before you plant them in their own pots.

When & How to Repot

Most bromeliads purchased from a store or florist will not require repotting since their lifecycles are rather short. However, when growing a bromeliad from a pup, it will benefit from repotting when it outgrows its container.

You can repot a bromeliad once you notice parts of its root system protruding from the potting mix or out the bottom of its pot. Choose a container one or two inches larger than its current container and repot in the spring or summer during the growing season.

Common Bromeliad Problems, Pests & Diseases

Common Bromeliad Problems, Pests and Diseases

Bromeliads can sometimes be prone to scale, mealybugs, and aphids, but they’re actually quite naturally resistant to pests. However, there are some problems common to these beauties.

Overwatering and Root Rot

As epiphytes, bromeliads are particularly susceptible to root rot, which occurs when the plant’s environment is too moist for its root system. As a result, bacteria develop and rots the plant’s roots.

Unsuitable Container

Pots that are too large or don’t drain will hold too much moisture in the potting mix, leading to root rot.

Heavy Metals in Water

Heavy metals in hard water not only leave water spots on bromeliad foliage but can also clog the foliage’s water and nutrient intake cells and damage the plant’s sensitive system.

Essential Tools for all Types of Bromeliads

Essential House Plant Tools

Low-maintenance bromeliads do not require any specialized tools for their care, but you should have the following items on hand if you plan to grow a bromeliad:

  • Distilled, soft, or filtered water
  • Non-metal watering can
  • Misting bottle
  • Protective gardening gloves
  • Bromeliad potting mix
  • Balanced, water-soluble fertilizer
Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

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.

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