Everything You Need to Know About When & How to Fertilize Bromeliad Plants

Bromeliads are a family of refreshingly low-maintenance houseplants that offer a big payoff in beauty and appeal. Given the right indoor conditions, most bromeliad plants are typically light feeders. However, a small amount of fertilizer given at the right times can really enhance bromeliad foliage and flowers during the growing season. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about when and how to fertilize bromeliad plants at home.  


Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants — The Essentials

Feed bromeliad plants a liquid, low-nitrogen or balanced fertilizer diluted to ¼ strength. Fertilize monthly in spring and summer only. Add fertilizer to the central cup of urn plants, spray on the leaves of epiphytic varieties, and add slow-release pellets to the soil of terrestrial bromeliads.


The Role of Fertilizing in Bromeliad Plant Health and Growth

The Role of Fertilizing in Bromeliad Plant Health and Growth

In nature, bromeliads grow on trees, in the soil, and among rocks. Whether it’s a terrestrial bromeliad using its roots to draw nutrients from the soil or an epiphytic bromeliad soaking in decomposed debris through its leaves and central cup, in their natural environments, bromeliads are able to gather a variety of nutrients that help them grow, flower, and reproduce.

Indoors, it’s difficult to reproduce a bromeliad’s exact environment; we likely won’t find frogs in our living rooms or offices laying eggs in our bromeliad plants’ central cups. So, fertilizer is the best way to provide indoor bromeliads with the nutrients they need to grow.

Different fertilizers contain various ratios of phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium. It’s important to select one with a ratio that will benefit the type of plant you will be fertilizing.

Additionally, fertilizers come in different forms: liquid, powders, and granular fertilizers. Liquid fertilizers are water-soluble and usually the most appropriate type for bromeliad plants. Powders are applied to the soil and then watered to soak in. Granular fertilizers are applied to the top of the soil and release nutrients slowly over an entire growing season. Granular fertilizers are recommended for species of terrestrial bromeliad plants.

Signs Your Bromeliad Plant Lacks Nutrients and Needs Feeding

If your indoor bromeliad is lacking micronutrients, it will likely begin producing weak foliage that looks small and pale. You might notice that your plant’s leaves appear yellowish in color and have dark-looking veins.

After feeding a hungry bromeliad plant, its leaves should start to return to their normal color after a day or two, and new foliage will grow healthy and strong.

Do All Bromeliad Plants Need Fertilizing?

Do All Bromeliad Plants Need Fertilizing

Most bromeliad plants are actually slow growers with very light feeding requirements. As a result, you can probably get away without fertilizing your bromeliad plants and never know the difference.

However, species belonging to the Aechmea (urn plants), Tillandsia (air plants), Cryptanthus (earth stars), and Neoregelia (blushing bromeliads) genera will benefit from regular fertilization to enhance their foliage and/or blooms.

How Often Should You Fertilize Bromeliad Plants?

Bromeliad plants should only be given fertilizer during the active growing season (spring and summer). Fertilizing a bromeliad during its dormancy period can burn the plant’s leaves and/or root system.

During the growing season, most bromeliad plants can be fed monthly. However, bromeliad species of the Neoregelia genus should only be fed once every other month.

Key Considerations for Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants

Key Considerations for Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants

When feeding a bromeliad, it’s important to remember that they are slow-growing and only require a small amount of nutrients during the active growing season. Due to their minimal nutrient needs, it can be easy to over-fertilize bromeliad plants.

Over-Feeding: What Happens When a Bromeliad Gets Too Much Fertilizer?

Too much fertilizer will burn a bromeliad plant’s leaves and/or roots, depending on where or how the fertilizer is being applied.

Bromeliad plants with too many nutrients will have very dark-green, lush-looking foliage. However, don’t let the lushness fool you. These plants will begin to show signs of distress with brown spots on the leaves and unnaturally curling leaves.

To flush excess fertilizer salts, water your plant with lots of filtered, room-temperature water and allow it to drain completely. Empty the plant’s central cup and wipe down its leaves with a damp cloth.

What Happens If You Use the Wrong Fertilizer on a Bromeliad?

The effect of using the incorrect fertilizer on a bromeliad plant depends on what kind of wrong fertilizer you use. Some are harmless and will simply result in your plant only taking up the nutrients it needs and leaving the rest behind.

However, applying the wrong kind of fertilizer on a bromeliad can also potentially affect its ability to bloom. Using a fertilizer that has too much nitrogen will suppress a bromeliad plant’s ability to bud and produce flowers.


The Best Fertilizer for Bromeliad Plants

The Best Fertilizer for Bromeliad Plants

Bromeliads don’t require a lot of nutrients, but they can benefit from monthly or every other month feedings during the growing season.

The Best Fertilizer Solution for Bromeliad Plants

When choosing a fertilizer for your bromeliad, look for an option that has a low nitrogen content that’s also liquid or water-soluble so you’ll be able to dilute it to 1/4 strength.

On a fertilizer package, you’ll see three numbers like 10-10-10. These numbers respectively indicate the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in a solution. So, look for a fertilizer with a comparatively low amount of nitrogen, rather than a balanced fertilizer.

If you must use a balanced fertilizer, dilute it even further so that your bromeliad plant’s flowers will not be negatively impacted by the excess nitrogen.

Ready-to-Go Bromeliad Fertilizer Options

What’s great is there are countless fertilizers available that are pre-formulated to provide the best mix of nutrients to a variety of bromeliad genera. A quick search will reveal formulations and fertilizer types designed to meet the needs of air plants, urn plants, and more.

Making Bromeliad Fertilizer at Home

If you compost your food waste, you can use your compost tea diluted to 1/2-strength to feed bromeliad plants.

Research the Bromeliad Species Before Feeding

When in doubt about what, when, and how to feed your bromeliad, you’ll get the best results if you take the time to look up your bromeliad’s species to find out whether it has any specific fertilizer and feeding preferences that set it apart from the thousands of other plants in the Bromeliad family.


Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants FAQ: 

Bromeliad plants will benefit from light fertilizing to help keep them healthy and produce lush flowers and foliage. Since bromeliad plants are relatively slow-growing they don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but they will suffer if you leave them without nutrients.

Fertilize your Bromeliad plant once per month only from April through to September each year.

Bromeliad plants aren’t generally considered heavy feeders. Species belonging to the Aechmea (urn plants), Tillandsia (air plants), Cryptanthus (earth stars), and Neoregelia (blushing bromeliads) genera will benefit from regular fertilization to enhance their foliage and/or blooms

Bromeliad plants should be fed with a balanced fertilizer comprising nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium components in either liquid or solid form.

Over-fertilizing a bromeliad plant will typically result in signs of burning across the plant’s leaves and/or roots, depending on where or how the fertilizer is being applied.

Bromeliad plants with too many nutrients will have very dark-green, lush-looking foliage. However, don’t let the lushness fool you. These plants will begin to show signs of distress with brown spots on the leaves and unnaturally curling leaves.


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Author

I’ve long been fascinated with the world of flowers, plants, and floral design. I come from a family of horticulturists and growers and spent much of my childhood in amongst the fields of flowering blooms and greenhouses filled with tropical plants, cacti, and succulents from all over the world. Today, my passion has led me to further explore the world of horticulture, botany, and floristry and I'm always excited to meet and collaborate with fellow enthusiasts and professionals from across the globe.

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