Bromeliads are a family of refreshingly low-maintenance houseplants offering many benefits and a big payoff in beauty and appeal. Most bromeliad plants are typically light feeders given the right indoor conditions and suitable temperature range. However, a small amount of fertilizer given at the correct times can enhance bromeliad foliage and flowers during the growing season. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about when and how to fertilize bromeliad plants at home.
- Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants — The Essentials
- The Role of Fertilizing in Bromeliad Plant Health and Growth
- Signs Your Bromeliad Plant Lacks Nutrients and Needs Feeding
- Do All Bromeliad Plants Need Fertilizing?
- How Often Should You Fertilize Bromeliad Plants?
- Key Considerations for Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants
- The Best Fertilizer for Bromeliad Plants
- Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants FAQs:
- Research the Bromeliad Species Before Feeding
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 during the active growing season. 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 for optimal growth and colorful foliage.
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 can gather a variety of nutrients that help them grow, flower, and reproduce.
Indoors, it isn’t easy 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. Selecting one with a balance will benefit the type of plant you will be fertilizing is essential.
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 lacks 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?
Most bromeliad plants are 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, the bromeliad species of the Neoregelia genus should only be fed once every other month.
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 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 fertilizer you use. Some are harmless and will result in your plant only taking up the nutrients it needs and leaving the rest behind.
However, applying the wrong kind of fertilizer to 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
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 with a low nitrogen content that’s also liquid or water-soluble so you can dilute it to 1/4 strength.
On a fertilizer package, you’ll see three numbers like 10-10-10. These numbers 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 the excess nitrogen will not negatively impact your bromeliad plant’s flowers.
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 various bromeliad genera. A quick search will reveal formulations and fertilizer types designed to meet the needs of air plants, urn plants, and more.
I’ve also had good results with Jack’s All Purple Houseplant Fertilizer (via Bloomscape).
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.
Fertilizing Bromeliad Plants FAQs:
Should I fertilize my Bromeliad plant?
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.
How often should you fertilize Bromeliad plants?
Fertilize your Bromeliad plant once per month only from April through to September each year.
Do all Bromeliad plant types need fertilizer?
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.
What should I feed my Bromeliad plant?
Bromeliad plants should be fed with a balanced fertilizer comprising nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium components in either liquid or solid form.
How do I know if I’ve over-fertilized my Bromeliad plant?
Over-fertilizing a bromeliad plant will typically result in signs of burning across the plant’s leaves and roots, depending on where or how the fertilizer is 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.
Research the Bromeliad Species Before Feeding
When in doubt about what, when, and how to fertilize 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 monthly during the growing season can help to ensure robust growth and vibrant, colorful foliage.
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
- Bromeliad Plant Light Requirements
- The Best Soil and Potting Mix for Bromeliad Plants
- How to Prune a Bromeliad Plant
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.