How to Water Bromeliads for Optimal Growth and Health

I only water my bromeliads when the top two inches of soil feel dry to the touch. In most indoor growing environments, this equates to watering every 7 to 14 days during the growing season and every 14 to 21 days during dormancy periods in the mid-winter months. Bromeliads can be watered via the soil, central cup, and by misting the plant’s leaves depending on the particular species. Note that these plants are sensitive to heavy metals present in many water sources. As such, it’s prudent to use rainwater, filtered, or distilled water if available.

How to Water a Bromeliad for Optimal Growth and Plant Health

What to Consider When Watering Bromeliad Plants

Bright red bromeliad plants in bloom

The Type of Bromeliad Plant

With nearly 3,600 Bromeliad species, watering recommendations vary widely between different genera and species within a single genus. Researching your bromeliad species will help you provide it with the right moisture conditions.

For example, many types of bromeliad plants from the Tillandsia genus (air plants) are not grown in any potting medium. They should be watered with a weekly misting and a thorough soak in filtered water every few weeks.

Terrestrial bromeliads (those that grow in the ground) prefer to take up water through the soil. Saxicolous bromeliads (those that grow among rocks) can be watered by moistening the soil or filling their cups. Epiphytes (those that grow on tree bark) can be watered in their central cups, through their potting medium (if in one), or by misting their leaves.

How to Water Bromeliad Plants

The way to water bromeliad plants differs depending on the type of bromeliad.

  • Epiphytes – Epiphytes can take in moisture and nutrients through both their roots and their leaves. You can water these bromeliad plants by moistening their soil, misting their leaves, or a combination of both.
  • Air Plants – Air plants only take in moisture and nutrients through special cells on their leaves. Mist air plants weekly (or more frequently in hot, dry conditions) and soak in water every one to two weeks.
  • Saxicolous – Like epiphytes, saxicolous bromeliads can draw in moisture through their roots and leaves. You can water these by moistening their soil, misting their leaves, or both.
  • Terrestrial – Terrestrial bromeliads rely on their roots for moisture and nutrients. Water these by moistening their soil.

When watering a bromeliad via its potting mix, thoroughly soak the soil and allow all of the excess moisture to drain through the bottom of the pot.

Additionally, bromeliads with central cups can be kept moist by keeping their cups filled with water. Be sure to change this water frequently to prevent bacterial growth.

When to Water

Pink and green low-growing bromeliad plants

Bromeliads are more likely to be damaged from overwatering than underwatering. Water your bromeliad when its potting mix is dry, almost dry, or when the top inch or two of soil feels dry to the touch. A moisture meter or soil probe can help you determine the exact moisture level in the soil for more accurate watering.

If your container is large or does not drain, it’s especially smart to add a moisture meter or soil probe to your plant’s pot to know exactly when it needs to be watered.

How Often Should I Water?

Generally, bromeliads need a thorough watering or soaking (air plants) every 7 to 14 days in the spring and summer and every 14 to 21 days in the fall and winter.

If watering via the bromeliad plant’s central cup, keep it continuously filled with water. Be sure to drain and replace the water every few days to prevent bacterial growth.

What Type of Water Is Best?

It’s best to water bromeliads with soft, filtered, or distilled water – never with tap water or hard well water.

Bromeliad plants are highly sensitive to heavy metals in water. They can burn the plant’s roots and leave mineral deposits on the plant’s leaves, blocking its ability to absorb moisture and nutrients through special cells.

Do Bromeliad Plants Need to Be Misted?

A person spraying a small bromeliad in a grow pot on a circular white table indoor s

Air plants can only take in moisture through special cells on their leaves, so they must be misted regularly and also soaked thoroughly to get enough moisture.

Other bromeliad plants have the same specialized, water-absorbing cells on their leaves and can benefit from regular misting. This is especially true in hot and dry conditions.

Environmental Considerations When Watering a Bromeliad:

Large bromeliad plants growing in a tropical greenhouse

Temperature and Humidity Considerations

Indoor temperature and humidity affect bromeliad watering schedules.

A bromeliad growing in a humid home with average indoor temperatures probably does not need its central cup constantly filled with water. It also won’t require watering as frequently. Bromeliads fare better in an arid or exceptionally warm indoor environment with full central cups and a more frequent watering schedule.

The Prevailing Light Conditions

Light conditions also affect the amount of water bromeliads need. Plants in bright or direct light will require more water than plants growing in lower light conditions.

The Season

Spring and summer are the active growing seasons for bromeliad plants. During this time of year, your plant needs more water. In the winter, plants will go dormant and require less water.

The Soil Mix

A bromeliad’s potting mix also affects its watering needs. A potting mix with a higher soil and porous bark content will retain more moisture than a primarily rocky or sandy mix. It’s easier to overwater bromeliads growing in a potting medium that retains more moisture.

Plant Size and Potting Container

Naturally, larger bromeliads need more water than smaller bromeliads.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the container size and type. If your plant has extra room or is in a container that doesn’t drain, you’ll need to be careful not to overwater your plants. Bromeliads are exceptionally susceptible to developing root rot from sitting in standing water or having overly soggy soil.

What to Do In Between Watering Cycles

To protect a bromeliad from overwatering, you can wait until its soil has dried completely or almost completely before watering. Monitor the moisture level with a moisture meter or by using your fingers to feel the top layers of soil.

If your plant’s leaves look vibrant, perky, and green, you’ll know it’s doing well.

How to Water Propagated Bromeliad Plants

Bromeliad pups are even more susceptible to overwatering, root rot, and stem rot than fully grown bromeliads. Follow the same guidelines for watering adult bromeliads. However, remember that bromeliad pups likely won’t take up as much water as a mature bromeliad plant.

Watering Bromeliad Plants After Repotting

After repotting a bromeliad plant, soak its soil thoroughly, ensuring all excess moisture is allowed to drain. Then continue following your previous watering schedule, checking that the plant’s new potting mix is dry or nearly dry before applying more moisture.

Overwatering and Underwatering Problems and Remedies

  • Overwatering – Your bromeliad’s leaves and stem might turn brown and soggy near the base and begin to fall off.
  • Underwatering – Brown, crisp, or curling leaf tips.

Adjust your watering schedule accordingly if you see signs of overwatering or underwatering.


Watering Bromeliad Plants FAQs:

How do I know if my Bromeliad needs water?

Leaves that start to curl, droop, or crisp up at the edges are common signs that your Bromeliad plant needs watering.

How much water should I give my Bromeliad?

Water liberally until you start to see water running through into the saucer underneath the pot. The exact volume will be dependent on the size of plant, type of bromeliad, and the potting container.

Should I mist my Bromeliad plant?

Bromeliad Air Plants only take in moisture and nutrients through special cells on their leaves so they must be misted regularly. Mist air plants weekly (or more frequently in hot, dry conditions) and soak in water every one to two weeks.

How do I know if my Bromeliad is healthy?

As with all house plants, the key is to find the right balance of light, water, feed, and temperature. Every home or office presents unique circumstances, so you’ll need to monitor and adjust to ensure your Bromeliad plant thrives. A happy, healthy Bromeliad will showcase vibrant colors and pigment in the foliage and flower, with strong healthy leaves and display steady growth.

Can plants recover from overwatering?

Plants can recover from overwatering if you’ve mitigated early and adjusted the watering cycles moving forward. Monitor closely over a two week period and observe for general signs of improvement in the plant’s overall health.

Perfectly Pretty Bromeliad Plants

With the right watering schedule and care, your indoor bromeliads will thrive and eventually bloom with flowers that can last for up to 6 months!

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