Bromeliads are one of the diverse plant groups, taxonomically classified under the family Bromeliaceae. It is a large family, comprising 51 genera and more than 2000 species. In the natural habitat, you will find bromeliad species growing in tree trunks as epiphytes and also, in the ground. They are perfect houseplants that adapt well to warm indoor conditions. They are characterized by vibrant colored and long-lasting inflorescence, while some varieties have attractive foliage as well.
If you don't have a single bromeliad blooming in the garden, you are missing an unusual plant that can brighten up your landscape design. Unlike regular flowering plants, they have the ability to adapt in unfavorable conditions. The only concern with them is their susceptibility to frosting. So, while planting them outdoors, make sure you protect them from frost or cold climatic conditions.
As bromeliads are well adapted to indoors and outdoors, the plantation site is not a concern. One of the interesting facts is the center cup or vase like structure present in non-epiphytic varieties. This cup, formed by a rosette of colorful, broad leaves, is used as a water storing adaptation in the natural habitat.
Bromeliads have shallow roots that serve as an anchoring system, rather than for absorbing water and nutrients. Considering this, you can grow a bromeliad houseplant in small plastic or clay pots, while making sure that the roots are alive and healthy. You can opt for plastic containers that retain water for a longer time.
Soil or Potting Media
Bromeliads require fertile, sandy and well drained soils for healthy growth. Hence, while preparing garden soil, add 2 - 3 inch of organic matter in the planting bed and adequate amounts of sand (if required) to ensure proper drainage. To prepare potting media, mix equal parts of peat, bark, and coarse sand (or perlite).
Ideal Lighting and Temperature
Bromeliads prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Accordingly, you can plant them in shady areas in your garden or near windows (having blinds). Nevertheless, they can tolerate a very low light for long hours. An ideal way is to give the bromeliad bright sunlight for a few hours, once in 2 - 3 days. As far as temperature is concerned, the preferred range is 55 - 85° F, though some species can tolerate up to 100° F.
For epiphytic bromeliad species, average humidity of 40 - 60 percent is necessary. This is because they absorb water from the surroundings through their scaly leaves. Also, they lack the water storing cup-like structure. In case the humidity level in your room is below 40 percent, consider using a room humidifier.
Bromeliads are tolerant to prolonged dry spells. In fact, most problems with bromeliads are related to root rotting and disease infestation, which are developed due to overwatering. What you can do is leave the top soil layer for drying between two watering sessions. In most cases, watering once or twice a week is sufficient.
You can apply regular houseplant liquid fertilizer at a much reduced concentration every 1 - 2 months. Established plants respond well to light feeding in the active growing season and before blooming. During cold winter months, adding fertilizers is not at all necessary.
Based on the types you have selected, care tips should be followed properly. After blooming is over, the plant produces bromeliad pups at the base. As the mother plant dies, you can transplant the new plants in pots or garden soil.