Bromeliads: How to grow and care for Bromeliad Plants?

Bromeliads also called Guzmanias will grow in conditions similar to the ones required for orchids. In nature, they grow under the canopies of other large trees where it is bright but the direct sun is limited. Majority of bromeliads are epiphytes. Almost all bromeliads are native to tropical climates. Their original habitat is humid and they grow on shady forest floors or attached to trees. This means bromeliads are adapted for warm, wet, shady climates.

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Bromeliads also make great indoor plants. They have a few needs and very few problems. With the right care, you can enjoy bromeliads in your home or office all year around.

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The Coloured tips/rosettes seen on the top of the leaves are not flowers, they are called bracts. These brightly coloured bracts look very attractive on the plants.  The brightly coloured leaves that are often mistaken for flowers are actually called bracts, a leaf-like structure from which an inflorescence may grow. A bromeliad grows by added new leaves to the center of the plant. At some point, the center will become crowded and new leaves will no longer have room to form. At this point, the bromeliad will focus its energy on producing new growths called pups, also known as offsets.

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A bromeliad can experience leaf burn if exposed to too much direct light. Different varieties have different tolerances for exposure to the sun. Do not over water the medium and keep the medium soggy. Bromeliads are adapted to withstand drought but are much less tolerant of being over-watered which can cause root rot. It is important that your bromeliad is planted in a medium that allows for fast drainage. Every time you water the potting medium, water it well so that the water flows out from the drain holes. This will remove any salt build up in the potting media. Don’t water the bromeliad again until at least the top two inches of potting media are dry. Most bromeliads also have a tank. This is the part of the plant where the leaves meet together and form what looks like a cup. Bromeliads also take in water through their central tank. Fill the tank with water, preferably rainwater, Be sure to flush out the tank/cup every month as bacteria can collect in the dirty water.

Bromeliads love rich, organic matter in their soil but they must have excellent drainage. Bromeliads have a small root system so you don’t have to worry about repotting them too often. Every 4-5 years is just fine & you only need to go up 1 or 2 pot sizes.

Never place fertilizer in a bromeliads central tank. Instead, fertilize around the bromeliad’s base. Bromeliads require little fertilizing. Very rarely use water-soluble fertilizer. Spray the dilutes fertilizer water over your plant. Many people try to encourage faster growth with the use of fertilizer. But because bromeliads are slow growing plants, too much fertilizer can cause the leaves to become thin and the vibrant colours of the bracts will start to disappear. Most bromeliads flower only once in their lifetime.

Note: It is important to never use a metal container to water a bromeliad. Bromeliads are very sensitive to metal and the results could be devastating to your plant.

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