Bromeliads make up on of the most diverse and unique families of plants, with 75 genera and nearly 4,000 species, almost all native to the tropical Americas. The family is made up of both Epiphytes and Terrestrial species, including Tillandsia (see their unique care guide here), tank Bromeliads and even Pineapples.
The Bromeliad family is unique in the way that they drink, and there are many different unique ways that different species do this.
Tillandsia take water in through their leaves, while many other Bromeliads store and absorb water in a 'tank' structure formed by the way their leaves overlap at the base of the plant. The best way to water a Bromeliad is to pour fresh water in the 'center cup'. If you were looking at most Bromeliads from above, there is a defined center cup that is formed because of the way the leaves grow in a rosette fashion. This area collects water and stores it, feeding the plant for weeks at a time. The excess water that does not fit in the cup, filters down through the leaves and waters the roots. In the wild tropics, rain water and condensation keeps this water fresh and prevents it from becoming stagnant and rotting the plant. In our homes, we must flush this water out, or change it once or twice a week. You can either dump the remaining water out in the sink and start fresh, or flush the older water out with clean, fresh water, to filter it down to the soil. Bottled, filtered, or even distilled water is usually best, to prevent too many chemicals or minerals from sitting inside the cup of the Bromeliad, leading to rot and dirty, stagnant water.
It is not necessary, and often times, recommended, to fertilize your Bromeliads. Fertilizers mix with water, and due to the nature of how Bromeliads drink, can end up burning the leaves or becoming very murky and disgusting, leading to rot and death.
A loose, well draining soil or soilless mix is ideal. A peat based mixture with lots of perlite, vermiculite or sand will do the trick. Adding perlite or vermiculite to a commercial pre-mixed Cactus soil with suffice just fine as well.
Because most Bromeliads do not have a significant root system, there is very little need to repot them. Most of their water is taken in from the plant itself, as opposed to the roots, so a visually smaller than normal is typically fine. When you do choose to repot, only go up 1 size and use either a commercial orchid mix, or a Cactus/Succulent mix with pebbles or super chunky Perlite mixed in.
Bromeliads are generally free of pests, however, from time to time, we will find that Scale will effect them. It is always best practice to isolate any new plants you bring in to your home for a few weeks to watch for little pests. If you were to find any, see our At Home Pest Recipes here.
Bromeliads are propagated by pups, or offspring, that the parent plant will produce on their own, generally after flowering. Roughly 50% of the time, the parent plant will die off after flowering, and use the energy and resources to produce 1-6 pups. These young plants will grow from the root level base of the parent plant and can be removed and transplanted once they are about 1/3 of the size of the parent plant. Propagation from seeds is also possible, however tedious and with very little success in most home environments.
If you have any more questions, or need further assistance, please feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email!