Growing Bromeliad

Latin Name Pronunciation: broh-mee'lee-ad

Bromeliads are slow-growing, tropical plants adapted to low levels of light and nutrients. Many live as epiphytes on trees in rainforests and depend on rain and mists for all their moisture.

LIGHT: Place your plant where it will receive bright, indirect light. A location that is near, but not in, a south-facing window is fine. Direct sunlight on the leaves can burn them.

WATER: Always check your plant first to see if it needs watering, as too much water can cause rotting. When the potting mix feels dry, it is time to water. When watering, pour about ½ cup of water directly onto the potting mix and another ½ cup of water into the center of the plant, where it will be absorbed by the bases of the leaves. Proper drainage is important -- do not let your plant sit in water. If water remains in the saucer, empty it out. Don't let water accumulate in the center of the leaves, either -- prolonged pools of water there can cause rot. Also, do not use a metal watering can or container to water your Bromeliad as metals are toxic to them.

FERTILIZER: Fertilizing is not necessary, but you can use a balanced houseplant formula just three or four times a year, at ½ the strength recommended by the manufacturer.

HUMIDITY: Bromeliads appreciate moist air. They suffer in the dry air produced by furnaces and woodstoves. You can increase the humidity around your plants by running a humidifier nearby. You can also set plants in trays filled with pebbles or gravel. Add water to a level just below the tops of the pebbles (if the potting mix in the pots comes in contact with the water, the mix will draw water into the pot, which will cause the mix to become saturated, eventually leading to rot). Refill trays frequently to replace water lost through evaporation.

TEMPERATURE: A temperature range from 55° to 85°F is fine year round.

FLOWERING: The flower stalks of Bromeliads last for several months. The plant will not bloom again, but can produce a new, smaller plant (called a "pup") at its base. Once the pup is large enough, it can bloom.

GROOMING: Once the flower stalk is no longer colorful, carefully cut it off at the base using pruning shears or a sharp knife.

REPOTTING: Bromeliads have a relatively small root system and can live in the same pot for a long time.