Bromeliad Care: Complete Guide To Growing Bromeliads

Bromeliads, with their rigid and often colorful rosettes combined with futuristic looking flowers, are one of the more fascinating houseplants. Bromeliads need to mimic their native climate range and weather. Their care also hinges upon how the plant gathers moisture and nutrients in the wild. Care for bromeliad plants is not difficult, but the epiphytic varieties need slightly different care than the terrestrial types. Epiphytic types in nature cling to trees or other structures. They are not parasitic but simply use the structures as perches from which to gather sun and moisture.

Quick Facts:

  • Botanical name-Bromeliad
  • Height- 2 inches to 4 feet (5.08 cm.- .35 m)
  • Spread- Similar
  • Sun exposure- Diffuse light
  • Soil requirements- Well draining
  • Hardiness zones- USDA 10-11
  • When to plant- Spring

Bromeliad Care

Most, but not all bromeliads are epiphytic, which means they do not live in soil, but instead live on trees or even grow in rocky cracks. Most feature a rosette form of strappy, thick leaves which form a central “tank” or cup. In the wild, this cupped area will collect any dew or rainfall. Since the plant does not root in soil like others, it must gather nutrients and water from the air. Bromeliad plant care in the home needs to mimic this method of delivering moisture and nutrients to the plant.


Bromeliad plants hail from a variety of different ecosystems, so each species requires lighting similar to its native range. However, on average, the plants need bright, diffused light. Better lighting equals better color in the flowers and foliage, but the plants do not like blazing full sun. Gentle, but high levels of light will keep the plant happy. Too much light and the leaves will get stumpy, while too little will make them elongate and become floppy. Plants with thick, leathery leaves tolerate the most light, while the more pliable-leaved varieties need more diffuse light.


You can water a bromeliad either from the base into the soil and roots, or directly into the cupped leaves. However you choose to water it, keep the plant moderately moist, but not soggy. If you water into the cupped rosettes, keep just enough in the depressions and allow it to disappear for a day or 2 before filling it up again. When watering the soil, let the soil dry out for a day or 2 before adding more moisture. The ideal pH for the water would be 4.0-7.0. Any water that collects in the pot should be emptied out weekly to remove debris and dead insects that stagnant water tends to lure into the cup.


Warm temperatures between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit (15.56-30 C) are optimal, but they tolerate typical indoor temperatures. Bromeliads are not frost-tolerant, but they can be grown outside in frost-free zones. These epiphytes need fairly high humidity.  Misting the leaves daily or placing the container on a saucer filled with rock and water will help increase the ambient moisture. Make sure the roots are not submerged in the water to avoid inviting rot.


Learning how to care for bromeliad plants starts with the soil. The plants have short, fleshy root systems and cannot tolerate any standing water or they will rot. A loose, well-draining soil is perfect. To make your own, mix equal parts peat, bark, and coarse sand. They do even better in shallow pots and may grow in low soil mediums such as orchid mix, a blend of bark, sphagnum moss and other organic amendments.


Bromeliad plants rarely need fertilizing. Re-potting every 2 years will refresh the soil and allow the plant to draw nutrients from its medium. Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted by half once per month from spring until early fall during the plant’s growing season. 

How to Make Bromeliads Bloom

A flowering bromeliad is irresistible. The bright colors and alien shape of the bloom provide an artistic form that rivals many other plants. Best of all, the flower lasts for months, often still gorgeous and intact six months after blooming. After the flower has died, the original plant will produce offsets. Over time, the mother plant will die and the offsets can be divided off to become new plants and hopefully produce blooms. 


The parent plant will begin to slowly die after it flowers. Some gardeners say it is possible to get the original plant to bloom again if you place the entire plant in a plastic bag with a ripe apple. To try the apple method, remove all water from the tanks prior to placing the plant in the bag. Set the cut apple slice on the tank. Seal the bag and place it in a low light area for 7-10 days. In 6-14 weeks a flower should start to form. A better option may be to wait for the offsets to mature and hope they will bloom.

Repotting Bromeliads

Bromeliads only need repotting every 2-3 years. Use the same soil mixture as the plant was growing in originally. Bromeliads don’t mind being crowded and need a container only a bit wider than the plant. Make sure any new container has several drainage holes. 

How to Propagate Bromeliad Pups

Once pups or offsets are nearly half the size of the mother plant, carefully divide them away from the parent. A sharp, sterile knife may be used to tease away the base of the pup. Make sure to include its roots. The parent can be repotted into a small container not much bigger than its width. Pups with full root systems can also be potted into small containers with the same media mix in which the parent plant grew.

Bromeliad Types

  • Aechmea- Urn plant upright, vase-like form
  • Ananas- many produce edible fruit
  • Billbergia- Spiny edged leaves
  • Cryptanthus- Widely grown with 1000s of hybrids. Also known as Earthstars
  • Dyckia- Hardy, clumping plants with tall flower spikes
  • Guzmania- Most common houseplants
  • Neoregelia- Painted Fingernail. Bright markings on the leaves
  • Tillandsia – Small specimens also known as Air Plants

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