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Increase Life Expectancy Of Bromeliads With Effective Watering



Increase Life Expectancy Of Bromeliads With Effective Watering

It’s true that bromeliads have stunning vibrant foliage and flowers. Did you know you can increase the life expectancy of bromeliads with effective watering?

Bromeliads come from areas which have tropical climates. Therefore, even though they like humidity, they are very resistant to droughts. Because of this, they do not require much water at all to keep them flourishing.

Bromeliads is a collective name for more than 3,590 plants in the Bromeliaceae family. Yes, that’s the same family the pineapple belongs to. They are also known as “air plants” since they do not have the complex root system that is required to dig down deep into the soil to tap into nutrients.

Bromeliads are epiphytic and in the wild, cling to trees, rocks, shells and other structures with the help of long tough root-like structures. That doesn’t mean they are parasitic; they only rely on other plants for a solid foundation. However, they derive their nutrients from air, water, rainwater, and the natural debris in the air, thanks to their aerial roots.

Additionally, some bromeliad varieties are also terrestrial, which mean they can be grown in light soil. They also produce seeds unlike the epiphytic varieties.

Appearance of Bromeliads

Appearance of Bromeliads

Bromeliads are prized as ornamental plants and are frequently grown indoors. At the beginning of their life cycle, their foliage, which grows into a natural rosette, can range from green to silver color. The wide leaves of the plant are sword-shaped with a bit of a scoop and grow around a central cup. This cup collects water in the natural habitat.

As the plant matures, its foliage can turn into gorgeous fiery red and purple colors and it may produce a flower. Depending on the species, the form and color of the flower can vary.

Life Cycle of Bromeliads

Bromeliads go out in a blaze of glory.

Bromeliads are slow-growing plants. The pineapple, the most well-known bromeliad, can take anywhere between 18 months to 36 months from propagation and fruiting, so the average life cycle is 24 months. The flowering guzmania has a similar life span at two or three years. Some bromeliads may take five years to attain maturity and produce a flower.

Unfortunately, though, a bromeliad only blooms once in its life. Although it may seem like a raw deal if you have bought the plant for its flowers, the vibrant blooms can actually last for 3 to 6 months, or even a whole year. Once the flower stops blooming, it means its pups or suckers are ready to come out.

Bromeliads produce through vegetative growth. A healthy plant will, instead of seeds, send offshoots or suckers known as pups. These shoots continue to grow as the parent plant dies. Once the pup is about the size of the parent plant, these shoots detach and can grow into an independent plant.

Watering Needs of Bromeliads

Bromeliads come from areas which have tropical climates. Therefore, even though they like humidity, they are very resistant to droughts. Because of this, they do not require much water at all to keep them flourishing.

Depending on the variety of bromeliads, you may need to water them every one or two weeks or even once every month.

Bromeliads take in moisture through the air so only water them if the potting soil is dry to the touch. Make sure their roots are soaked but do not swamp them in water. If water pools on top of the soil, this means you have watered too much and you need to take out the excess water. Letting the plant sit in water can cause rot and bacterial infections.

Air bromeliads which have aerial roots need to be misted every week or so when the temperatures are drier and hotter than normal.

Some bromeliads are called tank bromeliads since they have a central cup, tank or vase that holds water. If you are growing the plant indoors, it is not necessary to keep the cup filled. However, if the temperature and light conditions are high enough, you can fill it with water. In general though, it is more than enough to water these plants once or twice a week in the summer season and reduce watering during the resting winter period.

If you do opt to fill the cup, make sure you flush out the water every now and then to prevent build up of salt. Let the tank dry for about 2 to 7 days, depending on the conditions, before you decide to fill it again.

In cooler and low light conditions, you might want to consider keeping the water cup dry, otherwise it can result in rot.

If rain comes your way, set your plant outside. The rainwater cleans out the foliages, and flushes the cup. Bring them back inside before the full intense summer sun hits them.

Overwatering Is a Deadly Mistake

One of the most common mistakes when watering bromeliads is overwatering. Just because the plants are tropical does not mean they require water all the time. Bromeliads love humid conditions but since the roots of most bromeliads act more as an anchor than a structure to take in nutrients, the plant should not be swamped in water.

If the root structure remains wet all the time, it will rot or become infested with bacterial, leading to plant death. To prevent this, make sure you let the soil in your pot dry out before watering it again. Even if the top soil appears dry, it may have water retained in the bottom. To check this, stick your finger a few inches into the dirt to see if the plant is dry or not. If you still are not certain, wait for a day or two.

When it comes to bromeliads, under watering is better than overwatering. Bromeliads can resist drought conditions and though they may not grow as well, they are less likely to die of drought than rotting.

Use Only Filtered Water for Bromeliads

Bromeliads are very susceptible to salts and minerals in regular tap water. Hard water can result in an accumulation of deposits in the central cup or the base of the plant. This deposit can harm the leaves and make them vulnerable to disease.

Therefore, it is important that water in the central cup should be regularly flushed to avoid a buildup of salts. You can also consider using distilled water or rain water to irrigate the plant. This will prevent any deposits from forming and injuring the plant, shortening its life span.


Bromeliads are very resistant to high temperature, but also take note that hotter temperatures will require more humidity. The ideal temperature in which bromeliads thrive is between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants are not suited for temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Soil and Potting

Most bromeliads do not have a strong root system and hence do not need a lot of soil to grow. Both epiphytic and terrestrial bromeliads, however, can grow in small pots with light soil that drains fast. Porous soil allows water to go in deep but does not allow saturation.

Choosing soil that has a mix of bark, vermiculite, and perlite can help with drainage and aeration.

Some bromeliads can also be attached to logs or wooden structures. These bromeliads will need to be watered a bit more frequently than those planted in soils.

Fertilizers are not necessary, though if you want, you can use a liquid fertilizer at one-third strength during the growing season.


Since bromeliads come in a wide variety, they have different levels of tolerance to the light. Some varieties can withstand the full heat of the sun while others will scorch in a tropical sun. In general though, these plants grow well in well-lit window-sills indoors but not direct sunlight.

If the foliage appears yellow, they may be receiving too much sunlight. If the leaves are very dark green and appear long, they may be receiving too little light.

Bromeliads Are Not All the Same

Bromeliads Are Not All the Same

There are 75 different genera of bromeliads and although many of the species are quite similar, some of them have unique characteristics that have evolved so that the plant could survive in their natural habitat.

All bromeliads are native to warmer climates. Some thrive in arid climate while other need humid conditions. For example, Cryptanthus, also known as Earth Stars, thrive in humid conditions and so you should keep them moist, unlike other types of bromeliads.

Some bromeliads grow the best on forest floors while other cling to trees. To make sure you take the best care of your bromeliad, you should have the answer to a few questions before you buy this plant.

Should the plant be potted or anchored to structures? Does it like dry climates or humidity? How much water does it need with how much frequency? How much light does it need to thrive? What can you expect in terms of its size. How big will the plant get? How long will it take to fully mature? Getting the answers to all these questions can help you take the best care of your bromeliad.

Bottom Line

Bromeliads, as you can see, are not at all high-maintenance. They do not require much soil and even less fertilizers. The only thing you need to be the most careful about is how much you should water them.

Beginner gardeners should try their hands at growing bromeliads as slight mistakes will not harm the plant. These plants are very hardy and if they do show symptoms of problems, you can easily remedy them and save your plant.

The earlier you discover the problem and fix it, the easier will it be for your bromeliad to recover and live a longer life.

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