Taming the Wild Bromeliad
The exotic Bromeliad can be hypnotic with its bold and brash colours, straight from the jungle. But all of that tropical style can also make it appear intimidating to take home and care for. Will it expect piña-coladas and suntanning on the beach every afternoon? Do you have to learn how to hula dance?
The Bromeliad actually enjoys the simple life, and is very easy to care for! With a few tricks and tips you can easily keep your plant happy and healthy, even if you don't live in Hawaii!
Just Hanging Around
Bromeliads are what we call “epiphytic” which means that in the jungle they use their roots mainly to cling to trees, rather than absorb water. This way they can grow closer to the sun, rather than hidden deep in the shadows of the forest floor. They have a cup shape in the centre of their leaves which they use to catch rainwater and moisture.
Luckily Bromeliads can be much more civilized when they are in your home, which is why they are mainly planted in pots and can be hand watered, by filling their inner cup. Because their roots aren’t their main source of water, they like them to be able to dry out between waterings, and can easily die from root rot if you get a bit too exuberant.
Although they don’t mind tap water, you may find your Bromeliad thrives better when you use filtered water. (This can help with some common complaints about these plants such as poor growth or brown tips on leaves.)
Catching Those Rays
Give your plant medium to bright light, near a window. They're used to tropical sunshine, but they do hang out under dappled tree leaves in the wild. Speaking of the tropics, they love the humidity that comes with all that sunshine, so don’t be afraid to mist them often! Even leaving a tray of rocks out, filled with water to evaporate, can help them feel more at home.
Bromeliads are known for the gorgeous and brightly coloured leaves which come out of the crown of the plant. This is called their “bract” and when they grow flowers, which are smaller and less showy, the flowers grow out of the bract. It takes at least 2 years for a Bromeliad to reach a mature age and bloom. Unfortunately most plants only bloom once in their lifetime and then begin to die.
Leaving a Legacy
Before your Bromeliad passes on, it will usually give you babies (called ‘pups’). These grow off of the main stem of your mother plant, snuggling against them. When the babies get to be between 3-6 inches you can remove them and plant them in their own pots. In order to do this you pull them off, cutting through the bottom piece that is attached to the mother’s roots. Then carefully plant them in their own soil. The pup won't have a root system yet, so it will need to be stabilized with sticks or rocks in order to stay upright until it grows up a little bit. Be patient, they can take a while to start sprouting up and growing longer leaves.
Enjoy having a tropical house guest and don't stress yourself out. With just a few handy tips your plant will brighten up your home and keep you living La Vida Loca! Remember, most Bromeliads only have a 3-4 year lifespan, so enjoy every moment!