This group of some 2,000 species ranging from pineapples to Spanish moss, provides us with some exciting and colorful indoor plants.
Typically, they produce wide rosettes of more or less leathery, strap-shaped leaves, often striped or patterned, and with a central Zone that becomes brightly colored at flowering time. Flower heads on stout stems, with numerous small flowers, are borne between long-lasting colorful bracts. There are two types of bromeliads, epiphytic and terrestrial. In the wild, epiphytic plants grow on trees or rocks.
They have small, weak root systems, and they obtain much of their nourishment from the air and from the detritus that collects within their leaves. Some of the most beautiful of the epiphytic bromeliads, such as Aechmeafasciata, the urn plant, are easy to grow.
It is ’ typical of most bromeliads in having a water-holding vessel formed by the bases of the leaves. Air plants, Tillandsia spp., are epiphytic bromeliads that live by absorbing water from the atmosphere and trapping dust particles between the tiny scales on their foliage. Among the terrestrial types—those that live in the ground— are Cryptanthus, Dyckia, Nidularium, Neoregelia, and one of the most widely seen genera, Ananas, the pineapple, several species of which make good houseplants.
Cryptahus bivittatus is another terrestrial grows in the ground and thrives in terrariums. An upright rosette of glossy forms a rosette of 2-3ifo5-8cm-long leaves, light green leaves about 12in/30cm high. The spiny edges which are striped dark green flower spike has white flowers, up to 2in/5cm and in strong light become tinged with pink.
ORIGIN Southern US to Tropical America; Africa.
POTTING MIX Equal parts of peat moss and peat-moss-based mix, with some fresh sphagnum moss. Good drainage is essential.
REPOTTING Every 2 years. Since rooting systems are not extensive, fairly small pots are suitable.
PROPAGATION Remove good-sized offsets from the base of the plant in spring and pot them in rich, just- moist potting mix.
KEEPING PLANTS Make sure that neither the plant’s urn nor the soil is allowed to dry out. Put plants outside in summer, particularly in mild climates, since they love the rain.
BROMELIADS PLANT CARE Tips
- These are tolerant plants, which can take either direct or subdued sunlight.
- Average room temperature is suitable for growth, with a minimum winter temperature of 55°F/13°C. A temperature of about 75°F/24°C is needed for flowering.
- Water twice a week with tepid rainwater or soft water.
- Do not overwater bromeliads, although the vessel, or urn, which is the plant’s growing point, must be kept full of water at all times.
- Mist the leaves with weak liquid fertilizer occasionally in spring and summer.
BROMELIADS AIR PLANTS
Most of these types of epiphytic bromeliads should not be planted in soil, since this would rot the small roots, which are used more for support than for feeding the plant. Instead, wrap the bottom of the plant and any roots in sphagnum moss and wire the plant to a piece of wood or cork. Hang the plant up and spray the moss and leaves twice a day year-round to keep them moist. Tillandsia spp. and Neoregelia tristis do well grown this way.
PESTS & DISEASES BROMELIADS
Bromeliads may be attacked by aphids, scale insects, and red spider mites. Check regularly for these pests and spray with insecticide; remove scale insects by hand.