All about Bromeliads
Bromeliads represent a group of flowering plants that are known for adding tropical vibes to indoor spaces. Like other tropical plants, numerous species within the bromeliad family are epiphytic, meaning they grow on a plant's surface and derive their nutrients from the air, rain, and water. They also have a central cup at their base, formed by a rosette of long, stiff, spiny leaves.
In some regions where bromeliads are used as food, shelter, fibers, and ceremonies, it is named as a 'gift from the gods.' It also symbolizes 'protection,' referring to the green foliage that surrounds the beautiful colored part.
Different types of the Bromeliad
Bromeliads belong to the Bromeliaceae family and are a genus to more than 3000 known species, classified into 75 genera found in subtropical North America, Central America, and South America.
Origin of Bromeliads
Bromeliads originate from the Andes mountains and the jungles of Uruguay and can now be found in Central and South America. Some can be seen on the ground, while others grow as epiphytes.
They were probably developed in the Cretaceous period about 65 million years ago. Their fossil specimens state they're 30 million years old.
How to (generally) take care of the Bromeliad
Taking care of a bromeliad is quite different from taking care of your average houseplants. They need a unique set of conditions to bloom, but these requirements differ from genus to genus and even from species to species. Let's find out how one can take care of them:
Bearing the characteristics of epiphytes, bromeliads have a natural water reservoir. Additionally, its fleshy leaves store water that is enough to sustain them during droughts. In most bromeliads, the leaves are arranged so that their bases overlap, creating what looks like a cup.
Water the plant once every week by filling the cup with water. This is enough to quench the entire plant’s thirst. However, never allow the plant to sit in water for too long because it may result in root rot and build-up salts.
Bromeliad's growth is heavily affected by daylight, temperature, humidity, feeding, and soil, so it's best to put it in a place where you can assure that these factors are intact. Have a look at the following specifications regarding these factors:
- Sunlight exposure: Bromeliads plant adores light. Of course, natural light is advised, but artificial light can also be used to grow this plant. Bright, indirect light is ideal for its growth. You can place it in front of an east- or west-facing window or a few feet away from a south-facing window.
If the plant turns yellowish, it indicates too much light, while turning dark green or elongated is a sign that they're not getting enough light.
- Soil necessities: A fast-draining potting soil that holds moisture but drains well is ideal for a bromeliad plant. You can use a mixture of 2/3 peat-based soil and 1/3 sand, orchid mix, charcoal, or soilless potting mix for good health.
- Temperature requirements: Bromeliad is tolerant to temperature variations and can survive in household temperatures ranging from 15 °C to 26 °C. Make sure to keep them away from heating vents, air conditioners, doorway drafts, and cold window panes.
- Humidity preferences: Bromeliads prefer a high level of moisture because they use that for water storage. Using humidifiers and daily misting can help you maintain the humidity levels around 40% to 60%, which is ideal for this plant.
Easy does it with the feeding. They are slow-growing plants, so too much fertilizer can cause their leaves to become leggy and their vibrant colors to fade. It also builds up salts that can be fatal for your bromeliad.
Use a liquid fertilizer diluted at 1/8 or 1/4 strength every 3-4 weeks in the growing summer seasons. Avoid feeding the mature plants in dormant winter seasons or when the plant begins to bloom. Also, do not add fertilizer to the central cup.
Bromeliad is a splendid air-purifier. New research was conducted in the State University of New York regarding plants capable of absorbing VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The bromeliad plant got a gold star in this research and was proved to remove 80 percent of the pollutants in six of the eight VOCs tested.
Bromeliads are not considered poisonous to humans or animals. However, it's best to keep them away from the reach of children and individuals with latex sensitivities to avoid potential allergic reactions.
Propagating a Bromeliad Plant
Propagation of bromeliad is relatively easy. This can be done from pups or offshoots created by the mother plant. They copy themselves before they die, so pups can be easily removed and planted on their own. They can also be propagated from seed germination if one wishes to grow several bromeliads simultaneously.
Propagation from pups
One of the most amusing things about bromeliad is its ability to produce pups, which are the plant's babies. Some types form a brightly colored flower that dies after a few months, after which pups begin to form. Use a sharp knife to remove the pups and cut them away from the parent plant while taking a little amount of the parent with you as well.
Plant the pups in a container filled with a good moist peat mixture. Let the medium dry before allowing thorough watering. Although pups are old enough to live independently, they won't blossom until they are at least a year old or more.
Propagation a Bromeliad from seed
To commence this method, you must first collect the seed. Only a few bromeliads can self-pollinate; the rest depend on birds to do that. In some cases, you'll need to pollinate them yourself. You can also purchase it from a professional grower.
You can use disposable food containers or soda bottles for seed germination. Add a well-drained potting medium to it, say a mixture of half peat moss and half vermiculite or an orchid mix. With some patience, you will have many bromeliads nursed from its seeds.