Bromeliad Culture

TYPES OF BROMELIADS:There are more than 2500 species of Bromeliads - all but one native to the Americas. Many grow as epiphytes in the wild, using trees for support.

WATERING: Do not over water. Keep the cup or vase (if there is one) in the center of the plant filled with water. This water should be at room temperature and should run down between the leaves to keep the roots damp. This flushing out should be done once a week to keep the water fresh. Plants mounted on plaques should be misted often, particularly if the humidity is low (50 ->60%), or if the plant is inside a dry house. Soft leafed plants require more water than stiff leafed ones.

LIGHT: Bright, diffused light is needed by most bromeliads. Hard, spiny, thick-leafed plants, as well as those with gray-green or silvery leaves can take bright sun for long periods. Plants with soft, thin leaves such as guzmania require diffused light or bright shade. They can be easily sunburned and may acquire secondary infections if subjected to long periods of hot Florida sun. Nidulariums require the least light, Neoregelias the most. The intense red seen in the leaves of many bromeliads requires sun to be maintained. Ex. neoregelia)

FERTILIZING: Feeding should, in general, be scant and seldom. If fed once a month, the plant food should be diluted to about ¼ to 1/6 the recommended strength. Vrieseas like plant food, and can be fed a bit more often. Never place dry plant food in the cup. A slow release food, such as Osmocote placed on the soil - about ¼ teaspoon every 3-4 months works well. Bromeliads planted outdoors may not require fertilizer.

TEMPERATURE: Between 50° and 90° F. They are not cold hardy. The thick leafed varieties will tolerate heat up to 100° . High humidity and good air circulation are important to the good health of bromeliads. Mist often if humidity is low.

INSECTS AND DISEASE: If mealy bugs or scale should appear - Use Safer's Insecticidal Soap- preferably outside the home early in the morning or the evening to prevent burn. Diseases are not usually a problem.

BLOOMING: Most bromeliads bloom only once in their lifetime. The inflorescence on most plant lasts several months - some only a few days. Those plants requiring less light will bloom more willingly in the house. After a plant has bloomed, it will die slowly over the next year, but it will replace itself by producing offsets or pups - small new plants around itself. Thus the owner will find that he now has several plants in place of the original. One can either leave the pups with the mother plant, or eventually remove them to be planted individually. Sharp scissors, clippers, or in some cases, just carefully breaking the pup away from the parent is enough to separate them. The young plant should be about 2/3 the size of the mother plant when it is removed. The mother plant, particularly if aided with a little dilute fertilizer, will continue to produce more pups until it dies. Dipping the removed pup into Rootone before potting is a help in preventing fungus.