Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae) are native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Central and South America, especially Brazil and Paraguay. These plants can be found at heights varying from sea level to 4200 meters high, and anywhere from deserts to rain forests.
There are about 3000 different species, the best known being the pineapple. The pineapple is the only bromeliad that produces edible fruit. People have been using bromeliads for thousands of years. Incas, Aztecs, Mayas and many other native groups used them extensively for food, protection, fibers, and ceremonies.
In the eighteenth century commercial travelers from Belgium discovered the beauty of the bromeliad and took a few plants back to Europe. This was to be the start of the enormous range of bromeliads we have the choice of today.
This attractively colored houseplant flowers once only (often for three to six months), bringing long lasting color to the home. Plants will continue to grow by producing new offshoots or “pups” from the base of the flowering plant. The leaves vary greatly, from thin needles to wide and flat, symmetrical or irregular, pointed or soft. The leaves usually grow in a rosette. Some types, such as Tillandsia, are epiphytes and best grown in a basket or mounted on a stick.
Care When Flowering
Bromeliads are simple to maintain and are perfect for your home and office.
- Feed with 20-20-20 fertilizer at a rate of 1 gram per liter once a month.
- Do not let the soil dry out; evenly moist soil is ideal.
- Water the soil only. If you fill the cup (the center of the bromeliad) and let it flow over into the soil, this water must be changed every 2 days.
- Environments vary in each household or office, so lift the plant daily. The pot should feel heavy versus the rest of the plant. Water should not be dripping from the bottom, nor should it be sitting in an enclosed container holding water.
- Make sure that your bromeliad is planted in a pot with holes in the bottom, this allows for good drainage.
- If the plant seems to lose its luster, mist it with the same rate of fertilizer mentioned above (only the plant, not the flower).
Enjoy this wonderfully colorful tropical plant!
Bromeliads flower only once in a lifetime. Even thought the flower is gone, your bromeliad will continue to grow by following these easy steps.
- First, cut the stem off inside the cup (the center of the Bromeliad).
- After the flowering cycle, the mother plant will have offspring sprouting from the base which, at the proper time, will bloom. During this time, your bromeliad should receive more food. Use the same fertilizer at the same strength but with every watering.
- Bromeliads demand fresh air circulation, clean water (watch out for cold and over chlorinated tap water) and good diffused light.
Once an ‘offspring’ has sprouted from the main bromeliad, flowering will occur shortly after.
- Bromeliads can be forced to flower after one year of growth.
- To encourage flowering, drop a small slice of tomato, apple, or any fruit into the plant’s cup. The decomposition of this fruit will release ethylene gas and induce the flowering.
- If the plant is older, it will flower with the change of seasons.
- Feeding during this period must be increased. Use the same fertilizer at the same strength mentioned above, but with every watering.