In this article, we will be discussing the best bromeliads houseplants to grow in your home.
Bromeliads plants, or the pineapple family to give its less formal name, are exotic looking plants that bring tropical touches to your home. Bromeliads are not difficult to look after and they add vibrant colours where vibrant colours are needed the most- in the home.
They originate from the United States, South America and West Indies, where on their natural inhabitant they grow on trees, stumps and other woody plants.
The plants are prized for the colourful bracts they produce and not the insignificant flower that appear along with the bracts. It is a leafy plant, not a flowering plant. The bracts that you observe are not the flowers. They seem so but in fact, they are not.
One characteristic of all bromeliads are that the roots only grow on the surface of the container as it is shallow-rooted.
It tends to form a rosette of green leaves from which in the centre the colourful bracts are formed.
The biggest difference is that bromeliads can be divided into two groups: the rosette-forming ones and the non-rosette forming ones.
It is best to place the plants in bright, filtered sunlight in average to warm temperatures but no lower than 10 degree Celsius in winter.
Rosette forming bromeliads should be watered by placing water inside the cupped rosette, or ‘Urn’ as it is technically known, where the plant will take the water when it needs it. Any water that is not taken should be emptied every month as the water can become stale.
Like most houseplants, the compost should be kept moist in summer and only water in winter when the compost becomes dry to the touch. Misting the plant during summer is essential especially when it is hot.
HUMIDITY IS IMPORTANT
Humidity needs to be high in order for the plant to flourish. Nutrients are readily absorbed through the leaves of non-rosette forming plants, so it is best to feed at monthly intervals during the growing season with a foliage feed.
Rosette plants, on the other hand, can be fed with a general, well balanced liquid fertiliser mixed with rainwater during the growing season. As most bromeliads tend to be small plants, only growing up to 45cm in height so can be potted in quite small containers of diameter of 15cm or less.
Larger plants may need to be potted in larger diameter pots in order to stop the plants from flopping over all the place.
Most Bromeliads can be grown in media that does not require any humus. You can use orchid compost and you will have great success in using it. The best mix to use is one-third orchid compost, one-third perlite and one-third coir compost.
If you want to improve drainage you can add horticultural grit instead of perlite, or you can use a 50:50 mix of perlite and grit.
When touching the rosette be careful as they can be prickly, so it is advised to wear gloves when handling them.
PUPS ARE FREE PLANTS
Bromeliads tend to grow by adding new leaves to the rosette. At one point the centre will become too crowded and no room exists to form new leaves. At this stage, bromeliads will focus its energy on producing offsets, or ‘pups’ as they are known.
The bloom is produced on the bracts themselves, the leaf-like structures where the flowers grow. Bromeliads only flower once in their lifetime. This is the sad part as after flowering the flower dies and so does the bracts.
The good news is that the flowers last several months, but the bracts last even longer. Once it has gone beyond its best, it is time to cut the bract back to its rosette.
As it had spent all of its time in producing bloom and bracts, then its energy will be eventually spent and the mother plant will die. Do not worry as the offsets can be planted and your stock can be replenished. Old plants can produce offsets for two to three years before finally succumbing.
When the bromeliads start to produce these pups, it is best to let them grow to 10-15cm before transplanting them to the individual containers to allow them to grow on. It will take about one month before the pups will have fully roots, so do be patient.
Eventually, maybe over 3-4 years, the offset will produce a new bract, new flowers before dying and starting the life cycle once again.
These are the bromeliads that I recommend to be grown indoors:
AECHMEA CHANTINII (Amazonian Zebra Plant)
This 90cm tall bromeliad has a rosette of spiky green leaves that are banded silvery-grey. The multi-coloured flowers are held above these leaves. Unlike most bromeliads, it requires a firm growing media in a 13cm diameter pot. The best place to grow is in light shade in moderate-high humidity.
To water fill the central urn and ensure that it always has water present. Feed with a foliage feed during the summer months at the recommended feeding rate written on the manufacturer’s instructions.
AECHEMA FASCIATA (Urn Plant)
This bromeliad with funnel-shaped rosette of grey-green leaves that are silver-grey banding. From the centre, a cone-shaped head appears with small pink flowers that surround a pink bract. The flower die soon after but the leaves rain colour and make a stunning display. This plant grows up to 60cm in height.
This is one of the easiest Bromeliad to grow and need little attention. It also does not mind growing at lower temperature than normal, but it will not survival below temperatures.
Grow this plant in light shade and water via the urn in the central leaf rosette.
AECHMEA FULGENS (Coral Berry)
This bromeliad has a large green, broad leaves that are purplish below with whitish downy blooms. Stems appear that carry waxy purple flowers that are followed by long-lasting red berries. A short bromeliad that grow up to 38cm in height. With this plant, extra care must be taken, as the roots are not allowed to dry out.
This is why central heating in homes can cause damage unless the plant is misted. This includes winter, for the plant to be at its best use a foliage feed in summer.
The central rosettes or urn is not as watertight as other Aechmea. So it may be more difficult to keep the root moist. You must not give up, otherwise, the plant could die.
ANANAS BRACTEATUS ‘Striatus’ (Variegated Pineapple)
This bromeliad forms a rosette of spiky, creamed-margin, sword-shaped leaves. In the centre stem, small pineapple fruits appear, although the fruits are quite inedible. It is a tall plant that grows up to 90cm in height.
The pineapple plant prefers moderate temperatures and humidity, along with good levels of light. Does not like cold temperature or any draught. This plant has no central rosette, so watering is more problematic. You have to keep the compost moist nod you have to ensure that the compost is nearly dry before re-watering, especially so in water.
It does not like a chill at all, especially if it experience to long period of below-average temperature. It will do well if it is planted in normal houseplant compost with added horticultural grit.
ANANAS COMOSUS ‘Variegata’ (Variegated Pineapple)
This is the variegated form of the common commercial pineapple. It is similar to the A. bracateatus but the plant is much larger in spread, but not much so in height, where it grows up to 90cm tall.
The size that the plant can reach and its demand for warmth and humidity makes it only suitable when such conditions can be maintained. Saying this it can be kept in a 20cm diameter pot for long periods of time.
To do well it needs moderate heat and humidity, along with good levels of light. The plants need to be water generously but allow the compost to almost dry between watering during the growing season. Water sparingly in winter.
Of all bromeliads, Billbergia is the easiest one to grow and to bring into flower. Although the leaves are fairly attractive, they do not hold as much interest as the leaves of the other bromeliads. This is one plant that is grown for its flowers and not its leaves.
This plant forms clumps of long, grassy-like leaves, where stems topped with dropping pink flowers appear. Where it grows up to 45cm in height
This plant can survive considerable neglect and can also survive both watering level and temperature swings. Can even survive a light frost for short periods of time, as well as the compost going dry for short periods. To be at its best, water well in summer and sparingly in winter.
Grow best if the temperature is greater than 7 degrees Celsius in good light in winter but some shade in summer, with moderate humidity. You need to feed with liquid fertiliser once every month after flowering under autumn.
Look for alternatives such as B. pyramidalis that forms rosettes of pale green leaves and odd-looking flowers that arise from the centre, giving an appearance of flames rising above a forest.
Another Billbergia to grow is a hybrid Billbergia x windii, which comes from B. nutans. It had much larger pink flowers and very attractive grey foliage where it grows up to 40cm in height.
CRYPTANTHUS BEUCKERI (Marbled Spoon)
Unlike many other bromeliads, which grows in trees or rock these plants grows in the ground.
This bromeliad forms small rosettes of leaves that are marbled in various shades of green that are sometimes pink-tinted. On top of these leaves, small heads of white flowers appear. The flowers are not particularly impressive but they are instead grown for the attractive shape and colour of the leaves.
Not a difficult plant to grow as long as an open structure is generated in the growing media. Grow in moderate warmth, but not below 13 degree Celsius and in good, strong sunlight.
Not a big plants it only grows up to 35cm in height, where it prefers to grow in moderate humidity.
Water freely during the growing season via the central urn, much less so in winter. Just enough to prevent the compost from completely drying out.
Feed using a balanced fertiliser at half strength once per month when in active growth.
Look out for other varieties such as C. bromelioides ‘Tricolour’ (Earth Star) that unusually has leaves on slender stems, It has a spreading habit and along the length of the leaves, stripes green, yellow, lighter green, pink and white colours can be observed. It is a compact plant only reaching 30cm in height.
Another is C. fosterianus (Pheasant Leaf), which is a short bromeliad only growing up to 10cm in height. It forms a wide-spreading rosette of fleshy, waxy, toothed, dark bronze-grey leaves that are banded with silver-grey markings.
A final variety to look for is C. zonatus (Earth Star) which is similar to C. fosterianus but the leaves are green-brown and are much narrower. It also spread less and only reached a height of 10cm and therefore can be grown in smaller pots.
This is one bromeliad that is grown for its brightly coloured, showy flower heads and for its beautiful; structured leaves. Compared to other bromeliads it requires higher temperature and more humidity than most others.
The plants consists of a rosette of thick, dark, glossy, green leaves, and in late spring and summer, a flower spike is produced. It is the colourful bracts that surround the flowers that give the plant its charm.
This 30cm tall plant is the easiest Guzmania to grow and is almost the most attractive one. It has bracts that comes in shades of red, pink or orange, whilst the true flowers are white in colour. The flowers are not long-lasting but the bracts are.
Guzmania like constant high humidity and therefore will require misting every day. Watering is very important as the compost will need to be moist at all times. During summer you need to water freely in the urn of the plant via the rosette of leaves that is formed.
In summer it should be filled right up to the brim with water, whilst in winter half-full. It is best to water with rainwater.
Temperatures need to be greater than 16 degree Celsius, where the plants can be grown in bright, indirect light.
Not a hungry plant, so feed once in a while with a liquid fertiliser in spring and summer.
An attractive alternative is G. zahnii that has extremely thin yellow-green leaves with narrow stripes. It produces bracts of yellow leaves that can reach up to 50cm in length. It makes a stunning houseplant.
NEOREGELIA CAROLINAE ‘Tricolour’ (Stripe Blushing Bromeliad)
Unusually the flowers are borne low down in the centre of the plant and to be truthful they are not that spectacular, especially compared to the other bromeliad plants,
This plants has a rosette of shiny, strap-like, green, saw-edged leaves that are striped with cream. The beautiful feature of this plant is that the leaves will turn red or pinkish at flowering time.
The brightly coloured flowers are produced in summer and are produced far down in the centre of the plant in a group on a small spike. It prefers to grow in average temperature, not below 10 degree Celsius in bright, filtered light, under these conditions the plant will be the most colourful.
It is best to water via the urn in the centre of the plant; full in summer and quarter full in winter. The compost must be moist throughout the year. If the plant gets too cold in winter, then it is best to reduce the watering even further.
You may need to mist occasionally to keep humidity at the right levels. The plant will do better if during the growing season it is giving a feed of liquid fertiliser.
For an alternative try growing N. spectabilis (Lady’s Fingernail) as this forms a rosette of red-tipped, narrow, leathery, green leaves that are banded, white underneath.
This group of bromeliads have the rosette of attractive leaves and the solid coloured bracts that many of the group possess. The leaves are not too spectacular but the bracts can match any of the other types of bromeliads.
Tillandsia are usually bought already in flower for it can be tricky to encourage them to do so. The bracts are flattened spikes that contain the true flowers. The bracts can last for months, whilst the true flowers only last for such a short time.
This bromeliad is a clump-forming rosette of narrow, green with brown-edged leaves that are also brown at the base. The spear-shaped flower heads are red or pink in colour where dark-purple flowers are produced.
It grows up to 23cm in height and to be successful. Tillandsia needs warm temperature and above average humidity in bright, direct sunlight. The plant also needs to be watered freely in spring and summer, and just so in winter.
To keep humidity high you need to mist regularly in summer. A small container should be sufficient for the plant, which will benefit from a feed every month during the summer with a balanced liquid fertiliser.
AIR PLANTS ARE TILLANDSIA
Tillandsia has a form that is most unusual, where the foliage form are widely grown as air plants. This is because they do not need to be planted in compost to do well, but get their moisture from the atmosphere that surrounds them. Children find them fascinating.
They come in many different forms, some wonderful and strange, and nearly all having silvery-grey leaves covered in a fine, silvery felt.
One such air plant is T. usinoides (Spanish Moss). It is a pendulous bromeliad that has mossy tufts that trail considerably. Its leaves are yellowish-green and the plant needs no compost in order to survive. It can be grown in a hanging basket where from a mossy tree branch the plant can be supported and grow from.
Not an easy houseplant to look after, as it requires high humidity at all time by misting very frequently. Needs to be fed frequently with a foliage feed for the plant to be at its best. Can be kept short but then it will not look attractive.
VRIESEA SPLENDENS (Flaming Sword)
This is one of the most impressive of all the bromeliads as it had all the same qualities the others have, but on a much bigger scale. The leaves are bigger and beautifully marked, whilst the flowering bract is the largest and most colourful of all the bromeliads mentioned here.
This plant has a rosette of arching, strap-like, dark green leaves, that are banded across in light green. The tall sword-like spike often comes in red, where it can grow an impressive 60cm in height
It is fairly easy to grow as long as it is grown in moderate temperature, humidity and in bright, direct sunlight.
Water well in summer, using soft, sterilized water poured in the urn of the plant. The plant needs to be kept moist at all times, and just so in winter. You will need to feed every fortnight with a liquid fertiliser as it can be seen as a hungry plant, where it can grow up to a metre tall.
If you are looking for the best bromeliad to grow then V. hieroglyphica is the best. The common name tells you this as it is known as the ‘King of the Bromeliads’ and so is worth looking for.
In this article, the best bromeliads houseplant to grow has been discussed from how to look after them and what varieties to buy.
These are some of the most colourful houseplants you can buy and they are not too difficult to look after, as long as you give them the right amount of watering and get the temperature right.
They are not long-lasting plants but the offsets or pups they produce will ensure that you have new plants for many years to come.
If you want to have a well-balanced plant for indoors then this group of plants are for you, so why not try growing one today.
If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy pineapple plant hunting.