bromeliads grown indoors are tropical epiphytes though the pineapple is a terrestrial
member of this family. All bromeliads are natives of the Americas but Spanish moss
grows extensively in trees in the southern states. Bromeliads are monocots and have
leaves and flowers characteristic of the Monocotyledonae. The bromeliad plant grows
vegetatively and dies after it flowers. As it is dying, the mother plant sends out
pups which follow the same growth pattern. Since they are epiphytes, bromeliads do
well in a moist but well aerated medium. The cup in the heart of the bromeliad
catches and holds water and is also the source of nutrition since many insects, bird
droppings, etc. accumulate in the water. Bromeliads are a relatively recent group of
indoor plants, being in common cultivation for about the last 50 years. For that
reason many do not have common names but have names derived from their genus.
a genus that produces attractive foliage with various color patterns. Its
inflorescence is large with close internodes. There are many species in cultivation.
Ananas comosus is the
pineapple. Although it is a terrestrial bromeliad,
it has a relatively sparse root system. A common way to start a pineapple is from
the crown of a fruit that was eaten. Cut the crown with a little flesh at its
base. Strip away the flesh and basal leaves. Let the crown sit out for a few
days before sticking it in a propagation bed. It roots rapidly, usually within a
couple of weeks.
Species in the genus Bilbergia
have attractive foliage and produce flowers in long inflorescences. The colorful
bracts call attention to the flowers.
Species in the genus Tillandsia
are very commonly found in trees. Spanish Moss and ball moss are examples of Tillandsia.
the earth star, is a terrestrial bromeliad that is very tolerant of dry places and makes a
good plant in a dish garden of drought tolerant plants. Many have very colorful
Plants in the genus Neoregelia have very
colorful leaves. Since the flowers are borne within the rosettes of leaves, they are
especially grown for their brightly colored, variegated leaves.
General Care of Bromeliads:
||Standard room temperature is acceptable
for the bromeliads.
||Terrestrial forms can be potted in a mix
containing sand and soil. The general purpose medium given above would be
acceptable. Epiphytic types need excellent drainage and air movement through the
root system. The media above for epiphytes would be acceptable.
||The roots should be moist but not
wet. The roots should dry between waterings. Water is often put into the cup
formed by the leaves. Water high in sodium would be a special problem and should not
be used for bromeliads. Dump the water out and replace it from time to time.
||Bromeliads can tolerate lower light
intensities, but they grow best and are most colorful at brighter light in a warm, humid
environment. Intense summer light in a warm, arid climate would burn most of the
plants in this family.
||Light fertilization is all that is
needed. Slow release fertilizer in the pots of terrestrial forms would be
adequate. Dilute fertilizer solution may be put into the cup formed by the leaves.
|pests and problems:
||Bromeliads are nearly pest free.
Virus may be the most serious problem.
||Remove dead leaves and repot pups when
they become crowded.
||Pups or offsets are the most common
method of propagation. When the mother plant has flowered it will die
but as it is dying it will make one, a few, or many new pups.