Caring For Bromeliad; Air Plants, Pineapple Plant, Brome
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What are Bromes?
Bromeliads are Epiphytes; like orchids they live on other other plants, rocks, or bark. They have what are referred to as Air Roots nestled down at the base of their leaves. They collect the majority of their water in their natural habitat from humidity and rain water that pools in the "cups". The term cups refers to the rounded opening at the base of each of the leaves. Deep within these cups are where the air roots lie.
Indoor Bromeliads like Guzmania are most often potted in coarse bark filled soil at their base, and they do grow roots into the soil, the soil does deliver moisture and nutrient to the plant, as well as a stable base.
Great care must be taken to make sure that a brome is not kept overly moist in an interior environment. One of the most common methods of causing premature death or destruction for an interior brome is to keep it too moist, causing rotting rot issues.
The incredible color, and shape varieties avaliable in the super hardy indoor flower Bromeliad, can offer a great long lasting addition to your interior plant display.
Bromeliad is an interestingly shaped plant, and can be found in just about every color in the rainbow. This plant can last in full color bloom up to several months indoors, 8 to 12 weeks longevity can be expected, however it is not uncommon for them to last much longer. Bromes come in compact shapes, low growing variteies, tall colorful, thick and full, small and compact, feather shapes, and as the novel pineapple plant (novel outside of it's natural habitat of course).
Finding an indoor space.
Finding a spot to put your Brome is a fairly easy task. Since to some extent these plants, like many indoor flowing plants are considered to some extent to be disposable, meaning that they are kept until the flowering is done and then changes out, you really can put them just about anywhere.
For best results, and to have a viable plant for the long term, with the potential to reproduce, placing a Bromeliad in a moderate natural light environment is best. If by chance there is an available area that produces humidity, like a bathroom, sun room, or greenhouse and provides the ideal moderate lighting conditions, a Brome would find this to be an ideal indoor home.
High light will do, but will decrease the life span of the bloom, and can frequently burn the leaves if too extreme. Frequent watering will be needed in such a condition.
Low light will also do, in low light consider your plant disposable. The bloom can last for a very long time but once it is gone there is little to no chance that the remaining plant will be viable. In low light an extreme decrease in watering will be absolutely necessary extending the lifespan of this plant, otherwise the Bromeliad will be almost assured to rot out and become unsightly in a premature amount of time. Water does not evaporate quickly, and plant productivity decreases in such conditions, too much water will be something that the plant will be unable to get rid of in low light and or cool conditions.
Temperature is a factor to be reckoned with. Great care must be taken during transport to avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold. Either of these factors will cause immediate unsightly damage to Bromeliad, that presents itself as great brown blotches on the leaves, brown or purple speckling, or large areas of the leaf tips that have noticeably discolored.
Aside from transport, finding a space with comfortable indoor temperature is best. If a room is uncomfortable for you, it may be uncomfortable for your tropical plant.
Native Habitat South America
More on Bromes
The Great Bromeliad watering debate
There has been a long standing debate over the best practice for interior Bromeliad watering among those in the industry. One group insists that watering into the cups is best since that is how the plant would naturally collect it's water in the wild, another group says that watering into the soil is best because watering into the cups increases the chances of rot indoors, and there are even some who believe that a little bit of both yield the best results. Who is right?
Having nearly a decades worth of experience caring for these vibrant little creatures in all manner of environments have shown that for most interior environments watering into the soil seems to yield the best long term results.
In the typical home or office there is just not enough heat, and airflow available to assist a Bromeliad in using up the pooled moisture in the cups, and they do rot, and consequently die prematurely due to the build up of excessive trapped fluid between the leaves. When watering into the soil there is a medium that helps to disperse the moisture, and the the roots beneath the soil are more than adequate to provide for a Bromeliad in a mild indoor environment.
Without a doubt watering into the soil is best for a Brome in low light, and watering sparingly at that. Be absolutely sure that the soil has dried out completely before reapplying water in low light, and never leave excess water in the liner. Be warned that in such a condition it may take quite a while for the soil moisture to dry out.
All of that being said I have also experienced some environments in which watering into the cups has worked better, these environments tend to have more airflow, heat, and light than the typical indoor home or office. Areas that are large open public areas, like a lobby of a hotel with a revolving door, or a large atrium often get a great deal more light making the plants productivity increase, and constant airflow that causes evaporation to increase. In these cases watering into the cups each time they are found to be dry is the best practice, since it is clear that the water will not sit and stagnate between the leaves.
So, my overall response to the great bromeliad watering debate is that all parties are correct depending on the environment.
Starting a Pineapple Bromeliad
More on Pineapple Bromeliad
Yes, delicious pineapples are fruit produced by Bromeliads. In areas of the united states that are far from being tropical, Pineapple Bromeliads can be found at local nurseries from time to time, sold as a novelty plant. In appearance, they generally have a nice full bodied foliar base with a small undeveloped pinapple sticking up in the middle, in a similar place to where the colorful flower would be found on other Brome varieties.
Interestingly, new Pineapple plants can be started from the foliage plume on the top of a Pineapple purchased from your local grocer. In areas outside of of the natural tropical habitat, they may not be highly productive in growing fruit, but starting one looks like a fun experiment all the same especially for anyone who just loves to watch things change and grow.
Small varieties of Bromeliad commonly referred to as Air Plants, or Tillandsia, can be found in local nurseries sold completely free of all soil. These interesting little plants collect all of their water by absorbing it through air roots, and collecting the water on their semi porous foliage.
Many creative displays can be created with these little critters ranging from about 1" to 4", in height & width. caring for them takes nothing mor than running them under some warm water, or spritzing them about every 1 to 2 weeks. They can be made into wall hangings, set in terrariums, set out as table displays, and the list goes on.
Bromeliad definitely have the capability of helping humans think outside of the box, both in form and function.
These plants can be very fun, and incite our creative abilities. A new style, a new variety, a new color, a new shape, a new idea.
Go ahead, bring something new into your indoor environment, see what happens.