Colorful Bromeliads make excellent indoor plants. They require very little care and thrive on neglect. This combination of hardiness and the long-lasting flowering period make bromeliads the very best of the indoor flowering plants. The blooms are highly attractive with an exceptional range of colors. Some are waxy and exotic looking while the color in others is produced by colorful bracts (leaves). Because of the waxy nature of the bloom (they actually feel like leaves), the colors can endure up to 8 months. In addition, some have the beautiful berries (Aechmeas) and beautiful flowers (Tillandsias). Although Bromeliads produce beautiful blooms, the foliage is quite beautiful itself. After a bromeliad has blossomed, it will slowly die over a period of up to one year but not before it produces three to four pups.
Because of the shape of the plant, water is trapped in the cup of the vase-like structure and then runs down in somewhat of a spiral fashion onto the soil. Because of this, they do not require frequent watering (about every 10 days to three weeks depending on light intensity). It is important not to allow stagnant water to remain in the “cup” (central part of the leaves), therefore it is recommended that the cup is emptied once a month.
Bromeliads prefer bright, diffused light but not direct sun because the leaves will burn. A minimum of 200 foot-candles* of indoor maintenance is best in preserving the colorful appearance of the flower.
Use fertilizer only in the summer months. The strength of the fertilizer should not exceed one-third of the recommended dosage. Never use fish emulsion or other organic fertilizers. Use feeds which dissolve in water and only when at least 750 foot-candles* of light are present. “Dark” interior conditions require no fertilizer.
*Foot-candle: A unit of illumination (now little used) equal to that given by a source of one candela at a distance of one foot (equivalent to one lumen per square foot or 10.764 lux).
House temperatures are ideal of these plants usually between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Becuase of their low-maintenance requirements, bromeliads are being used with increasing frequency in hotels, malls, banks, restaurants, etc. where minimum upkeep is required.
New plants, called “pups” or offshoots, will grow from the side of the mother plant near its base. They can be removed with a sharp knife or clippers when they are one-third to one-half the size of the mother plant. The pups should then be repotted and watered similarly to other bromeliads. It is important that the potting soil must drain rapidly and hold the plant firmly in the pot. Be sure your bromeliads have an adequate root system before transplanting.