Bromeliads are native to the rain forests of South America. The “blooms” are actually colorful, long-lasting bracts. They’re easy to care for houseplants that add color to our winter homes.
In their rainforest homes, bromeliads grow on rocks or trees. Their root systems are small, so plant them in small pots using an orchid potting mix or mount them onto wood or stones, wrapping the roots in sphagnum moss to hold moisture. Dampen soil only when it becomes very dry. Most of the moisture and nutrients will be taken in from the leaves, which form a rosette-shaped reservoir at the base of the plant. Keep this reservoir filled with water and mist the leaves occasionally to simulate rainforest humidity. Avoid oil –based leaf shine, this interferes with their ability to take in water and nutrients. They will grow in indirect or direct light indoors.
The colorful bracts will last for several weeks to several months. When the color fades, the bromeliad slowly dies, but it sends up several “pups” along the outside of plant to reproduce. When the pups are a third the size of the parent plant they can be cut away and repotted. Be patient, it takes three to five years for them to show color! Feed regularly in the summer at half strength, spraying the fertilizer solution onto leaves and the reservoir.