Written by Chris Campbell
Bromeliads are long-lasting, colorful houseplants that are related to the pineapple but with a bright, exotic bloom at the top. These interesting tropical plants require little attention and will add a touch of color to any room. Since these tropical plants adapt easily to indoor growing conditions, they be may be just the plant for you.
Bromeliad foliage variations include green, gray, maroon, pink, spotted or striped. Leaves can be grass-like and less than 2 inches long to broad and several feet long. The upper leaves of many species change color when plants are about to flower. Some turn pink then deep purple-blue flowers arise among the leaves. Another variety has red tips on their leaves that resemble fingernails, and are often called “painted fingernail.” Plants hold their color for several months. Flowering parts of a plant may arise from the “cup” or be borne within the “cup.” The “cup” or the “vase” is a water-holding reservoir formed in the center of many bromeliads by a rosette of overlapping leaves.
In their native habitat, many bromeliads live on branches and trunks of trees or on rocks. Most grow well in containers using many different materials, including river gravel, perlite, coarse granite, treefern fiber, fir bark, coconut fiber, cork bark, German peat, sand, coarse leafmold or mixtures of these. Clay pots or decorative containers work well for bromeliads.
Whether you choose a single plant or a grouping of different plants, open your imagination to a wide range of possibilities for arranging and displaying your bromeliad. Planting requirements are simple. You need enough planting media to hold the plant upright. The container and materials need to give good aeration and drainage, while holding some moisture and fertility for the plant. Bromeliads can handle a wide range of light exposure and intensities, depending on the variety. For example, varieties that have hard, thick gray-green coloring with “silver” or “fuzzy” hair-like scales on the outside can withstand higher light levels than varieties with soft green leaves.
In your home, a window with a south, east or west exposure should provide satisfactory light for a Bromeliad. However, most bromeliads do NOT like direct sun, so keep the plant way from the windows. The plant will let you know when it is not happy with its light. If it’s leaves become yellowish or pale green, the light level is most likely too high. When leaves are darker than normal green with elongated or open leaves may mean the light level is too low.
Regardless of the container or variety of bromeliads you select, they are guaranteed to provide a bright and unique focal point on a table or counter top. Use these plants to design a centerpiece for any occasion.