Bromeliad: care & varieties

Bromeliad: care & varieties


Bromeliads not only look exotic, they are exotic too: Their home area is the so-called Neotropic, which mainly extends over South and Central America, but also over the West Indies. Their original habitats are therefore very different in terms of climate than in our latitudes - namely above all tropical warm, humid and not subject to four seasons. Nevertheless, some of the very numerous bromeliad species can be cultivated very well in our room as ornamental plants - they can thrive without any problems at normal living temperatures in heated rooms.

also read

  • What to do when a bromeliad flower dries up
  • Bromeliad flower has finished blooming - what to do?
  • How do I properly care for a bromeliad? - Answers to common questions

The bromeliads are named after the Swedish doctor Olaf Bromel. Incidentally, the first bromeliad came to Europe with the famous discoverer Christopher Columbus - in the form of a pineapple, which is probably the best known species of bromeliad because of its fruit. Because of her, the plant family is also nicknamed the pineapple family.

To note:

  • Origin of the bromeliads in South and Central America
  • some species can be easily cultivated in our room
  • first bromeliad species - pineapple - reached Europe through column


The vast majority of species of the bromeliad family are evergreen perennials. The strong rosette structure with wide, pointed, upright leaves is typical of its appearance. In some species, rainwater collects in the funnel-like center of the leaf rosette. Many species are xerophytic, so they can reduce their evaporation through various mechanisms.

Another characteristic of the Bromeliceae is their epiphytic growth - they belong to the so-called epiphytes, such as orchids. In nature, they grow without roots mainly on trees or on rocks. In indoor culture, they are only kept in pots for stabilization purposes.

The most important things again at a glance:

  • Bromeliads are mostly evergreen perennials
  • have compressed stem axis with leaf rosette
  • most species belong to the epiphytes, the rootless epiphytes


The leaves of bromeliads are not only characteristic of their appearance - they are also essential nutrient channels for many species. After all, as epiphytes, you cannot cover your nutritional needs through roots. Instead, they get nutrients and moisture directly from the air via absorbent scales and flaky hair on the tops of the leaves. Light hairs reduce evaporation and protect against sunburn.


Many people keep a bromeliad in their room or office because of the sometimes quite spectacular and colorful blooms. What is so impressive, however, is not the actual flower at all - it is rather small and inconspicuous in most ornamental species. However, it is surrounded by large bracts, which often appear in gorgeous colors and also last much longer than the actual flowers.

For most bromeliads, the formation of flowers is a very power-consuming and therefore only one-time thing, which leads to the death of the rosette of leaves or even the end of life in the case of the giant bromeliad.

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Which location is suitable?

The small selection from the huge range of species of the Bromeliceae that we keep as house plants originally come from the tropical rainforests of South America. The species that come from airier, cooler mountain regions are usually of little relevance to our concerns.

It goes without saying that you should give an ornamental bromeliad - the Guzmanias are particularly popular and widespread - a location with the most tropical conditions possible. So it should be light, warm throughout and as humid as possible. It is best to place them next to a window that lets in a lot of light but not full sunlight.

The ambient temperature preferred by bromeliads practically corresponds to a room temperature of around 20 ° C, which many find pleasantly warm. It can of course get warmer, but the thermometer shouldn't drop below 18 ° C.

The most important site conditions for ornamental bromeliads:

  • bright, but not full sun
  • the highest possible humidity
  • Warm all year round, around 20 ° C and warmer

In summer, you can also put most of the ornamental bromeliads outside. But again make sure that it does not get intense direct sun. In addition, putting it outside is usually only possible in phases - because on nights with temperatures below 15 ° C the bromeliad freezes too much so that you have to bring it back in.

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What soil does the plant need?

As I said - as rootless epiphytes, most bromeliads do not actually need a pot with a soil substrate. In any case, you can't feed them with it. You can therefore plant the actually rootless varieties in a loose substrate made of bark and peat moss like an orchid. The bromeliad only needs to hold on to this - until it has managed that, you can offer it help with a little wire at the beginning. The epiphytic bromeliads can even be cultivated on stones.

In a pot with soil you can handle the bromeliad a little better and integrate it structurally and visually more homogeneously into your indoor plant kingdom. In the case of terrestrially growing, i.e. also root-forming varieties, which are also found among the ornamental species, an earth substrate is necessary in contrast to the epiphytic bromeliads. It should be free of lime and permeable. You can also use special orchid soil, optionally mixed with normal potting soil.

The substrate design at a glance:

  • for epiphytic species: culture in bark and peat moss substrate or on stones possible
  • for terrestrial species: lime-free soil made from orchid soil and potting soil

Water bromeliad

When it comes to watering, too, a distinction must be made between rootless and terrestrial bromeliads. The terrestrial ones are naturally watered with a watering can and supplied with moisture via the soil substrate. You should always keep the substrate moist - don't forget that the bromeliad is a rainforest plant. It is also important to always keep the rosette funnel filled with water, especially in summer. For watering, it is best to use lime-free water at room temperature.

In winter, however, the bromeliad may only be watered a little parallel to the reduced amount of light. Then fill the leaf funnel only very sparingly.

Epiphytic bromeliads, which you have only placed in a dry base to hold on to, do not use the watering can, but use a disperser to pour their water directly onto the leaves, which absorb it with their suction scales. The above-mentioned water quality criteria also apply here.

By the way, you shouldn't refrain from spraying the terrestrial bromeliads - they too, of course, like one or the other gentle tropical rain!

To note:

  • keep terrestrial bromeliads moist throughout
  • Keep the central funnel (4.63 € at Amazon *) in the leaf rosette always filled with water
  • Use low-lime water at room temperature
  • Just spray epiphytic bromeliads

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Fertilize bromeliad properly

Bromeliads don't need much fertilization. During the main summer vegetation phase, you can add a little liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water once a week.

Trimming bromeliad properly

The topic of cutting is also rather subtle with the indoor bromeliads. Their compact, even rosette growth makes formal trimming unnecessary.

The question remains about the possibly rejuvenating, refreshing removal of dead plant parts. Of course, the leaves of the bromeliad also bless the temporal. When they wither and dry up, you should only carefully pluck them out or let them fall off on their own. The fiber structure of the bromeliad leaves does not tolerate cuts particularly well.

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Dried up

You should of course avoid dried-up leaves of your indoor bromeliad by diligently keeping them moist. It is normal for the beautiful bracts to dry up sometime after the flower has finished blooming and does not need to be “treated”. Just keep watering as normal - this promotes the child development, which the bromeliad is ready for after flowering.

Propagate bromeliad

That brings us to the subject of reproduction. Most of the time, bromeliads reproduce themselves via Kindel. These grow as side shoots - so you only need to cut them off as soon as they have matured with the leaf rosette and roots. Then the side shoot is usually about half the size of the mother plant. However, you should be very careful when cutting. It is best to use a freshly sharpened knife and disinfect it with high percentage alcohol before cutting.

The child is placed in a low-lime, loose substrate and best covered with a foil. In this way you can offer it an evenly moist, protected microclimate to take root.


Dividing in the classic sense, i.e. cutting through the root ball, is of course out of place with bromeliads. They can only be divided in the sense of separating the child from the mother plant for purposes of reproduction.

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Is Bromeliad Poisonous?

In the case of exotic ornamental plants, one often does not know exactly whether they are not poisonous - for humans or for pets. After all, this is definitely the case with some splendid looking varieties. However, bromeliads are generally not poisonous. So much for the good news. However, the leaves of some ornamental bromeliads contain skin-irritating substances such as calcium oxalate and the enzyme bromeline. They are not toxic, but toddlers and pets shouldn't eat bromeliad leaves either.

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Due to their typical pineapple-like growth, one might wonder whether other bromeliads besides pineapple are also edible in any way. However, only the fruits of the pineapple are actually edible. There are a few different varieties of which the average consumer in this country does not notice much - because only the Smooth Cayenne variety is marketed commercially and worldwide. Varieties from other groups, such as the Queen or Pernambuco groups, are primarily grown in South America for fresh consumption.


As with many tropical ornamental plants, you can give a bromeliad its preferred warm and humid climate simply by placing it in the bathroom. So you don't have to constantly monitor that the humidity is high enough.



The Guzmanias are probably the most popular and most widespread group of the ornamental bromeliads cultivated in this country. You can find them on many window sills, where they conjure up exotic splashes of color with their bright bracts in red, orange, pink or yellow. The flowering time is in winter, around the time between December and February - however, the joy of flowering is not only unique, but unfortunately also short-lived. Overall, a guzmania can reach a height of 30 to 60 cm. Within the Guzmania species there are up to 200 species.

Air carnations

With around 550 species, the aerial carnations, botanically Tillandsia, form the most diverse genus of the Bromeliceae. They are of the epiphytic type, so they can be cultivated in bark peat moss substrate or on stones and only need to be sprayed with water. There are also isolated species that grow terrestrially.

With their bizarre structures and shapes, mostly in reddish to pink tones, their inflorescences are very original and eye-catching. The many subspecies can reach very different sizes. Some only grow to 30 cm high, others alone form leaves up to 50 cm long.

Tillandsia are also specifically suitable for temporary outdoor use.

Flaming sword

This bromeliad genus, botanically called Vriesea, got its pathetic name from its sword-shaped, curved, shiny inflorescences with bracts in bright orange to scarlet red, which appear individually or in groups. The flowering time can be at different times of the year depending on the environmental conditions. The leaves of the Vriesea can be up to 75 cm long, depending on the variety, such as the Vriesea hieroglychipca. The flower stem is usually not much smaller.

The leaves of the Flaming Sword can also be very decorative with delicate ribbon structures in creamy to reddish tones.

Nest rosette

The nest rosettes, botanically Nidularium, are characterized by a nest-like arrangement of the leaf rosette. Its leathery, soft leaves are prickly serrated and coated with a natural sheen. The inflorescences delight with the brightly colored bracts in red, yellow or orange tones, which appear long before the bloom time. The flower itself produces the nest rosette between June and September. Depending on the species, up to 30 cm can be reached.

Lance rosette

The name of the lance rosette, botanically Aechmea, is also indicative - it describes the high, up to 30 cm long inflorescences that are adorned for months by brightly colored bracts. The small flowers are colored blue and only last a very short time. Depending on the subspecies, lance rosettes reach between 35 and 50 cm in height. The strong leaves are also up to 50 cm long and up to 10 cm wide. They are armed with spines at the edge and at the tip of the leaf. Aechmeen, like Tillandsia, can stand outside for a while relatively easily in warm summer periods.

Ornamental pineapple

Not all pineapples are grown with the sweet, aromatic fruits in mind - there are also some ornamental varieties that look very nice on the windowsill. Some species are adorned with attractive color accents on the otherwise gray-green leaves and thus offer a great exotic sight. The fruits of these varieties are not edible, but with their dark pink color they are decorative in their own way. For an ornamental pineapple, however, you need some space: at a height of about one meter, it can be up to two meters wide.