Care and Feeding of Bromeliads


Bromeliad plants absorb moisture and nutrients through trichomes which are tiny scale-like dots on the leaves. Proper care of these plants varies depending on the species. Epiphytic bromeliads such as aechmea, billbergia or tillandsia grow on tree branches or other structures off of the ground and are often referred to as air plants. Cryptanthus, dyckia or vriesea are considered terrestrial bromeliads because they live on the ground.

Step 1

Affix the epiphytic bromeliad to a board or piece of driftwood with glue or fishing line to hold it firmly to the surface until it attaches itself. Spread glue on one side of the plant and base. Leave most of the base uncovered to allow for root growth. Tie the fishing line securely around the base of the bromeliad, the stem and two to four leaves. Do not pull the line so tightly that it cuts into the plant. Pot terrestrial bromeliads with non-soil potting medium in a pot with a drain hole in the bottom. Place large bromeliads in a 4 to 6 inch pot then place the 4 to 6 inch pot inside a 5 to 7 inch pot to add stability. Use a 2 to 3 inch pot for small bromeliads and place the 2 to 3 inch pot into a 3 to 4 inch pot.

Step 2

Place aechmea, billbergia dyckia tillandsia and vriesea in a bright sunny location out of direct sunlight. Place cryptanthus in a location that receives direct morning light and indirect light for the remainder of the day.

Step 3

Keep the bromeliad in temperatures ranging from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Adjust the temperature ranges according to the particular species as some bromeliads prefer warmer or cooler temperatures. Never throw away the plant tab that came with your plant at the time of purchase as it contains this valuable preference information. If you don't have the tab, bromeliad experts post the information on their websites.

Step 4

Water epiphytic and potted bromeliads in the morning 2 to 3 times per week with room-temperature rain water, distilled water or tap water that has been drawn into a container at least 24 hours prior to watering. Set epiphytic plants, board and all, into a sink and pour the water over them, fill the sink with water and completely submerse them for two to three hours or mist them until the leaves and roots are dripping. The first two methods are preferred. Pour the water evenly over the top of potted bromeliad plants and the potting medium until it drains out of the bottom of the pot. Allow the water to drain completely. Mist them in the morning every day or every other day with room temperature water, depending on the bromeliad species and the dryness of the housing conditions. Adjust the frequency of watering to accommodate the needs of the bromeliad species. Some types need to be kept more moist than others. Add bromeliad fertilizer to the water every two weeks.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use pressure treated wood as a medium. Bromeliads absorb nutrients through their leaves and pressure treated wood contains chemicals harmful to your plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Bromeliad plant
  • Untreated wood such as corkboard, driftwood, grapewood or cedar
  • Non-toxic water proof glue or hot glue
  • 10 feet of plastic fishing line
  • Non-soil potting mix such as horticultural charcoal, coconut chips, shredded fir tree bark or fibrous sphagnum moss
  • 1 plant container 4 to 6 inches in diameter
  • 1 plant container 5 to 7 inches in diameter
  • 1 plant container 2 to 3 inches in diameter
  • 1 plant container 3 to 4 inches in diameter
  • Rain water, distilled water, or aged tap water
  • Sink
  • Spray bottle with fine mist setting
  • Bromeliad fertilizer (17-8-22)


  • Smithsonian Institution: Bromeliad Fact Sheet
  • Bromeliad Society/Houston, Inc.: Tillandsia
  • Jacks Florida Bromeliads: Tillandsia (air plants)
Keywords: bromeliad plant care, potted bromeliad care, bromeliad air plants

About this Author

Reannan Raine worked for 30 years in the non-profit sector in various positions. She recently became a licensed insurance agent but has decided to pursue a writing career instead. Ms. Raine is hoping to have her first novel published soon.

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