Growing Bromeliads Together Part 4

Author: Celeste Booth3 Comments

Care and Culture

The best way to learn about growing a bromeliad is through experience. In order to learn more together we have started a series about growing bromeliads by a guest author. Sarah is a first time bromeliad owner with limited previous houseplant experience. She is raising two plants and sharing her adventure and acquired knowledge with us. If you need to catch up on previous posts, click on the links here: Month 1, Month 2, Month 3.

 

Repotting

The bromeliads continue to survive. If you remember, last month I repotted the Guzmania ‘Teresa’ in a slightly larger clay pot with some coarse orchid potting medium. It had been in the small plastic container it was originally shipped in, set inside a cute mug. The Guzmania seems much happier in the new clay pot. It still leans a bit, but I propped it up with some of the larger pieces of bark. A few of the leaves also have some brown spots and are a bit shriveled. I think this is because of the low humidity that comes from running the heat constantly this chilly winter.

Relocating

I also relocated the pot from the kitchen table to a piece of countertop right next to the kitchen window. The plant gets a bit of early morning sunlight and is pretty well protected the rest of the day. The color of the leaves has become a slightly deeper, so I take that to mean it is happy with this amount of light. This new location also provides more humidity as we use the kitchen sink throughout the day.

Slowing Down

I learned that winter is a period of slower growth form many bromeliads. Because there is not much action they need less water. I was probably watering too much for the season and that was contributing to the rot problems the Guzmania started having. I finally broke down and bought a spray bottle. I quit watering the pot altogether and started misting the leaves with the spray bottle about every third day.

Leaning Leaves

Guzmania from above

The rosette on the Guzmania is especially beautiful when viewed from above. Still no sign of red in the center.

Some of the leaves at the base of the plant were leaning rather far out from the central rosette. I was afraid this may have been damage from rotting. However, I went back and explored the pictures of the Guzmania ‘Teresa’ on Tropiflora and it looks like it may be normal for the leaves to lean out at the base and be tighter and more upright toward the center. You will notice in the picture, that the rosette looks rather uniform from above. However, it is much looser and broader at the base and becomes tighter towards the center.

Waiting For A Flower

There is still no sign of a bloom. The center leaves are supposed to turn red as the plant gets ready to flower. They are still green with no hint of red, but the plant continues to produce a few more leaves here and there. Hopefully the summer growing season will inspire a bloom.

No Change

The Tillandsia ionantha ‘Fuego’ remains about the same as well. It continues to hang in the window. It looks healthy and well, but it is done blooming. It doesn’t seem to be setting on any pups yet. I mist the plant about every other day with the new spray bottle instead of soaking it. It seems content with this arrangement. I still use distilled water in the spray bottle to avoid the mineral build up that comes from using tap water.

Vacation

Vacation is the challenge I face this month. We going away to visit family for a week. It is hard enough to find someone to take care of the dog for us, so I hate to add the plants to their load too. Here is my plan: Supposedly bromeliads are more drought tolerant and can recover faster from being too dry than too wet. I am going to take the risk of making them too dry.

Tray and pebbles

The tray contains water that will evaporate and raise the humidity around the plant. Note that the plant does not sit directly in the water.

Raising Humidity

I will set out a tray to try to keep the humidity around the plants high. I’m using a left over 8×8 aluminum baking pan. It is not the most attractive, but I had it laying around the house. I filled it with some of the decorative rocks that I used with the original Guzmania pot. Then I added water and set the Guzmania pot right on top of the rocks, with the saucer underneath. I don’t want the clay pot to soak up any water from the tray directly. As the water evaporates it will add moisture to the air around the plant. Hopefully, the Tillandsia will be close enough to benefit too. The heat in the house will not run as much because I will turn it down before we go. Hopefully less blowing hot air will keep things from getting too dry.

I will give the two plants one last spritz before we go and then trust them to be on their own for a week. I will let you know how they held up when I get back.

Quick Corrections

Even though I have needed to make some adjustments; change my watering plan, repot the Guzmania, and try a new location with a little more humidity and a little less light, these two bromeliads are relatively undemanding. They do not require daily attention and so far I haven’t made a mistake they can’t recover from. Hints that they are unhappy are subtle, but if you pick up on them, you can resolve any problems before they cause too much damage to the plant. I have killed other plants a lot faster. So far I would recommend these to plants to beginner growers. However, you need to have patience if you are looking for something exciting like a flower to happen.

Adding to the Collection

I have enjoyed these plants, my kids and dog don’t seem to give them too much trouble and they don’t consume more than a few minutes of my time each day. Since they are going so well, I think I will expand my collection. I will wait until I get back from my vacation and then decide what will fit into my small family of plants. I would like to grow an Aechmea or Vriesea. They have beautiful flowers, but I think they may be a bit more unforgiving than the two plants I have now. If I do my research hopefully I can find one that will fit in with my plant care style.

Your Tips and Tricks

What bromeliads have you been growing? What problems have you run into? What solutions seem to work the best?

Sources

“A Few Tips On How To Provide Extra Humidity.” Bromeliads.info <http://www.bromeliads.info/a-few-tips-on-how-to-provide-extra-humidity/>

“Frequently Asked Questions.” Bromeliad Society International. <http://www.bsi.org/new/frequently-asked-questions/>

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3 Responses to “Growing Bromeliads Together Part 4”

  1. mike says:

    I live in Bradenton fl. Over 20 VARIETIES in the yard. many have large 2 to 4 foot flowers. How do I keep them from falling over? Soil is very sandy.

  2. Ron Kasting says:

    What is the best soil media?

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      You want a potting mix that will drain well, to prevent root rot. See our post on potting media: Soil and Potting Needs for Bromeliads

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