All About Bromeliads: Our New Favorite Bromeliad Genera and How To Care For Them
There’s just something about bromeliads. From their unique shapes and sizes, bright colorful patterns and large, dramatic flowers, these easy-to-care-for houseplants simply scream “indoor jungle.”
The Bromeliad family is native (mostly) to the tropical Americas, and contains over 3,000 species! Some of these are extremely popular – like Air Plants and Pineapple (yes, the fruit!). But some of the most exciting bromeliads also happen to be less well known. Specifically, Bromeliads in the Billbergia, Vriesea, Neoregelia and Aechmea genera make extremely beautiful beginner houseplants that can provide striking color and an exotic, tropical feel in nearly any space.
Here are a few of of our new favorite bromeliad species and cultivars within these genera, along with some general bromeliad care tips!
Our New Favorite Bromeliad Genera
Species / Cultivar(s): ‘Hallelujah’
Why We Love Them: Holy smokes! This plant looks like something out of a Jackson Pollock painting. Deeply purple in color with flecks and spots of creamy white that look like they were flung from a paintbrush by a temperamental artist. Plus, this specimen has a unique shape, growing very tall while not spreading too wide. Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’ is a great way to add height and color to your indoor plant collection – plus, the green and purple flower spikes are gorgeous.
Species / Cultivar(s): fasciata
Why We Love Them: If you’re looking for one bromliad that does it all, the Aechmea fasciata might be the one for you. First, the leaves – wide, arching and deep blue-green with a matte finish and subtle white striping. Second, size; this species gets quite enormous, reaching 12-35″ in height and 24″ in width. Last but certainly not least, the flower. Electric pink and much wider / more substantial than that of other bromeliad, this flower lasts for months, with darker purple buds opening gradually as the flower develops. Aechmea fasciata is a true show-stopper!
Species / Cultivars: fosteriana, fenestralis, hieroglyphica, sherlette shiigi
Why We Love Them: These members of the Vriesea genus have smooth beautifully arched foliage growing in the classic bromeliad rosette shape. V. fenestralis, hieroglypica and splendens each have fantastically dramatic leaf patterns – from thin to wide, zebra-like stripes that zig-zag across the leaves. They are also varied in size, with small and large specimens readily available. The sherlette shiigi in particular has an incredible range of colors present in the foliage, almost the entire rainbow.
Species / Cultivars: concentrica, marmorata, takemura grande
Why We Love Them: Neoregelia are native to the jungles of South America, and have wider and flatter leaves than some of the other bromeliad genera mentioned here. As such the overall shape of hte plant is wider, and from above resembles the shape of a flower. These species have foliage with a matte-finish, with fascinating combinations of green and purple on the leaf. The marmorata in particular looks almost like painted polkadots!
Bromeliad Care Tips: How To Care For Bromeliads
Find the right light:
Some bromeliads are terrestrial (growing in soil) while others are epiphytic (growing on other trees). Whether in trees or on the ground, as tropical natives, they often are found under the jungle canopy, making them well adapted to lower light conditions than, say, succulents and cacti.
Depending on your particular bromeliad species, your plant may want brighter or lower light. But as a general rule of thumb, you should avoid placing these plants in direct sun. If your brightly colored plant fades to green, that’s a signal your bromeliad wants more light than it’s getting. If it’s getting too much light (and direct light in particular), it will get sunburn – which often shows up as white or splotchy patches on the foliage.
Another quick rule to test how much light your bromeliad needs is to feel the leaves. The more supple, floppy-leafed plants tend to require less light than bromeliads with stiffer foliage.
How to Water a Bromeliad:
Most bromeliads have a very different watering regimen than other houseplants. Even if your bromeliad grows terrestrially in a pot, don’t water the soil! Rather, keep the central “cup” filled with water at all times. Each time you water the plant, dump out any standing water to keep it from getting funky. Using filtered water is best.
Some epiphytic bromeliads (like Tillandsia, for instance) prefer to be soaked or misted.
How to propagate a bromeliad / Bromeliad life cycle:
Your bromeliad plant will last for many years with proper care. These plants have a definite life-cycle, though. When the plant reaches maturity, it will produce a central flower that is often large and dramatic. The flower can last for many months! Eventually, though, the flower will fade and can be cut away. At this point, the “mother” plant will begin to put its energy into propagation. The plant will produce small offsets called pups. The pups will get their energy from the mother plant, and as they grow, the mother plant will start to fade away. Eventually, the pups will replace the mother plant entirely.
You can separate these pups by using a clean knife and cutting them away from the mother plant. As a general rule, cut them away when they’ve reached 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant, or when the pups have produced some of their own roots.
While we always recommend doing your own research on pet safety with specific species, bromeliads are considered non-toxic to dogs and cats!
Is your bromeliad mounted?
No problem! We mount these plants often and they work really well! The care regimen is a bit different though, so check out our article on mounted bromeliad care. PS – we ship our mounted bromeliads! Check out the listing, below.