Bromeliads (bro-meh-lee-AH-d) are a plant family found growing naturally in the warmer climates of the western hemisphere. Spanish moss and pineapples are the most familiar plants of this family.
In nature many bromeliads grow on trees as epiphytes or airplants. Their roots are used mainly for support. They are not parasites. While many bromeliads grow on trees, many others grow on the ground, on rocks, and on cliffs. They are remarkably versatile and have a tremendous ability to survive.
Bromeliads do exceptionally well in South Florida’s environment. They want to be planted in well draining soil, have an adequate amount of filtered sun light and are somewhat drought tolerant. Some varieties will even prefer full sun if given an adjustment period. They can add a tremendous amount of color and texture to any landscape and grow well on lanais too.
When potting bromeliads, a quick draining media works best. Smaller plastic pots work better than large pots. Even in the landscape, pots can be submerged instead of planting the whole plant.
Most bromeliads bloom only once, then they die. Once the plant is mature enough it will bloom and then produce off-shoots, called pups. The mother plant will then slowly die, while nourishing the pups. When the pups, are about half the size of the mother, they can be separated either by pulling them off or cutting them with scissors or a knife. If Pups are left on the mother they will grow and eventually become a beautiful cluster instead of having one plant. The dead leaves of the mother can eventually be removed.
Watering as you would your landscape will suffice making certain to keep the ‘cup’ full. Bromeliads only need slow release fertilizer a couple times a year, sprinkled around the roots not in the cup. Bromeliads are really an easy plant to grow and to see multiply. They require very little attention. They complement orchids in that they both need about the same amount of care and light.