Growing bromeliads

bromeliads in potShould I fertilise my bromeliads. If so when and how?

Bromeliads will grow very well in the open garden without fertilising but you will have a much more colourful and stronger plant if careful feeding is carried out. Fertilise only in the warmer months with a weak solution of a liquid fertilizer. (no more than half strength). Most fish or seaweed fertilisers are suitable but do remember, use only half recommended strength.

Are there any ‘best’ or ‘worst’ times in the year to propagate bromeliad pups (offsets)?

All propagation of bromeliads should be carried out in warmer months. For Sydney and surrounding areas it is generally accepted that from late September through to April are the acceptable months for dividing and potting. Although plants will survive if divided and potted in the colder months you will find that they do not thrive, and indeed often do not root until well into the next year.

It is advisable to wait until the pup (offshoot) is at least one third the size of the parent plant before removal.

Gently remove the pup from the mother plant (by using a sharp knife) close as possible to the parent. Allow the base of the pup to dry for at least 24 hours then place firmly in a pot of a good quality orchid mix.

Where can I grow my bromeliads?

– Bromeliads Indoors
Bromeliads need a brightly lit location near a window to give sufficient light for them to grow. It is a good idea to group several plants together to help maintain humidity around plants. A daily misting will keep plants healthy. Plants should be washed regularly to remove dust from their leaves to allow the plants to breathe and absorb moisture.

Warning: Do not use sprays containing oil e.g. Leaf Gloss, White Oil etc. as these will suffocate the plant. Do not stand pot or containers directly in saucers. Elevate to avoid potting mixture being continually wet.

– Bromeliads in the Shade House
An ideal shade house in the Sydney area should have protection against cold southerly or dry westerly winds. Shading of 50 to 70% will suit most bromeliads. A fiberglass roof is ideal to keep rain of the plants in colder months.
– Bromeliads in Glasshouses (cold or heated)
A very small percentage of bromeliads require more protection in winter months to keep them looking their best. In the glasshouse fans are needed to keep the air circulating around the plants. During summer months glasshouses will become very hot so exhaust fans and cooling systems may be needed.
– Bromeliads in the garden
Most bromeliads are epiphytes growing on trees or around the base of them in leaf litter, moss or on rock outcrops. When planning a garden for bromeliads, remember it must be given excellent drainage. Bark mulch makes an excellent medium to grow bromeliads in, helping to raise the humidity around the plants as well as deterring weeds.

What sort of light conditions do Bromeliads need?

To grow bromeliads to perfection the right amount of light is needed for each species to bring out the best in their colour and shape. Bright filtered light suits most species. Direct summer sunlight will burn and yellow the leaves.

Can I use any old potting mix?

Bromeliads will just about grow in or on anything from rocks to peat bogs provided the mix drains well and does not break down too quickly and become sour. A good quality Orchid Mix is generally recommended.

How do I water them?

When watering be sure to water thoroughly (not just splashing lightly) washing the center of the plants and thoroughly soak the mix. This stops the build up of salts and chemicals found in water supplies. During winter months water only in the early mornings on clear days. This allows the plants to dry off before the onset of cold nights. During the warm summer months plants can be watered every couple of days, with misting every morning.

Pests.

Apart from minor damage from chewing insects bromeliads are relatively pest free. These insects can be removed by hand or controlled by using non-toxic insecticides.

Caution prior to using insecticides
Consult the manufacturer’s instructions and take necessary steps to avoid poisoning. Scale or mealy bugs can be contained by spraying or dipping the plants in a product called ‘Clensel’ which is pyrethrum based. Small infestations of mealy bug may be controlled by applying Metholated Spirits with a cotton bud.

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