Bromeliads are some of the most showy and attractive amongst foliage plants, while at the same time, being hardy and low maintenance - perfect for our busy lifestyles. They are, however, live plants, and a little care and maintenance can go a long, long way in ensuring you the get the best out of your brom.
What’s the best potting mix for your brom?
Potting mix for bromeliads must have enough substance to hold the plant firm and upright in the container, ability to retain moisture but enough drainage and good aeration to prevent root rotting.
It is a good idea to use a mixture of coarse granite / river gravel / crushed pine bark or shredded tree for good drainage and porosity, and coarse sand / potting soil / long fibre sphagnum moss or peat for their water holding ability. Broms rather like peat as it provides acidity to the soil mixture and bromeliads prefer a neutral to acid medium.
How much should you water it?
Water requirements for your brom depends a great deal on your type of potting mix (whether free draining or not), humidity, light, temperature and air circulation of your growing environment and most importantly, on whether your brom is being grown indoors or outdoors. A general rule of thumb is to ensure that you never allow the ‘cup’ in your bromeliad rosette to dry out. When the bromeliad cup is dry, it indicates that the plant has absorbed all the water, causing any salts or residual fertilizer to concentrate in the cup. This could damage the center of the plant and/or burn the leaf edges near the base of the plant.
Bromeliads grown outdoors require less watering as rainwater and moisture in the air provide the necessary humidity required for most bromeliads. If you use city water containing excessive salts, flushing of the plant periodically will reduce the chances of salt damage. If you are growing your brom indoors, it’s a good idea to mist the plant twice a week in addition to your watering, to prevent drying of the leaves from low humidity.
How much light does your brom need?
Light is extremely important in for bromeliads to achieve their maximum potential with respect to appearance. We have learned a lot about the light requirements of various genera by studying their native habitats and from our own growing experiences. Most plants with brightly coloured foliage require some strong light to maintain their brilliance; it has been observed that the beauty in most genera will be enhanced by providing them with more light than they would receive naturally. Early morning and late afternoon sun is best, and the plants would do well with some filter (shadecloth, shading net) when the sun is at its peak.
It is recommended that plants with colourful foliage being grown indoors be rotated every two weeks so as to receive enough adequate sunlight.
What kind of fertilizer would your brom like?
Usually, a small amount of osmocote (slow release fertiliser) added to the potting mix is sufficient to maintain a healthy appearance. Plants with beautiful inflorescences will usually benefit from regular feedings, producing larger and more attractive inflorescence. Fertilizing will also stimulate better propagation of all bromeliads. Instructions are provided with your shipment.
What about pesticides and fungicides?
Bromeliads are relatively pest free, but could be subject to scale and a few other insects. The most common scales found are the ‘flyspeck’ and the ‘palm scale’. The ‘flyspeck’ scale appears as tiny hard black dots on the leaves and the ‘palm’ as a softer gray or beige dot. Contact your local pesticide dealer for what’s available in your area and best suited for your plant. Systemic insecticide are preferable as they can be sprayed just enough to coat each side of the leaf in order to be absorbed into the system, killing all scale attached to the plant. This procedure takes a little longer to kill but is effective for a much longer time. Be sure to the safety precautions on the label when handling any sort of chemicals.
It is rare for a bromeliad to get disease-ridden, and any disease will most likely be caused by sudden and/or extreme inconsistencies in their immediate micro climate. Sudden drops in temperature, extremely high or low light conditions, mechanical injury or insect damage could cause a fungal infection. This will show up as either black spots or a soft rotting spot, sometimes with a yellowing centre. In such a situation, cut all of the damaged area away with a sharp knife and treat the plant with a good fungicide following directions of the manufacturer. Be sure to flush out the cup well after treatment and to disinfect your knife with a strong bleach solution to prevent spreading the fungus. As most plants grow older it is normal for the outer leaves to turn yellow and die. These should be removed to improve the appearance of the plant. Trimming of leaf tips may also be needed in your grooming procedure, especially if the plant is being grown indoors where the humidity is low.
Following these tips might mean you enjoy fabulous looking, healthy broms for many, many years to come…!
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