University of Florida

Bromeliads

Bromeliads are standouts for their bold, often colorful leaves and for the exotic flower spikes that many bromeliads produce.

Most bromeliads are tropical or subtropical and can be grown outdoors in frost-free areas of Florida. If you live in North Florida, you can opt to grow bromeliads in containers and bring them in when frost threatens.

Bromeliads can also be grown indoors as houseplants in any space that receives bright, diffused light but not direct sun, including covered porches.

Light

The main thing to consider when choosing a bromeliad is the amount of light your spot receives. Bromeliads come from a wide range of environments, from areas with deep shade to full sun, so chances are good that you can find a bromeliad suitable for your site.

The amount of light can affect a bromeliad's leaf color, leaf shape, and growth rate. Light levels that are too low for the variety will lead to leaves that are long, thin, and greener in color. Light levels that are too high will make leaves grow shorter, thicker, and lighter in color.

If you have a particular bromeliad and aren't sure how much light it needs, talk to the staff at your local Extension office.

Water

Moisture is also important. Bromeliads absorb water and nutrients mainly through their leaves and through the cups at the base of their leaves. Many bromeliads are from tropical areas and prefer high humidity conditions. However, take care not to overwater since bromeliads don't like wet feet.

Planting

Compared with other garden plants, bromeliads have limited root systems that serve mainly as anchors for the plant. It is best to provide bromeliads with a loose, well-drained potting mix, for example one part peat, one part bark, and one part coarse sand.

Pests

Although the bromeliad is a fairly pest-free plant, scale and mealy bug insects can sometimes be a problem. Your county Extension office can provide safe and effective management information

If you're growing bromeliads outdoors, you should periodically flush the natural cups that collect water at the base of the leaf rosettes. These can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.