Bromeliads consist of a large family of plants native to temperate North, Central and South America. These plants are quite unique in the fact that they can be found growing in numerous habitat types such as forests, savannas or even the desert. They can be found growing on trees, on scrub, on rocks or in the soil. This amazing life process gives these plants the ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions. However, if the grower has a general understanding of the needs of individual species or hybrids and applies them right, a plant can reach its full potential of size, form, color and general appearance. This can be done by doing a little research on the individual plant or contacting your seller for more information.
Watering bromeliads is somewhat unique in the fact that they take their water through the leaves and cups as well as the roots. The large broad-leaf varieties have large cups formed by the leaves. These cups act as reservoirs of water which the plants use as needed. Therefore, these cups should be kept fairly full most of the time. In their native habitat, Bromeliads use these cups for catching and storing rainwater as well as channeling the overflow to the roots. Under normal conditions water should be added as needed to keep cup well supplied but also allowing potting medium to somewhat dry out in between waterings.
The smaller, stiff-leafed Tillandsias are watered a little differently. They have small silvery colored hairs on the leaves which absorb water and moisture. Therefore, just wetting the leaves is sufficient. Normally 2 to 3 times a week is adequate depending on humidity and temperature. The easiest and neatest method indoors is with a spray bottle.
Bromeliads prefer clean water with a minimum of dissolved minerals. This isn’t always possible, but using higher quality water when possible will help your plants keep strong and healthy leaves and produce strong pups. DO NOT WATER FROM A METAL CONTAINER.
Rainwater: This is the best source of water if it is plentiful and handy. If you can, build a rain water collection system to store as much rainwater as possible. Be sure not to store your collectors where the water can be polluted though. Some roofs and drainage systems can contain pollutants that can damage your plants. Obviously this is not always going to be possible depending on where you live, but luckily you have more options available.
Distilled: The quality of distilled water is usually excellent because of the distillation process to remove the water from the impurities (much like nature does) instead of the other way around. This however can be expensive and bothersome because most distilled water is only available in 1 gallon jugs, and if you are watering more than a few plants, a lot will be wasted due to run off.
Tap: Tap water is adequate in most cases, but usually has chemicals and sediments which can build up on the leaves and in the potting mix. If your Bromeliads have white mineral build-up at base of their leaves, your water is too hard.
Softened: Do not use softened water. During the softening process, sodium carbonate is used to remove calcium and magnesium from the water. The high concentration of sodium ions that are left behind can damage your plants.
Remember, keep cups filled, but when it comes to potting medium, don’t over water! “When in doubt, let dry out” between waterings for best results. This will allow roots to thrive and therefore your plant to thrive.
An excellent video on bromeliad care can be found here: