Bromeliads are herbaceous, evergreen, perennial plants well-known for their vibrant tropical colors. But did you know which Bromeliad soil and fertilizer work best?
Bromeliads are widely found in the rainforests of South and Central America and grow on the forest floor or trees.
Generally, Bromeliads prefer well-draining soil (pH 5 to 6), such as a mix of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. When it blooms in the spring and summer, it prefers slow-release liquid fertilizer with low nitrogen every three to four months.
Now comes the question of whether or not you can grow these lovely plants in your house, as well as what sort of soil and fertilizer Bromeliads require to thrive.
Continue reading to learn everything about Bromeliad soil and fertilizer requirements.
Table of Contents
- What Kind of Soil does Bromeliad Need and Why?
- Prepping the Soil/Potting Mix
- Common Signs that You are Using the Wrong Potting Mix
- Bromeliad Soil Mix: Where to Buy
- Does Bromeliad Plant Need Fertilizers?
- Best Bromeliad Plant Fertilizers to Use
What Kind of Soil does Bromeliad Need and Why?
Bromeliads belong to the Bromeliaceae family and have three growing habits: epiphytic, saxicolous, and terrestrial.
Epiphytic and saxicolous variants grow on top of other plants, ground, or rocks. Whereas terrestrial kinds grow very close to the ground and produce a dense cover
Bromeliads grow best in fast-draining soil that holds moisture and drains well at the same time. A combination of peat-based soil mix, perlite, and pine/orchid barks can be ideal.
Usually, these varieties prefer a soil-based medium and more direct sun, with some exceptions such as Cryptanthus.
Let’s look at the brief overview of Bromeliad soil requirements.
|Soil Compaction||Loose Soil|
|Texture||Coarse and Porous|
|Water Retention Capability||50%|
|Soil Temperature||70-90°F during the days and 50-70°F during the nights|
|Soil pH level||5 to 6|
|Soil Material||High-quality potting mix of materials such as peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.|
|Soil Drainage||1-2 inches per hour
|Supplementary Nutrients||Balanced proportion of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (20-20-20) with micronutrients such as Boron, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Copper, etc
|Fertilization||Every 3-4 months during its blooming season which is spring and summer only with a slow release fertilizer|
|Soil Toxicity||Chromated copper arsenate, fertilizer salts like aluminum and lead can lead to toxicity|
|Soil Change||Every 2-3 year during the spring time
1. Soil Compactness and Aeration
Bromeliads, commonly known as Tillandsia, are practically air plants. Such plants grow on another plant, but they are not parasitic on it.
They usually take moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.
However, Bromeliads that grow on the ground depend highly on the soil.
For the ones potted on the ground, you should avoid topsoil as they are tightly packed and dense and prevent adequate water drainage.
Even a soil-less potting mix can be too dense for air-loving Bromeliads as they require sufficient air circulation to thrive.
Bromeliads will become oxygen-deprived and fade in poorly aerated soils as they cannot breathe properly.
A lack of oxygen in the soil will also make it difficult for aerobic soil bacteria to reproduce and survive, which will prevent enough nitrogen from reaching the plant.
Here are a few indicators that your soil needs more aeration.
- The soil is rigid to touch.
- Water gets logged and forms puddles instead of being absorbed.
- Development of brown patches on the soil
- Abnormal growth of roots.
If you find these signs in your soil, you can easily aerate the soil with the help of a blunt-edge stick.
Simply poke a few holes in the ground with the stick to loosen the soil, avoiding harming the roots.
To enhance the soil’s quality, you can also add organic matter to it.
2. Soil Moisture
Soil moisture indicates the water content of the soil. Precipitation, temperature, soil conditions, and various other variables influence it.
Bromeliads need soil that drains well but also holds some moisture at the same time.
To improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture, you can add peat moss to the mixture.
The moss helps the plants grow by absorbing and holding water and nutrients in the soil.
Further, you should make drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. After your soil has absorbed all the moisture it needs, the pot will drain the excess water.
While trying to maintain the moisture in the soil, you should be careful not to overwater the soil. Bromeliads cannot tolerate damp soil.
You can always mist the plants once a week to ensure that the plant gets the necessary humidity instead of overwatering them.
Ideally, you should water Bromeliads every 7 to 10 days during their growing season.
3. Drainage Capacity of Soil
The most crucial factor for the growth of Bromeliads is soil drainage. The ability to drain water from the soil is equally essential to storing water.
The terrestrial Bromeliads, growing in rocky, barren conditions, hold very little moisture near the roots.
Bromeliad roots in the rainforest plant to a branch. Therefore, it is crucial to have light, well-draining soil that allows for optimum aeration.
Growing the plant in porous soil that allows oxygen to reach the roots is beneficial and may also aid in the prevention of rotting.
For plants like Bromeliads, terracotta pots’ absorbency makes them an excellent choice for containers.
Additionally, to increase the drainage capacity of the soil, you can add matters like perlite, peat moss, and vermiculite.
Such mixture will let out excess water at 1-2 inches per hour and help drain the water quickly.
4. Nutrients and Organic Matters
Nutrients are essential to plants for survival. These nutrients can be divided into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.
The detailed list of these nutrients is:
|Macronutrients (Primary nutrients)||Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Sulfur (S), Magnesium (Mg), and Calcium (Ca)|
|Micronutrients (Minor nutrients)||Boron (B), Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Molybdenum (Mo), Chlorine (Cl)|
Your plants can also benefit from fertilizers, particularly liquid ones specifically developed for Bromeliads or other house plants.
Additionally, nutrient-rich organic matters such as compost, aged manure, or leaf mold can convert poor soil into perfect soil.
Similarly, organic plant foods can improve the overall health of the soil required for the plant to thrive.
5. Soil pH
The measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil is indicated by soil pH.
For Bromeliads, you must maintain the soil pH around 5.0 to 6.0.
The pH of the soil gets affected by several factors such as the texture of the soil, soil bacteria, mineral contents, and climate.
The plant shows different symptoms if it is affected by low or high soil pH, such as:
|Potassium||Chlorosis caused due to insifficient chlorophyll|
|Phosphorous||Slow growth and dull appearance|
|Magnesium||Leaves turning yellow|
|Calcium||Scorched tips of leaves|
You can always check the pH of the soil with a pH meter to see if the reading is within the desired range.
6. Soil Temperature
Bromeliads are typically tolerant plants that can tolerate various temperatures. Maintaining the correct temperature is very crucial.
It is best to maintain a temperature range between 70-90° F during the day and 50-70° F at night for your Bromeliads.
However, they can also survive even higher temperatures if the humidity increases.
But, make sure that the temperature does not get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as it can be freezing for them.
Keeping track of the temperature is crucial since a low temperature can halt photosynthesis, and too high can halt mineral absorption.
You can always keep track of the temperature by using a digital thermometer.
Prepping the Soil/Potting Mix
There is plenty of potting mixes available in the market for Bromeliads. However, we’ve covered you if you want to make your mix.
Any mix for Bromeliads must be well-drained and aerated.
|Perlite||Improves drainage, soil aeration|
|Peat Moss||Improves Drainage, Lowers pH|
|Pine Bark||Retains Moisture|
|Fir Bark||Stabilizes Temperature, Retains Moisture|
|Cypress Shavings||Locks moisture|
For recipes, refer below:
- Two parts of peat moss to improve the drainage and lower pH
- 1 part of perlite for proper soil aeration
- Another 1 part of fir bark to stabilize temperature and retain moisture
- 1 part peat
- 1 part of pine bark to retain moisture
- 1 part peat
- 1 part of pine bark
- 1 part of cypress shavings to lock moisture
Properly understanding the material listed above is crucial while preparing the potting mix.
Common Signs that You are Using the Wrong Potting Mix
You’ve probably figured out that soil is vital to a plant’s growth.
Although Bromeliads are low-maintenance plants, there are a few common signals to watch for in the soil:
- If your soil does not drain in 10 to 30 minutes, you have a problem with infiltration. Bromeliads demand well-drained soil; thus, poorly drained soil will not suit them.
- If your plant’s leaves start curling, turning brown, or drying up, it’s a sign that the soil cannot absorb enough water.
- If the soil has a foul odor, it is again due to poor drainage, root rot, insect infestation, and a lack of aeration.
- Formation of white molds on the soil’s surface.
- The plant will develop slowly or incorrectly if the potting mix is poor.
- Development of rust disease, pythium,helminthosporium leaf spot, etc.
If you see any of the above indicators in your soil, it’s time to switch to a different potting mix.
Bromeliad Soil Mix: Where to Buy
Developing a potting mix from scratch can be time-consuming. As a result, you may always go for ready-made combinations that are readily available.
Here are some soil mix recommendations that you can try out.
|Soil Mix||Features||Product Image|
|Miracle Gro Perlite||Prevents Soil Compaction|
Promotes strong root development
Improves drainage and aeration
|Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix||Improves Drainage and Aeration|
|Dr. Earth Gold Premium Potting Soil||Can be used for both indoor and outdoor potting and container use|
|Sun Bulb Company||Contains graded western fir bark|
Does Bromeliad Plant Need Fertilizers?
In general, plants need fertilizers to replenish the nutrients in the soil.
However, in the case of Bromeliads, it does not need fertilizer to thrive except for a few varieties.
But using the appropriate fertilizer at the right time can help enhance the production of flowers and the appearance of the foliage.
Use low nitrogen 10-20-20 fertilizer monthly during the growing season, diluted to half-strength, or all-purpose fertilizer 20-20-20 and do not fertilizer in the winter season.
Never put fertilizer directly in the tanks of Bromeliad. Doing this can cause the foliage to burn and also cause the color to fade and the foliage to get leggy.
Signs your Bromeliads Need Fertilizing
Though Bromeliads are slow-growing plants and do not require a lot of fertilizers, they can suffer if left without nutrients.
Here are several indicators that your Bromeliad needs fertilizer.
- Lack of potassium results in soft foliage that appears tiny and pale.
- Leaves appear yellowish and have dark-looking veins, a sign of nitrogen deficiency.
- The plant’s growth will be slow even during the plant’s peak growing season.
- Leaves can have small patches of discoloration caused due to lack of potassium.
- Chlorosis is the plant due to lack of chlorophyll.
However, too much fertilizer can distress that plant, and it will soon show signs of brown spots on the leaves, yellowing leaves, and leaves will start curling naturally.
Like other plants, you should give Bromeliads fertilizers that contain all the required nutrients.
Look at the table below to know what each nutrient does to the plant.
|Nitrogen||Provides energy, and helps in development of foliage and fruits|
|Phosphorus||Helps in formation of new tissues|
|Potassium||Promotes root growth and makes the plant strong|
|Manganese||Aids in photosynthesis|
|Zinc||Drives metabolic reaction, helps in growth regulation|
|Iron||Helps in photosynthesis and chlorophyll synthesis|
|Copper||Increases chlorophyll content|
Types of Bromeliad fertilizer
There are two main types of application forms for fertilizer. One is water-soluble/liquid, and the other one is slow release.
Liquid Fertilizer: This fertilizer dissolves in water and is fed to plants for immediate use.
Slow-release Fertilizer: This type of fertilizer release an engineered amount of nutrients over a long period under certain conditions.
For Bromeliads, most people prefer to use slow-release granulated fertilizers.
As noted, you can lightly sprinkle balanced, low-nitrogen, or slow-release fertilizer around the base of the Bromeliad.
Using such fertilizer is suitable for an extended period as they do not automatically release its nutrients.
Procedure for Fertilization
- Mix the fertilizer directly in the potting mix before you pot the plant.
- For later application, lightly sprinkle the desired amount on top of the soil.
- 1/4 the teaspoon of fertilizer is enough for most Bromeliads during the growing season every four months.
- You can supplement the time-release fertilizer with a 1/4 to 1/3 strength dilute fertilizer during their growing season.
Here are some genus-specific fertilizer recommendations for your Bromeliads
- Alcantarea– Use controlled-release fertilizer around the root zone in the spring, such as Yates Acticote or Scotts Osmocote Plus Trace Elements around the root zone in spring.
- Cryptanthus– Fertilizer them every three weeks with regular Balanced Fertilizer of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 for optimum growth. But dilute to ¼ to ½ strength.
- Neoregelias- During the growing season, apply a top dressing with a low-nitrogen time-release fertilizer every other month.
Applying the wrong kind of fertilizer or over-fertilization can affect its capability to bud and produce flowers.
If you ever happen to over-fertilize your Bromeliads, simply water the plan with a lot of filtered room temperature water and allow it to drain completely.
Ensure that the central cup of the plant is emptied and wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth.
Like other plants, Bromeliads also enter their dormancy phase. In this phase, they require less fertilizer and water.
Note: Do not fertilize your Bromeliads while they are dormant.
Best Bromeliad Plant Fertilizers to Use
For your Bromeliads, you can use store-bought or homemade fertilizer.
While making your own can take some time, the results will benefit your plant’s growth.
Homemade Fertilizers are an eco-friendly and all-natural fertilizer option for your Bromeliads. You can prepare one for yourself with these easy steps.
First, let us look at the possible ingredients and their features.
|Eggshells||- Helps to lower the acidity of the soil
- Increases calcium in the soil
|Banana Peels||- Rich in potassium
- Slow-release natural fertilizer
|Coffee Grounds||- Rich in nitrogen but low in phosphorus and potassium|
|Green Tea||- Rich in tannic acid
- Great for acid loving plant
|Cow manure||- Contains nitrogen
- Gives an unpleasant aroma
Steps to prepare Homemade Organic Fertilizer
- Gather your desired materials, including dried leaves, straws, and twigs.
- In a compost bin, mix all these ingredients with water.
- Aerate the compost by turning the layers of ingredients using a wheelbarrow and waiting for it to decompose.
- Repeat the process for a few months until the manure turns dry and becomes granular.
If you don’t want to wait and prefer a ready-made mixture, plenty of commercial fertilizer options are available on the market.
Let’s look at the few best of them for Bromeliad.
|Better-Gro Controlled Release Orchid and House Plant Food||Very slow release, just sprinkle and go|
|EarthPod Concentrated Bromeliad Fertilizer||Fast and Easy to apply, stimulates root growth, boosts flower bloom|
|TeaDrops Bromeliad Fertilizer||Great for all terrestrial and epiphytic bromeliads|
|Better Gro Bloom Booster||Contains high content of phosphorus, encourages flowering and maximizes bloom size|
Bromeliads respond to stress such as too much or too little light, nutrients, and water and produce several patterns and colors on the leaves.
There are thousands of varieties of Bromeliads, and each has its requirements regarding fertilizer and environment.
However, most species have similar requirements; hence, the abovementioned specification works for most Bromeliads.
Want to know the benefits of Bromeliad Plants? Read the article here Benefits of Bromeliad Plants.