At least once in Bromeliad gardening, you might face discoloration, and brown patches on the leaves, probably due to wrong soil and fertilizer issues.
However, this is the only beginning of the Bromeliad requirement for soil and fertilizer, as the article has a whole list. So stay tuned till the end.
Table of Contents Show
- What Kind of Soil does Bromeliad Need and Why?
- How to Ensure Ideal Bromeliad Soil
- Preparing the Soil/Potting Mix for Bromeliad
- Bromeliad Soil Mix: Where to Buy
- Common Signs that You are Using the Wrong Potting Mix
- Does Bromeliad Need Fertilizer along with the Soil mix?
- Best Bromeliad Plant Fertilizers to Use
- From Editorial Team
What Kind of Soil does Bromeliad Need and Why?
Bromeliads are widely found in the rainforests of South and Central America and grow on the forest floor or trees, gaining organic feed from the plant and insect debris.
A combination of peat-based soil mix, perlite, and pine/orchid barks can be ideal to allow proper drainage and aeration to its root.
The brief overview includes some other crucial requirements to remember while growing Bromeliads.
|Soil Material||High-quality potting mix of materials such as peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite|
|Soil pH level||5 to 6|
|Soil Compaction||Loose Soil|
|Soil Drainage||1-2 inches per hour
|Texture||Coarse and Porous|
|Water Retention Capability||50%|
|Soil Temperature||70-90°F during the days and 50-70°F during the nights|
|Supplementary Nutrients||Low-nitrogen or balanced fertilizer (20-20-20) diluted to 1/4th strength
Micronutrients such as Boron, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Copper, etc.
|Fertilization||Monthly during its blooming season in spring and summer with a slow release fertilizer|
|Soil Toxicity||Chromated copper arsenate, fertilizer salts like aluminum and lead can cause toxicity|
|Soil Change||Every 2-3 years|
How to Ensure Ideal Bromeliad Soil
Bromeliads, commonly known as Tillandsia, are practically air plants or epiphytes thriving on tree trunks in the native land but are not parasitic.
However, indoor Bromeliads grow on the ground and depend highly on the soil.
So before preparing the ideal potting mix, know about the properties Bromeliads demand from the soil.
1. Soil Compactness and Aeration
The ground soil is never an option for Bromeliad as it is tightly packed and dense and prevents 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.
Also, due to high compactness, water gets logged and forms puddles instead of percolating downwards, leading to the rotting of roots.
So ensure to use loose soil mixes like orchid potting soil or any mix that can drain excess water at 1-2 inches per hour.
For packed soil, you can increase the aeration by poking a few holes in the ground with the help of a blunt-edge stick without hurting the roots.
2. Soil Moisture
Bromeliads need soil that drains well but also holds some moisture at the same time.
Moisture retention capacity of the soil should not be more than 50%, or else it can cause soggy conditions leading to the yellowing and mushy appearance of the plant.
Further, pot material also plays a significant role in holding moisture, as plastic holds more water than terracotta.
And you should be aware that Bromeliads can handle drought conditions to some extent, so it is better to avoid overwatering conditions by only misting them weekly.
Ideally, you should water Bromeliads every 7 to 10 days during their growing season.
3. Nutrients and Organic Matters
Fertilizer is essential to Bromeliad for survival which they usually uptake from the water and soil.
However, do not choose fertilizer randomly as Bromeliad is peculiar about the content and formulation of the feed.
Remember, the feed should be slow-releasing, and the time should be maintained as they are not heavy feeders.
Excess fertilization may choke the roots with high salt accumulation and burn the leaves and cups of the Bromeliad.
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 soil’s overall health required for the Bromeliad to thrive.
4. Soil pH
For Bromeliads, you must maintain the soil pH around 5.0 to 6.0 as they are acidic soil lovers allowing the absorption of the required nutrients.
And phosphorous deficiency prevents the plant from blooming and stunts the entire growth.
So before applying any restoring methods, check the soil pH using a pH meter and amend the soil as per requirement.
Add elemental sulfur or organic materials to lower the alkalinity for highly alkaline soil while using limestone to bring the acidic soil towards the set level.
5. Soil Temperature
Bromeliad’s basic temperature requirement is 70-90°F during the day and 50-70°F at night.
But, make sure that the temperature does not get below 50ºF, 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.
Preparing the Soil/Potting Mix for Bromeliad
There is plenty of potting mixes available in the market for Bromeliads. However, we’ve covered you if you want to make your mix.
For recipes, refer below:
- Two parts of peat moss to improve 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
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.
|Miracle Gro Mix||Prevents Soil Compaction
Promotes strong root development
Improves drainage and aeration
|Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix||Improves Drainage and Aeration|
|Dr. Earth Premium Potting Soil||Can be used for both indoor and outdoor potting and container use|
|Sun Bulb Company||Contains graded western fir bark|
Common Signs that You are Using the Wrong Potting Mix
Although Bromeliads are low-maintenance plants, there are a few common signals they show due to problems in the soil.
- If your soil does not drain in 10 to 30 minutes, you have a problem with infiltration.
- Plant’s leaves start curling, turning brown, or drying up. It’s a sign that the soil cannot absorb enough water.
- The soil has a foul odor 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.
Does Bromeliad Need Fertilizer along with the Soil mix?
Using the appropriate fertilizer at the right time is crucial as suitable soil, as it enhances the production of flowers and the appearance of the foliage in Bromeliad.
Also, never put fertilizer or water over the cup of Bromeliad as it burns the foliage due to salt build-ups in the soil and promotes algae growth with faded color and leggy foliage.
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 pointing out 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 due to the 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.
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. They are slow-releasers and help to keep the soil quality intact.
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
You can prepare one for yourself with these easy steps.
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 wait for it to decompose.
- Repeat the process for a few months until the manure turns dry and becomes granular.
Plenty of commercial fertilizer options are available if you don’t want to wait and prefer a ready-made mixture.
Let’s look at the few best of them for Bromeliad.
|Better-Gro House Plant Food||1. 11-11-18 NPK Ratio
2. Very slow releasing
|EarthPod Bromeliad Fertilizer||1. 100 Concentrated Capsules
2. Fast and Easy to apply, stimulates root growth, boosts flower bloom
|TeaDrops Bromeliad Fertilizer||1. 16 Liquid Food Packets
2. Great for all terrestrial and epiphytic bromeliads
|Better Gro Bloom Booster||1. 11-35-15 NPK Ratio
2. Encourages flowering and maximizes bloom size
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 month.
- You can supplement them with time-release fertilizer diluted to 1/4 to 1/3 strength during the growing season.
Here are some Bromeliads genus-specific fertilizer recommendations for you.
- 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– Fertilize them every three weeks with a 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.
So, if you ever over-fertilize your Bromeliads, simply water the plant with 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.
Note: Do not fertilize your Bromeliads while they are dormant, as they require less or no fertilizer.
From Editorial Team
There are thousands of varieties of Bromeliads, and each has its requirements regarding fertilizer and the environment.
Bromeliads have a phenomenon of dying out slowly after a year or two of giving their first bloom. But they produce pups at the base, which you can use for propagation.
Besides, they respond to stress, such as too much or too little light, nutrients, and water, by producing several patterns and colors on the leaves, indicating the problem.