Best Soil and Fertilizer for Bromeliad

Bromeliad plant blooming
Bromeliad plant blooming (Source: Pxhere)

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.

Flowering Bromeliad in Premium Ceramic planter
Flowering Bromeliad in a ceramic planter (Source: Amazon)

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.

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. 

bromeliads-and-green-leaves
Bromeliad flower and green leaves (Source: Public Domain)

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. 

RequirementsOptimal Condition
Soil TypeWell-Draining
Soil CompactionLoose Soil
TextureCoarse and Porous
Water Retention Capability50%
Soil Temperature70-90°F during the days and 50-70°F during the nights
Soil pH level5 to 6
Soil MaterialHigh-quality potting mix of materials such as peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.
Soil Drainage 1-2 inches per hour
Supplementary NutrientsBalanced proportion of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (20-20-20) with micronutrients such as Boron, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Copper, etc

FertilizationEvery 3-4 months during its blooming season which is spring and summer only with a slow release fertilizer
Soil ToxicityChromated copper arsenate, fertilizer salts like aluminum and lead can lead to toxicity
Soil ChangeEvery 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.

Soil compactness explained
Good soil vs. Compact soil (Source: Forigo)

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.

Water Cycle and Soil Moisture Relation
Water Cycle and Soil Moisture Relation (Source: Free Svg)

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.

Soil drainage
                                                 Soil drainage (Source: UCANR)

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:

Essential Nutrients Description
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.

All Purpose Fertilizer NPK 20-20-20
All-Purpose Fertilizer, NPK 20-20-20 (Source: Amazon)

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.

Ph meter under plant
Checking soil with pH Meter (Source: Pixabay)

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:

DeficiencyEffects
PotassiumChlorosis caused due to insifficient chlorophyll
PhosphorousSlow growth and dull appearance
MagnesiumLeaves turning yellow
CalciumScorched 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.

Soil temperature range
Appropriate soil temperature range (Source: University of British Columbia)

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.

Materials Required

Any mix for Bromeliads must be well-drained and aerated.

MaterialsFeatures
PerliteImproves drainage, soil aeration
Peat MossImproves Drainage, Lowers pH
Pine BarkRetains Moisture
Fir BarkStabilizes Temperature, Retains Moisture
Cypress ShavingsLocks moisture

For recipes, refer below:

Recipe 1

  • 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
A person repotting and mixing soil for Bromeliad Plants
Repotting and Soil Mixing For Bromeliads

Recipe 2

  • 1 part peat
  • 1 part of pine bark to retain moisture

Recipe 3

  • 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.
White Fungus mold in soil
Fungus mold in soil (Source: Phys.org)
  • 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 MixFeaturesProduct Image
Miracle Gro PerlitePrevents Soil Compaction
Promotes strong root development
Improves drainage and aeration
Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixImproves Drainage and Aeration
Dr. Earth Gold Premium Potting SoilCan be used for both indoor and outdoor potting and container use
Sun Bulb CompanyContains 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. 

Woman pours liquid mineral fertilizer, in watering can with water
Woman pouring liquid fertilizer into the watering can (Source: Stocklib)

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.

Image showing lack of fertilizer symptoms
Lack of fertilizer symptoms (Source: Reddit)

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.

Fertilizer Burn in Leaves
Fertilizer Burn in Leaves (Source: Wikipedia)

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.

Nutrients Significance
NitrogenProvides energy, and helps in development of foliage and fruits
PhosphorusHelps in formation of new tissues
PotassiumPromotes root growth and makes the plant strong
ManganeseAids in photosynthesis
ZincDrives metabolic reaction, helps in growth regulation
IronHelps in photosynthesis and chlorophyll synthesis
CopperIncreases chlorophyll content
CalciumImproves growth

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.

Bromeliad leaves turning red (Source: Pixnio)

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 Fertilizer

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. 

TypeFeatures
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. 

Commercial Fertilizers

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.

FertilizersFeaturesProduct Image
Better-Gro Controlled Release Orchid and House Plant FoodVery slow release, just sprinkle and go
EarthPod Concentrated Bromeliad FertilizerFast and Easy to apply, stimulates root growth, boosts flower bloom
TeaDrops Bromeliad FertilizerGreat for all terrestrial and epiphytic bromeliads
Better Gro Bloom BoosterContains high content of phosphorus, encourages flowering and maximizes bloom size

Conclusion

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.

0 Shares:
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like