Are your Bromeliad plant leaf tips turning brown along with a crown that looks gradually rotting?
Most likely, your plant is suffering from improper watering and screaming out for your help.
Generally, Bromeliad plants prefer watering once-a-week in summer via soaking or misting but just once in 2-3 weeks during winter/fall. Improper watering causes withering, drooping leaves, browning tips, and eventually rotten roots and crowns in Bromeliad.
Bromeliad plants can tolerate some dryness but are helpless against overwatering issues.
That said, severe underwatering can also damage Bromeliads to the point they become unsalvageable.
Therefore, read on to learn all about watering needs to avoid any unpleasant events with your Bromeliad plant.
Table of Contents Show
- How do you Know When to Water a Bromeliad?
- Signs you may be Overwatering your Bromeliads
- The Best Watering Technique for Bromeliads
- Factors that Impact Watering Bromeliad
- Should you Mist Bromeliad?
How do you Know When to Water a Bromeliad?
Regardless of the type of Bromeliad plant, they all exhibit similar tale-tell signs when they are thirsty.
But remember, many gardeners often water Bromeliad plants too much rather than leaving them thirsty.
Let us start with major signs telling you to water your Bromeliad plant immediately.
1. Browning Leaf Tips
If your Bromeliad plant is becoming more pathetic and leaves tips are turning brown, understand it is a scream for help.
Severe underwatering issues in the Bromeliad plant result in browning leaf tips.
Under drier circumstances, Bromeliads focus all their water content in the leaves center, leaving tips to brown.
Therefore, dehydrated Bromeliad plants have shriveled leaves with increasing brown tips.
Meanwhile, the leaves of Bromeliad turn brown when the plant is nearing its end after handing over its legacy to a new generation.
But if your plant does not have younger Bromeliads around and is turning brown, you can look for other underwatered signs to confirm the issue.
2. Crispy, Curling, and Dry Leaves
Prior to Bromeliad leaf tips browning, Bromeliad leaves begin to curl or roll up when they lack enough moisture.
In addition to curling, the texture of leaves also becomes crispy and drier as a sign of lacking water.
Therefore, if your Bromeliad plant is starting to lose its leaf stature, you shall increase the current watering schedule.
Generally, normal watering may not be enough due to increased transpiration in the summer which eventually leads to curling leaves.
With a little more water and care, you can easily help your Bromeliad retain its former glory at this stage.
3. Dry Leafy Tank
Do you know the crown or center of the Bromeliad is known as a tank or cup, which is used to hold water?
In their natural habitat, Bromeliad plants use water stored in cups when their roots can not supply water.
Therefore, if you notice a dry Bromeliad tank, fill it 1/4th or 1/2th with water and never let it go empty.
However, do not let the water sit for long, as it may harm the plant.
Meanwhile, tap water can cause salt build-up, which must be flushed out with more often water replacement.
4. Dry, Light, and Cracked Soil
Bromeliad plant prefers to have some level of dryness in between their watering schedule.
However, Bromeliad plants cannot survive in completely dry, crumbling, light-colored soil.
Dry soil often crumbles even with a gentle touch and can break apart from soil compaction due to severe drought.
Similarly, severe drought causes the soil to shrink and compact, which causes the soil to move away from the pot walls.
If your Bromeliad plant is in such dry, cracked soil, you must water your Bromeliad plants immediately.
Not only does dry soil lacks enough moisture and nutrients essential for plant roots, but they also invite bacterial infections due to soil compaction.
Remember, you must not push your Bromeliad plants to this point of dryness in any way.
Signs you may be Overwatering your Bromeliads
In contrast to underwatering, gardeners are most likely to overwater their Bromeliads.
Meanwhile, overwatered Bromeliads suffer more with much graver consequences.
Therefore, you must be careful when watering your Bromeliads to protect them.
Here, I have mentioned signs that your Bromeliad exhibit upon overwatering.
1. Browning and Yellowing Leaves
Under and overwatering issues cause the Bromeliad plants to form identical brown leaf tips.
So, it can get pretty bamboozling to distinguish what is causing brown tips on Bromeliad plants.
However, you can tell the difference once you feel the texture of the leaves with brown tips.
Underwatered Bromeliad plant leaves have a drier and crispy texture, but overwatered leaves are soft and mushy to the touch.
In addition to brown leaf tips, you can notice the stems of plants turning brown due to excess water.
Furthermore, Bromeliad leaves can lose their coloration and turn yellow over time.
Overwatering bears grave consequences to your Bromeliad plant as excess water also induces other problems.
2. Root Rot
Bromeliads strictly dislike having wet feet. And many Bromeliads are an epiphyte meaning their roots are more suited for clamping onto things.
Epiphytic Bromeliad plants do not depend on their roots to deliver water.
So, when overwatered, the soil is consistently wet, causing the roots to drown and ultimately rot.
Rotten roots of the plant result in decaying lower leaves that gradually turn brown and mushy.
Generally, rotten roots give off an unpleasant, foul smell and share a suspiciously mushy brown look.
Immediate treatment is a must for the survival of your Bromeliad plant at this point, as rotting spreads exponentially.
3. Rotten Crown
Another grave consequence of overwatering is the crown of the Bromeliad plant begins to rot.
A rotten crown causes the leaves to drop from the center of the plant and produce a foul smell.
Similarly, leaves tend to turn brown and soggy toward the base of the plant, i.e., the crown of Bromeliad.
Generally, crown rotting begins from overwatering due to simultaneous watering on the leafy tank of Bromeliads and soil.
Therefore, you need to avoid watering your Bromeliads via soil and tank at the same time.
4. Soggy Soil
Another visible sign of overwatering Bromeliad is soggy soil that looks darker and mushy.
Soggy soil stays wet consistently, causing no oxygen or low aeration for plants to consume.
You can tell if the soil is soggy by poking your finger or chopstick in the soil.
But do not get confused with recently watered Bromeliad plants, as the soil will stay moist for a while.
Meanwhile, soggy soil attracts pests, insects, and fungal diseases that affect the plant.
Therefore, you are drowning your plant if you see the potting soil with molds starting to hold up water too long.
The Best Watering Technique for Bromeliads
Do you know there are more than 3000 species of Bromeliad plants in existence?
Depending upon the variety and type of the Bromeliad, the best and viable watering technique also changes.
In general, epiphyte and saxicolous Bromeliads can supply water via their roots and leaves so that you can leverage both misting and watering soil.
But terrestrial Bromeliad plants only take water through their roots, so you must water them on the soil.
Here are some of the best watering approaches for your Bromeliads.
- Soaking Method: Fill in the bathtub and submerge the plant pot. Let it rest over water for a few hours, and take it out. Let the soil dry out in between the watering routine.
- Saucer Method: Place a saucer below the plant pot filled with water but replace the water after two or three days. This watering approach encourages optimal root growth of the plant.
- Filling Leafy Cups: Promptly fill in the leafy cups of the Bromeliads and ensure they stay moist all the time. Change the water frequently to avoid stagnant water, salt buildups, and bacterial growth.
Pro Tip: Use a moisture meter to measure the water content in the soil and water your Bromeliads accordingly.
Factors that Impact Watering Bromeliad
Depending upon the different physical environmental factors, the watering needs of Bromelias can vary.
Therefore, you must weigh in on environmental factors before watering your plant.
Here, I have listed some important factors impacting watering Bromeliad.
1. Type of Bromeliad
Bromeliad is a large plant family, so identifying the type of Bromeliad plant is reasonable to understand their particular watering needs.
Depending upon the Bromeliad variety, you can water them as per their needs without using risky generalized rules.
Furthermore, some Bromeliad species take water via their leaves only. So they require regular misting.
Meanwhile, most Bromeliad plants have a leafy tank as their water reservoir. And you need to keep them moist and filled with water.
2. Location (Indoor Vs. Outdoor)
Even identical Bromeliads can ask for different watering routines depending on where you have placed them.
Indoor plants receive controlled care factors such as temperature, humidity, and sunlight, while outdoor plants do not have such luxury.
Outdoor plants need much more water due to longer exposure to sunlight and heat.
Basically, you need to ensure outdoor Bromeliads stay moist and protected from direct sunlight for too long.
You shall consider watering your outdoor Bromeliads every 4 to 5 days during the summer while once every 2 to 3 weeks in winter.
3. Type of Potting Mix
Bromeliads, in nature, have three different growing habits with varying soil needs.
Epiphytic, saxicolous Bromeliads prefer fast-draining soil with medium moisture retention, while terrestrial Bromeliads need a light, porous Bromeliad potting mix.
Meanwhile, garden soil is a big no for your Bromeliads as they do not support well-drainage.
Therefore, you must use light, airy, porous soil that emphasizes well-drainage with average water retention.
If you are unsure which soil type is best, learn in-depth about the best soil for Bromeliads.
4. Seasons (Winter Vs. Summer)
Another major factor affecting the Bromeliad plant’s watering needs is seasons.
Bromeliads require once-a-week watering in summer, and you must let the top inches of soil dry before watering.
You might need to water your Bromeliad plants more often in summer, but do not stick to a hard and fast watering rule.
However, reduce the watering frequency to once in two to three weeks in the winter season.
It is because plants barely absorb water from the soil during winter. Therefore, the usual watering habits can become too much, causing overwatering issues.
5. Temperature and Humidity
Surrounding temperature and humidity around the plant highly influences the plant’s watering needs.
Temperature and humidity directly affect the plant’s transpiration rate, basically the water intake rate.
Increasing temperature means a faster transpiration rate, whereas higher humidity signifies a slower one.
Therefore, to balance out the transpiration rate, you must give your Bromeliads water accordingly.
When the thermometer keeps rising, give your thirsty Bromeliads comparatively more water, and the same goes when the humidity drops.
However, fetch your Bromeliad plants less water when it gets colder or more humid.
6. The Type of Pot
Bromeliads prefer to live in small-sized pots regardless of pot type as long as it has multiple drain holes.
Generally, terracotta or unglazed ceramic pots are recommended for optimal water drainage due to their natural evaporation.
However, plastic pots with multiple drainage holes supposedly work fine with Bromeliad plants.
That said, larger plastic pots can store water for a longer time in comparison to terracotta pots.
Therefore, you shall use a small pot that does not store water for too long and lets excess water out easily.
7. Type of Water
When it comes to the best type of water for your Bromeliads, rainwater or distilled is the most suitable.
But you can also use tap water left to sit overnight to water your Bromeliads.
However, excess chlorinated water can cause soil to turn compact over time, reducing water drainage capacity.
Furthermore, due to poor water quality, salt damage can develop in Bromeliads with a cup (Aechmeas and Neoregelias).
Therefore, you shall try using rainwater, distilled or chlorine-free water for your Bromeliad plants.
Should you Mist Bromeliad?
As I mentioned, there are epiphytic, saxicolous, and terrestrial Bromeliads. Depending upon the Bromeliad plant type, you may need to consider whether to mist your plant or not.
Generally, epiphytic and saxicolous Bromeliads need regular misting to keep their leafy tank moist.
However, you shall not mist your terrestrial Bromeliad if you already give them enough water via soil.
Giving your Bromeliad water via misting and soil at the same time can lead to overwatering issues.
You can mist your Bromeliads during summer as humidity drops below the recommended level (50% to 75%).
But too much misting on the plants kept in dark, moist conditions may suffer or give rise to fungal infections.
Therefore, ensure to mist your plant carefully during the morning hours in summer to keep them thriving.
Bromeliad plants are easy to grow but susceptible to graver danger even from improper watering.
To minimize problems, be sure to identify the type of Bromeliad you have before providing them with excessive amount of water.
Also, allow the soil to dry between the watering routine to avoid overwatering issues.
Do you know the Bromeliad plant bears tons of benefits when kept as an indoor plant?