I get asked “why is my bromeliad plant turning brown” and “why is my bromeliad looking sick” every now and then. It’s time to do a post which addresses these concerns because there’s 1 reason which stands out above the others.
There are many things which can cause houseplants (or plants in general) to turn brown. Here are a few reasons: too dry, too wet, too much sun or your water is too high in salts and minerals.
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My answer to “why is my bromeliad plant turning brown”:
In the case of bromeliads, if the leaves are turning brown and/or drooping, it’s because the mother plant is dying. It’s part of the lifecycle of a bromeliad – the mother plant dies out and the pups (a term used for babies in the plant world) carry on. These pups usually appear before the mother even starts to die out.
I’ve presented this fact before in all the posts and videos I’ve done on bromeliads but you may have missed it amongst all the care info. That, along with the fact that my guzmania was dying out, prompted me to do a post dedicated to this topic.
Guzmanias are extremely popular because of their tall, showy flowers. Mine was dying out so here’s what that looks like. I didn’t take a before pic but this was taken after half the leaves had been cut off.
So you’ve brought your beautiful bromeliad home from the store or garden center and found just the right spot for it. The flower starts to turn brown after a few months, completely dies and you cut it off. Eventually you notice that the plant is slowly turning brown too. In the case of aechmeas, the leaves tend to bend and droop a bit.
If the tip of your bromeliad leaves are turning brown, no worries about that. These beauties are native to the tropics and the sub tropics so it’s just a reaction to the dry air in our homes.
One way you can be sure your bromeliad is turning brown because it’s drying out is to check the pups. If they’re healthy and looking good, then the plant is on the way out. If you’re keep the growing medium too wet, then the lower leaves will turn brown and ultimately turn mushy.
Here’s a close up of what the guzmania leaves look like as they’re dying out.
What you can do:
You can cut off the unsightly leaves 1 by 1, cut the mother plant back right when it starts to turns or wait until it’s completely brown and cut it back. I cut the leaves off my guzmania 1 by 1 and then when it was 1/2 gone, cut the mother plant back to the base (you’ll see this in the video above). This exposes the pups to more light and gives them room to grow.
You can either leave the pups attached to the base of the mother plant and let them grow that way, remove and pot up the bromeliad pups like I always do. I wait until they get to be a good size, at least 5″ or 1/3 the size of the mother, before taking them off so the roots are better developed.
What the pups look like after cutting the mother plant back – nice & green!
So don’t worry if your bromeliad is dying out like mine pictured here and in the video. It’s just part of their cycle of life but the pups carry on the legacy. Just be patient in regards to getting them to bloom again. with proper growing conditions, it takes 2 – 5 years for a bromeliad pup to reach maturity.
That’s why I choose to not save and pot up all of my bromeliad pups. I always have at least 1 recently purchased bromeliad in flower for that instant pop of color.
This is why neoregelias are my favorites. Out of the 5 different types of bromeliads I did the series on 8 months ago, this mother plant is still thriving & looking great.
Happy indoor gardening,
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Nell, the founder of Joy Us garden, was born into a gardening family and grew up in Connecticut’s countryside. After living in Boston, New York, San Francisco, & Santa Barbara, she now calls the Arizona desert home. She studied horticulture & garden design, working in the field all her life. Nell is a gardener, designer, blogger, Youtube creator, & author. She’s been gardening for a very long time & wants to share what she’s learned with you.