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Why Is My Bromeliad Plant Turning Brown & Looking Sick?

Is your bromeliad plant turning brown & looking sad? There are many reasons why a houseplant turns brown but in the case of bromeliads, there's 1 that stands out. Here's what you can do.

grey green bromeliads with brownish centers are lined up on the ground the text reads Why Is My Bromeliad Plant Turning Brown & Looking Sick? There’s 1 Reason Which Stands Out.Why Is My Bromeliad Plant Turning Brown and Looking Sick? There's 1 Reason Which Stands Out_new

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.

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.

a guzmania bromeliad in a purple pot sits on a blue wrought iron patio table. The plant is dying out & 2 pups have emerged. There is a red flowering plant on the ground behind it

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.

guzmania bromeliad leaves are lying on a tiled walkway. they have big brown spots on them_new

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.

2 guzmania pups still attached to the mother plant are in a purple pot. a knife with a red handle sits in front of the pot_new

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.

a close up of a neoregelia bromeliad. the leaves are green with a rose colored center (1)_new

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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  1. Martha Estabridis

    I also love Bromelias , but is very hard to me to keep them clean when I spray water in its leaves (water leave one night resting in order that salts and minerals goes to the end of the recipient )
    when the water dries the leaves have a very ugly white marks I hate them
    If you can give the way I can avoid I will be very happy
    Thanks a lot

  2. Hi Martha – You can clean them with distilled or purified water to avoid those white marks. Nell

  3. Hi Nell
    I love your posts. I’m new to Bromiliads so am concerned I should not have bought them In the first place due to my living in Melbourne Victoria Australia with low temperatures in the winter.
    My Broms are dying off at the tips but don’t have any pups this is concerning me because I have them under my covered deck which gets down to as low as 5deg Celsius in winter. I had them inside but the house is very dark so I had no alternative to move them in an effort to keep them alive.
    Could spending winter on the deck kill them off. I keep the well low and allow the water to dry out before re watering I don’t water the roots. The flowers are looking beautiful but the brown leaves and no pups is a worry.
    Kind regards

  4. This was soooo helpful! I was super worried i was killing my first bromeliad, so knowing it was normal was a relief. Its got three little offshoots, so proud.

  5. Thank you Julie. When I lived in Santa Barbara CA I grew them outdoors directly in the garden. The temps in winter dipped low like yours. They did fine. Common causes for brown tips are due to dry air, over fertilizing, plant too dry or too much sun. Nell

  6. Hi – I’m soooo glad!! It’s the nature of this plant & nothing you’ve done wrong I just cut away my dying Guzmania mother plant today. Now the pups have room & light to grow. Nell

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