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How I Water My Bromeliad Plants Indoors

I've been growing a variety of bromeliads for years now, both outdoors & as houseplants. Here's how I water my bromeliad plants indoors to keep them looking good & alive for as long as possible. Find out how I water them & factors which are good to know.

a red watering can sits next to a red, green & white bromeliad plant. the text reads how I water my bromeliad plants indoors.

I’ve been growing bromeliads for many years, both outdoors and as houseplants. They did beautifully in my Santa Barbara garden happily growing 7 blocks away from the ocean where they relished the moisture from the coastal fog. I’ve grown them in my homes in New York City, San Francisco and now here in Tucson. A few questions have come my way about this topic so I want to share with you how I water bromeliad plants indoors.

Bromeliads are easy to care for both indoors and out. If you’re new to the world of houseplant gardening be sure to give 1 a go and you’ll be hooked on them in no time. Even though these pineapple relatives are native to the tropics and subtropics, they tolerate dry air and growing mix just fine. Just know that it’s much better to keep them on the dry side rather than consistently wet – rot will be their demise faster than you can say “aechmea fasciata“!

How I water my bromeliad plants indoors:

In a nutshell, I water my bromeliads every month. Here’s what I do:

I run water through the planting medium, whether it be moss or bark, & let it all run out the drain holes. You don’t want your bromeliad to sit in water. In the winter the frequency is more like every 4-5 weeks & in the summer every 3-4 weeks.

The urn (cup, tank or vase) gets thoroughly flushed out. This is the core of the bromeliad & is how the plant stores water in nature.

After 1-3 flushes, I put a couple of tablespoons of water in the urn – just enough to keep it slightly moist. In the warmer months, I keep it about 1/4 of the way full.

I let the water run over the leaves for 10 seconds or so. It cleans the foliage, & boosts the moisture & humidity factor a hair.

Here’s the watering can that I was using in the video. I have a larger watering can & a smaller 1 but this is a nice in-between size. The long neck makes it easy to get the water to where you want it to go!

close up of a green & deep pink neoregelia bromeliad plant

Here you can see how much water I have in the urn of my neoregelia. Not very much at all – just enough to keep it slightly moist.

Good to know:

You want to flush a bromeliad’s tank out because bacteria & mold can build up in there. That water is stagnant after all.

I let the central tank dry out for 2-7 days before putting any water back in it.

If you have low light & cooler temps, you’ll want to keep the tank dry or almost dry. Keeping it full in these conditions can lead to rot & that build up of bacteria.

In the case of the above, simply misting or spraying the tank & the leaves will probably be enough. And don’t water the planting medium too often; every 4 weeks should be plenty.

Bromeliads are susceptible to salts in tap water. You may have to use distilled water or rainwater.

Speaking of rainwater, when the monsoon season arrives here in Tucson, I put my bromeliads out to get a nice dose of rainwater. It cleans them off, thoroughly flushes the cup out & they love it. I snatch them in before the intense summer sun comes shining through because they’d fry.

Nell Foster standing next to a colorful bromeliad display

Hanging out with a bunch of bromeliads – their colors make me smile.

There are varying opinions regarding watering bromeliads. Some camps say to keep the urn full of water, some say to keep it dry, others say to water the medium every 1-2 weeks and others say every 1-2 months. It can be confusing so I just wanted to share with you what works for me. And I’m hoping it’ll work for you too.

How do you water your bromeliads? Inquiring horticultural minds want to know!

Happy gardening,

Nell-Foster-Joy-Us-Garden

 

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4 comments:

  1. Hi Nell. Thanks for this information. I water my bromeliad essentially the same. Good to know I’m in line with you. I would like to know how you handle the well when it flowers. I tend to use less water so it doesn’t rot. Do you agree? I also think it’s important to let newbies to bromeliads know that the plant only blooms once, but it will have a baby that will eventually flower. I had a plant for over 20 years. The plants that no longer flowered were still attractive since the leaves are so striking. You can use them as accents to other flowering plants in a grouping. Love bromeliads!

  2. I probably should have said I live in Manteca, California. We’re in the Central Valley. Temps get down to the low 30s (at night), 40s – 50s (during the day) during the winter. As high as 110 during the summer. I leave mine outside all year, but it’s on my covered deck and protected.

  3. I have a Bromeliad that has long variegated light & dark green leaves. The leaves are curling up. I have been misting it often but that is not helping. Is the plant dying or is there a way I can get the leaves to open flat again?

  4. Hi Connie – You might have a Vriesea. The leaves of a bromeliad tend to curl, lighten & yellow as the mother plant is dying. It sounds like the mother plant is dying. Nell

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