Houseplants forum: Any one experienced at watering a Bromeliad.

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Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
Jul 19, 2016 11:14 PM CST
A friend at work just got a Bromeliad, it is a Cannistropsis billbergoides. I had one so long ago, I am afraid to give tips. Is watering the cup and letting the water sit safe for the plant. I googled this, and got a very wide variety of very different directions.
She has distilled water. Should she really always keep water in the cup, or do I believe it should be watered like any other plant? Thanks guys!

Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Jul 20, 2016 7:02 AM CST
Canistropsis billbergoides, now known as Bromeliad (Nidularium billbergioides) sure is a pretty one! If it's planted in soil (rather than mounted on wood as an Epiphyte) I'd say be very careful with watering. Most broms are fairly drought tolerant and if possible, the use of rain water is much better than tap water. Ordinary tap water often contains a lot of chemicals that Bromeliads do not tolerate. Be sure the potting medium drains readily and that the plant does not sit in water. Good air circulation and high humidity are also important for bromeliads.

Hopefully those who grow and are more familiar with Bromeliads will be along soon to offer advice.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~

Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
Jul 20, 2016 11:00 PM CST
Fat tired fingers, tonight. Thanks for the reply Lin. I think your advice is exactly as much information as we need at least for now!
[Last edited by lauriebasler - Jul 20, 2016 11:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
Jul 20, 2016 11:01 PM CST
Thank you Lin. We went and got some spring water, and she carefully watered just the cup. I don't like the look of the soil at all. I feel badly, because she was sure I would know all about this plant, and I really don't. The good news the light is quite nice, East and a soft south exposure. She won't fertilize at least for now. I just would love to see here succeed. It's a lovely little plant. Thanks for the response. Hope the plants are adjusting to the new house, for you. Have a great Thursday!
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Jul 23, 2016 7:47 AM CST
In nature, Bromeliads are epiphytic, meaning their roots are attached to tree branches and are not in soil. Thus, they are dependent on daily rains on their leaves and in their cups as a source of water. However, that changes when we take them from their native habitat and put them in pots. Then, they develop terrestrial roots that can supply them with water and watering the cups is no longer necessary. The danger of watering the cups indoors is that the water can stagnate and may cause the leaves to rot. Why take that chance?

If your friend's plant is already potted and is healthy, then the soil is probably fine regardless of what it may look like. Best to leave the roots undisturbed. The pot should be small so the the soil dries out a quarter of the way down about every week or so.

Tap water with normal concentrations of chlorine and fluoride are fine for watering the soil. However, if your tap water is hard (high mineral content), then it is best to use filtered or distilled.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
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Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Jul 23, 2016 8:30 AM CST
Actually, only about half of bromeliads are epiphytic. I am unaware of any scientific study showing an epiphytic bromeliad becoming a terrestrial bromeliad simply because it is grown in a pot. These plants have developed over hundreds of thousands of years and I would think that it would be difficult to have them change their genetic tendencies simply by potting them up. This may be so, and I am only a hobbyist grower, but I just don't find evidence to support that notion.

"Urn Plants" are incredibly easy to grow, inside and/or outside. My plants spend their spring and summer months outside, under large oaks and then come inside for the fall and winter months. While outside, I flush all my plants' urns out with water (from a hose) every few weeks. When inside, if they are in greenhouses, I do the same hose-flushing. If in the house, I take the plants to a sink every month or so, and flush the urns out. Between flushing's, I simply keep water in the urn, adding enough so that some runs into the potting soil so that it will stay slightly moist. I use potting soil that is made up of sphagnum peat, coarse perlite, and cypress mulch so that the mix is open and well draining. Though I don't know whether my bromeliads benefit from fertilizations, I do fertilize my plants with 1/4 - 1/2 strength, general purpose fertilizer monthly. My plants are very healthy and apparently what I do works. Of course, as I previously stated, one would be hard-pressed to find an easier houseplant to grow.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.

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