Plants & Flowers

> View All Articles

Bromeliad planting and growing


July 27, 2022


Searles Gardening Team

Bromeliads have charmed gardeners, from all the varying climates around the world, with their array of different habits, flower spikes and leaf shapes, most displaying fluorescent colours which add a touch of exotic and tropic to any garden.

Under the bromeliad umbrella, you will hear the names of aechema, vriesea, guzmania, neoregelia, billbergia, tillandsia, to name a few. All are distinct and similar in the way they like to grow happily. Some, like tillandsia, are epiphytes, needing no soil and grow in a fork of a tree or on a log, where the occasional rainfall and leaf litter are all the nutrients they generally need.

Bromeliad - Aechmea fasciata


Bromeliad - Neoregelia


Bromeliad - Guzmania

Planting bromeliads

Most bromeliads need shelter from full sun and medium to hard frost. Shade under tree canopies and buildings and undercover patios are suitable. When planting bromeliads in pots or into the garden, they prefer an open, well-drained soil mix. Searles Cymbidium and Bromeliad Specialty Mix will give them up to 9 months of nutrients, ideal drainage and soil support to boost their rigid leaf structure and flower spikes.  This mix is also perfect for cymbidium orchids, anthuriums, vireya and carnivorous plants.

Watering bromeliads

The well in the centre of a bromeliad is often referred to as a tank and holds water to keep the plant alive.  This tank can also be a delightful home for frogs and other charming creatures. However, this tank may also become home to mosquito larvae that can use the stagnant water as a breeding pond. When you study the tanks closely you may see the wrigglers that are the hatched eggs that a female mosquito has deposited into the water.  These wrigglers eventually turn into the not so enjoyable mosquitoes. Depending on the species of the mosquito and region it is in, from egg to flying pest can take between seven to fourteen days.

All is not lost, as frogs and birds are happy to feast upon these tasty treats and it is not unusual to have a huge frog population in your bromeliad gardens and not be inundated with mosquitos. In this environment, they have all the water and food sources. You may like to go on a hunt to count the different types of frogs, or identify them by their calls, which can be a pleasant evening’s activity.

If you want to grow your wildlife population and not get eaten alive by mosquitos before reaching for chemical control, try tipping out the water regularly if the bromeliad is in a pot and is light enough to handle. If the plant is in a large pot or in the garden, flush out the tank with a hose when watering but remember you must refill the tank for the plant’s health.

Bromeliad - Billbergia nutans Queens Tears


Bromeliad vriesea - tropical plant Australia

Fertilising bromeliads

When tipping out or flushing out the water, you are also tipping out the plants’ nutrient source. It is important to replenish the plant's food by using a fertiliser such as SeaMax Organic Fertiliser Liquid or Flourish Soluble Plant Food - Indoor & Greening. Always fertilise around the soil and not directly into the well or tank, as directly into the tank may be too overwhelming for the plant.  When bromeliads are fertilised too much, they lose their red, orange, and pink tones, turn green, and simply grow bigger.  We usually buy the bromeliads for their spectacular colours, and it is a shame to squander that with fertilising incorrectly.