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Bromeliads, oh so many cultivars, so many leaf types, so many colors of bloom.  However the edible one is the pineapple….and here is a fast fact – Spanish Moss is a Bromeliad!!  According to The Bromeliad Society, Christopher Columbus was a busy guy 500 years ago and introduced the pineapple to Spain…although he found out on some of his other trips, that it was a standard crop in the West Indies. These days, the pineapple is enjoyed all over the world as a common, edible tropical treat and the moss is reminiscent of the Old South. We also enjoy them as blooming houseplants.

Most of the Bromeliads we see and purchase today  come from South America and can survive in conditions considered to be desert like, rainforest or even the cooler mountain regions.   The three common species are
Terrestrial (ground grown), Saxicolous (rock dwellers or growing best in rocky conditions) and Epiphytic (what we now call “Air Plants”).

Depending on the cultivar, Bromeliads like a variety of soils or if they are Air Plants, they would actually prefer to be grown on a piece of wood, bark, rocks or just being by themselves. The Bromeliads that are gown best in soil, need a soil that is fast draining, so that the roots do not rot.  Bromeliads do not require deep pots with abundantly rich soil.  Most garden centers will carry a soil that is specific to Bromeliad culture.

Grown indoors, these low maintenance beauties simply require indirect, mottled sunlight, 50 – 75% humidity, 75 to 90 degrees and never allowed to sit in standing water. In fact, most Bromeliads sold today need to only have the base of the plant moistened after the top 2 inches of soil  is dry, if the care tag states this …..that is pretty dry.  As this is a tropical plant, misting will keep the humidity in check around these plants. Some Bromeliads have leaves that form a cylinder or a cup.  This area serves as a reservoir for watering.  If you water in this “cup” like center, the plant will receive the water required to maintain a healthy plant.  Every so often, drain any leftover water or debris from the watering “cup” are to avoid rot.  Fertilizing with a liquid emulsion is an option, but generally Bromeliads require minimal fertilization. As you can see, this plant is easy to care for, providing it is grown in the optimum conditions.  KNOW WHAT SPECIES OF BROMELIAD YOU HAVE.  The air Bromeliads have a different care technique, than the terrestrial bromeliad’s.

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Usually, most Bromeliads will bloom once in their lifetime and then they perish…so sad.  However, they will develop young “pups” or baby plants under the lowest growing leaves. These new plants can be transplanted after growing beside the mother plant for minimally six months. The plant in this picture, my dad has allowed the pups to mature and grow in the same pot, as the mother plant has long gone away. Trust me – this is an easy care plant.  If you over water, provide air that is too dry or give it too much direct sunlight, your Bromeliad will let you know by developing problems  such as rot, brown tipping on the leaves, foliage fade/wither or excessive leaf growth.

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So eat that delicious pineapple, craft with that Spanish moss, hang that air plant  on something unique. However consider this – indirect lit room, a misting every now and again, the perfect cute low pot, and watering inside the cup of leaves……..Terrestrial Bromeliad – YOU CAN GROW THAT!!!

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