19 Stunning Types of Bromeliads to Grow Indoors
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The bromeliad family contains some of the most beautiful and exotic tropical plants that you can grow indoors. Despite their bold appearance, they’re actually pretty tough and many of them make for great indoor plants. Keep reading to learn all about 19 different ones that you can try growing in your home.
Table of Contents
WHAT ARE BROMELIADS?
Before I get into the types of bromeliads, here is some useful information that will be helpful in understanding your plants so you can best care for them.
There are currently 72 accepted genera (plural of genus) of bromeliad plants, with each genus containing multiple species, amounting to thousands of different species. This doesn’t count the numerous stunning cultivars.
You may already know and love some bromeliads, but may not have been aware that those plants belong in the Bromeliaceae family. These include air plants, or Tillandsia, and Ananas, the edible pineapple.
Most bromeliads, with the exception of one species that is found in Africa (Pitcairnia feliciana), are native to southern United States, through Mexico, Central America and South America.
Most bromeliads hail from South America, with the greatest number of species found in Brazil.
Bromeliad ecosystems range from tropical rainforests, hot and dry deserts, and even cooler, mountainous regions that get down to freezing.
There are many epiphytic bromeliads (usually growing on tree branches) as well as terrestrial bromeliads that grow in the ground in soil.
A lovely display of mounted, epiphytic bromeliads that I saw when I visited the Cleveland Botanical Gardens
All bromeliads have scale-like structures on their leaves called trichomes which help to absorb water. For species that grow in dry, arid regions, trichomes also help to reduce water loss and help protect the plant against strong solar radiation.
Bromeliads that have a lot of trichomes, usually the ones that grow in hot, dry areas, have so many trichomes that they appear a silvery white. Bromeliads that grow in more humid regions with more rainfall typically have smaller trichomes and appear greener.
Most bromeliads will only flower once, with the flower stalk emerging from the center of the plant. However, the plant will produce new plants called pups at the base of the plant. These pups will be nourished by the mother plant until they can survive on their own.
Eventually the parent plant will die off, but this process will be slow, so don’t be alarmed when this happens!
In general, since many are epiphytes, Bromeliads love to be misted. Not to increase humidity (because misting does not do this, contrary to popular practice), but to help water your plant. You’ll still want to water the substrate too. Many bromeliad have a central cup that holds water and should be filled with water at all times.
If you can, avoid tap water and use purified, rain, or distilled water for best results, though many bromeliads will be forgiving. This is particularly important for tank bromeliads that hold water in their central rosette. It will prevent mineral buildup.
Bromeliad plants also have a small root system, so be careful not to use oversized pots where the potting medium will take too long to dry out. They prefer staying in smaller pots, or to be mounted on a substrate. Mounted plants will need much more frequent watering than potted ones.
Here are 19 different genera of bromeliad, along with some useful tips.
TYPES OF BROMELIADS
An Aechmea fasciata that I raised from a pup and flowered
There are about 251 species of Aechmea, with the most popular to grow indoors probably being Aechmea fasciata.
These are considered tank bromeliads, meaning that the leaves form a tight rosette where water can sit in the central cup.
The central cup often is a habitat for small animals. The plant also receives nourishment from decaying leaves, insects, and animal waste that collect in the central cup of water.
Commonly known as urn plant, Aechmea fasciata makes for a wonderful houseplant. Urn plants are native to southeast Brazil.
The flower bract is a gorgeous pink, and the pink and purple flowers emerge from the large bract.
The flower bract on one of my Urn Plants
I have had many generations of these plants which have bloomed and produced pups.
These bromeliads need higher light indoors, so give them as much direct sun as you can for best growth, and keep the central cup always filled with water.
Be sure not to miss my detailed growing and propagation guide on Urn Plant.
Did you know that the commercial pineapple plant, Ananas comosus, is a bromeliad too?
The pineapple plant is a terrestrial species, meaning that it grows in the ground, versus many other bromeliads that are epiphytic and grow on tree branches.
Native to much of South America, the pineapple plant is easy to grow indoors if you have a window with full sun. Give your pineapple plant as much sun as possible.
It will benefit your pineapple plant to spend warm weather outdoors. They can get 2-3 feet wide, with stiff, sharp foliage.
If you can’t find a pineapple plant for sale, did you know that you can grow your own from a grocery store pineapple top?
Check out my blog post all about how to grow and propagate pineapple plant. It’s easy and fun to do, and I also give you tips on helping your plant to fruit.
The Billbergia genus contains about 62 accepted species. The leaves have spines on them, and their inflorescences (flowering structure) are usually pendent, dangle off the plant, and are brightly colored.
They’re easy to grow and generally tolerate neglect and dry air pretty well indoors, but increasing humidity is beneficial.
Situate your plant in front of an Eastern or Western window, or any window that get a few hours of direct sun.
Native to Brazil, the Canistropsis genus contains 10 accepted species. They are easy to grow bromeliads and produce pups readily so you’ll have an endless supply.
They are smaller plants, and the flower bract is beautiful and comes in yellow, orange, red, and pink.
The Catopsis genus contains 21 accepted species, native to much of Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
There is even one species, Catopsis berteroniana, that is carnivorous!
They can be harder to find than some other genera of bromeliads, and are more demanding to grow. This one is not a beginner bromeliad.
In general, Catopsis love high humidity and their light requirement vary depending on the species, with some loving full sun and others preferring shadier positioning.
You probably can’t go wrong with an Eastern or Western facing window. Being epiphytes, mist your Catopsis regularly for best results.
In general, they prefer to grow mounted on a substrate.
A Cryptanthus that I planted in my aquarium terrarium. To my delight, it even bloomed for me.
Cryptanthus plants are commonly known as Earth Stars because of their star shape and because they are terrestrial species of bromeliad.
There are 61 accepted species, and these are smaller plants that are popular for use in terrariums because they are moisture-loving.
This plant is primarily grown for its foliage and contains beautiful bands of gray or bronze on top of a pinkish background.
The genus Cryptanthus comes from “cryptos” and “anthos” meaning “hidden flower” since the flowers are small and held closely against the center of the rosette.
The rosette does not hold water like many other bromeliads do.
Native to much of South America, the Dyckia genus is terrestrial and contains 181 accepted species, and their rosette do not hold water.
The leaves are succulent and stiff and spiny. Unlike most bromeliads, Dyckia plants sends out spikes with flowers from between the leaves, versus from the center of the plant.
Dyckia bromeliads need full sun for best growth and will tolerate drought very well, though you should water well during the growing season.
Interestingly, after the plant blooms, it will not die after flowering, unlike most bromeliad species.
Native to Florida and throughout Tropical America, there are about 208 accepted species of Guzmania.
Most species of Guzmania are tank bromeliads, meaning they hold water in their central cup. The striking inflorescence has brightly colored bracts that come in yellow, green, red, pink, and purple and can last for several months.
These epiphytic bromeliads don’t need very bright light like some others, but a window with a couple hours of direct sun or so is still beneficial.
Native to Texas, much of Mexico and parts of Central America, the Hechtia genus contains 87 accepted species.
This is a very high light bromeliad that requires full sun in your home.
Be careful with this plant as many species have sharp spines. Hechtia plants often grow alongside cacti in their natural habitat, and can withstand long periods of drought as well as wild swings in temperature.
These plants are mainly grown for their foliage as their flowers are insignificant.
Native to Brazil, Colombia, the South Caribbean and Venezuela, there are 51 accepted species of Hohenbergia.
These plants can be epiphytic but are also found growing terrestrially. Many are native to sandy beaches and prefer full sun, and some other species do best in dappled sun.
Always keep water in their central tank, but rinse it out regularly to avoid stagnation. Rain or distilled water is best.
These can be harder to find unless you purchase from a specialty bromeliad grower. Many species can get quite large, so be aware of their mature size before attempting to grow them.
A piece of driftwood in my greenhouse. I mounted several Neoregelia bromeliads, as well as a couple orchids and a large air plant.
Native to South America, the Neoregelia bromeliad genus contains 116 species. There are many stunning cultivars and they are among the most beautiful bromeliads, and are easier to find than many others.
The leaves form a beautiful rosette and can be green, red, yellow, maroon, as well as with spots or mottled patterns. They do well in pots or mounted.
Neoreglia bromeliads have small flowers that barely rise above the water in the central cup.
The Hawaii Bromeliad Society recommends very light feeding, or even none, especially as the plant approaches maturity.
This Brazilian genus contains 46 accepted species. When the plant gets ready to flower, the inner leaves turn a beautiful red color, thus the common name Blushing Bromeliad. The flowers themselves are small and grow right out of the central cup.
The foliage is usually quite shiny and has spines on the leaf edges.
They appreciate high humidity, a substrate that never dries out completely, and a central cup that is always full of water.
Photo Credit: João Medeiros, CC BY 2.0
Hailing from eastern Brazil, the Orthophytum genus of bromeliads contains 67 accepted species.
Still pretty unknown, these unusual bromeliads grow in mountainous regions in Brazil on rock faces. Give these plants plenty of sunshine when growing indoors.
The Pitcairnia genus of bromeliads contains over 400 species. The natural habitat ranges from Guinea, Mexico, to Central and South America.
These plants are normally found growing as epiphytes in moist and shady locations. The foliage is mainly grassy. The tall inflorescence will produce flowers for months, but each flower only lasts a day or so. The flowers can be white, yellow, or red.
The Pitcairnia genus also contains the only species that grows outside of the Americas. The species Pitcairnia felciana grows on cliffs and rocks in French Guinea in Africa.
Indoors, keep these plants in brightly lit spaces, but not sitting in all day sun. Morning sun would be beneficial indoors.
There are 8 accepted species in the Portea genus, all native to eastern Brazil. Most species are very large. The only one that may be more suitable to growing indoors in a pot is Portea kermesina. This one can grow 2-3 feet tall with a bright red inflorescence.
Portea species grow terrestrially and in full sun, along the coastal regions of Rio de Janeiro. The foliage has large spines.
Puya raimondii, the world’s largest bromeliad
Puya is a large genus of bromeliad that contains 230 accepted species. The native range of the Puya genus is Costa Rica through much of tropical South America.
This genus also contains the world’s largest bromeliad species, Puya ramondii which can grow up to 30 feet tall and 9 feet across!
Found in high elevations in the Andes mountains in South America, some Puya species even grow in areas where temperatures drop below freezing.
There are only two species that are found in Costa Rica, and the rest are native to South America.
Puya bromeliads grow terrestrially in the ground and are not epiphytes. Many Puyas resemble yuccas or agaves in appearance.
They are very intriguing plants because some of them are considered protocarnivourous. This means that animals often become trapped in their spines and die. As they decompose, it provides nutrients for the plant.
Puya bromeliads need plenty of sun and water during the growing season, but need dry soil during periods of colder temperatures. This would make this a great plant to grow in cooler areas in the United States where it’s not warm enough to grow other bromeliads outdoors.
The sheer size of these plants makes it difficult to manage indoors, but they have the benefit of being able to be grown in areas that have temperatures that approach freezing. Here is a good link to Puya species and care.
Native to eastern Brazil, the Quesnelia genus contains 24 accepted species and it grows in a seasonally dry tropical biome.
They resemble Billbergia bromeliads and form stiff rosettes. Many Quesnelia species are spiny though, so beware!
Some of the most easily recognized plants in the bromeliad plant family are Tillandsia, commonly known as air plants. Most Tillandsia plants are epiphytic plants and their native range is anywhere from the southern United States to Mexico, Central America, and much of South America.
This is a large genus and there are 649 accepted Tillandsia species. There are two main groups of Tillandsias: xeric and mesic types.
Xeric types have larger and denser trichomes, which are scale-like structures or hairs that absorb water and nutrients. Xeric types grow in dry, desert climates with very little water. As a result of the dense and numerous trichomes, they usually have a gray appearance.
Some good examples of xeric type air plants are Tillandsia xerographica and Tillandsia tectorum.
Mesic types come from areas with much more rainfall, and these have smaller and less dense trichomes, thus giving them a greener or grayish green appearance.
One Tillandsia that you may be very familiar with is Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides). Spanish Moss is a commonly seen sight, often draping itself on tree branches.
Most species of bromeliads require frequent watering, and misting them once a week will not cut it. Check out my blog post on air plant care for more specific details.
Contrary to popular belief, they can not survive on just air, and actually need quite a bit of attention in the indoor environment, especially in dry air.
At a bare minimum, they need bright, indirect light but they will all benefit from windows with a few hours of sun indoors. More light also mean more frequent watering.
Like most bromeliad types, Tillandsias will slowly start a process of dying after they bloom, but not before they produce small plantlets, or pups, at their base. Over time, with good care, Tillandsias will form beautiful clumps of plants.
The Vriesea bromeliad is commonly known as Flaming Sword because of the brightly colored yellow and orange inflorescence. The inflorescence can last several months.
Vriesea species are native to Mexico and throughout tropical America. The genus contains 256 species. These are some of the most common bromeliads to find at nurseries and local shops.
Here are some very general care tips for bromeliad varieties:
- Since bromeliads come from very diverse climates, get to know your genus and particular species so you can learn about the individual care of your plant. Many come from tropical areas with warm temperatures, but some even come from high-altitude areas with cold temperatures.
- Most bromeliads will start a slow process of dying after they bloom. It can often take months or longer, but they will produce pups to keep the plant going.
- Most bromeliad plants are epiphytic, and they mainly use their roots for support on tree branches. They are not parasites.
- As a result of being epiphytes, good air circulation is very important.
- If you have a tank bromeliad with a central cup that holds water, always keep that cup full. Periodically change the water out completely to keep it from stagnating. Distilled or rain water is best. Hard water will leave mineral deposits.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on types of bromeliads. Do you have any bromeliads? Comment below. I’d love to hear!
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Bromeliad indoor plants – Photo
If you want to grow unusual, amazing exotic flowers at home, pay attention to bromeliad plants. They are easy to care for, but delight the eye with an original appearance, long flowering, evergreen leaves. In this article, we will introduce you to popular types of bromeliads intended for growing at home. According to the description and photo, you will definitely find a flower for your home, office.
Content of article
- Bromeliad family: plant in nature
- Features of keeping indoor bromeliads
- 10 popular bromeliad plants: names, description, photo
Bromeliad family: a plant in the natural environment
The beautiful bromeliad was first discovered by a French traveler, botanist Charles Plumier and named after the Swedish biologist Olaf Bromelius. The bromeliad family includes herbaceous perennial epiphytic plants that grow in the humid forests of the South American tropics and subtropics.
Representatives of the family, consisting of 3000 species, are divided into two groups: terrestrial and growing on trees or bushes. For them, the sources of moisture and nutrients are air and rainwater. Bromeliad leaves are collected in bunches or funnels. The inflorescence is often located in the center of the rosette, although some bromeliads have thick or long peduncles.
Flowers – medium-sized, collected in an ear or panicle, rarely solitary. Axils of brightly colored bracts are often mistaken for a flower, in which nondescript inflorescences are hidden. The fruits are represented by dry berries, septic pods, seedlings.
Features of keeping indoor bromeliads
Caring for bromeliads at home is simple. It is important to remember that in the natural environment they live in a humid warm climate, under the crowns of trees.
Necessary conditions for growing bromeliad indoor flowers:
- diffused light;
- additional winter illumination;
- draft-free ventilation;
- temperature – + 18-25∞С;
- constant moisture in the pan;
- humidity above 70%.
10 popular bromeliad plants: names, descriptions, photos
The most popular for growing at home are bromeliads, which are adapted to terrestrial existence. They grow well in special soil. Some inhabitants of the rainforest do not have roots at all, and therefore require special care.
The neoregelia genus includes plants that live in Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador. They have belt-like broad leaves with serrated or spiked edges. In the center is a light white or lavender rosette. When the inflorescence appears, it becomes rich red. Small flowers are collected in a brush and placed in scales of bracts.
Differs from other bromeliads in the presence of edible fruits. Due to their spectacular appearance, pineapples are increasingly chosen for home cultivation. In their natural habitat, they reach 1 m in height and 2 m in diameter. Two species are adapted to home conditions: pineapple bracts and crested. With good care they grow up to 70 cm. The narrow leaves of a herbaceous rosette plant are covered at the edges with numerous thorns. Flowers grow from leaf rosettes. Akantostahis looks great in landscaping, like an ampelous plant.
Most flower growers call it “earth star” because the exotic has no stem. The long wide leaves that make up the outlet taper towards the ends. They are painted in brown-red, green, white, pink, yellow tones, can be decorated with stripes, patterns. The edges of the leaves are usually wavy. The flowers are small, in leafy rosettes.
Spike-shaped inflorescence of the plant is formed in the inner part of a dense rigid leaf rosette with spiky-toothed edges. Even the name nidularium is translated as “nest”. An epiphyte without a stem blooms with large sessile flowers placed very densely. The red stipules decorating them look amazing.
These bromeliad houseplants are bright, showy and attractive. Surrounded by decorative dark green leaves, vriesia is a luxurious yellow, orange or scarlet colorful “feather” of the firebird. This color is created by bracts.
Professional designers value it for its many fanciful shapes and unusual colors. Small bushes can resemble a ball of thread, silver beards of gnomes, tufts of feathers, ears of cereals. Tillandsias are divided into two large groups: gray (atmospheric) and green (potted).
The first have no roots, hard leaves cover gray scales. They are grown in florariums, bottles. The second grow in the ground. Their leaves are collected in a rosette, and the inflorescences are two-row spikes.
Guzmania inflorescence looks like a cone. It does not fade until six months. Shiny, as if varnished, yellow, orange, red, white bracts 4-5 cm long look unusual. Leaves – plain or striped, form a dense rosette in the shape of a bowl.
Representative of exotic bromeliads has wide belt-like leaves. At the beginning of flowering, a tall straight peduncle appears from the funnel. Inflorescence – bright yellow or rich red, graceful, drooping. The height of the bilbergia does not exceed 70 cm. She lives at home for 5-8 years.
The pointed ends of the bracts gave Echmea a unique name, which means “spear point”. The edges of its soft leathery or dense hard leaves are covered with spines. Foliage color – plain or variegated. Rosettes bloom only once, in winter.
This is only a small part of the wonderful world of exotics. Now you know which plants are bromeliads, and you can create real “tropics” at home with bright luxurious flowers.
Plants of the bromeliad family
The Bromeliad family (Bromeliaceae) includes more than 2000 species of terrestrial and epiphytic plants. Most bromeliads are naturally found in the tropical forests of South America, they are also found in Africa and North America. There they grow on the soil and on trees, on fallen trunks and stones.
Guzmania was brought to Europe in 1776. This unprecedented plant has become a real sensation for gardeners. Breeders appreciated the decorativeness and attractiveness of bromeliads, as well as the fact that in this family, like in no other, there is a huge variety of shapes and colors of leaves and inflorescences.
In our country, houseplants from this family have become widespread relatively recently. Some species of bromeliads lead a terrestrial lifestyle and are not much different from ordinary plants. Such is the well-known representative of the bromeliad family – pineapple.
How houseplants grow cryptanthus (cryptanthus Otto). In terms of care, terrestrial species differ little from other indoor plants. They get moisture and nutrients from the soil. But since different species grow on a moist substrate in tropical forests or on the rocky soil of the foothills, and maybe on the seashore, their care is different.
Most popular bromeliads in room culture are classified as “reservoir”. Their narrow leathery leaves are collected in a rosette and fit very tightly to each other, forming a reservoir in the center. Under natural conditions, moisture accumulates in a funnel of leaves, insects get there and die, and organic residues collect. The plant receives water and nutrients dissolved in it from this reservoir, the root system is poorly developed and feeds the outlet less.
At home, you need to make sure that there is always fresh water in the outlet in the warm season, but when the temperature drops, it must be removed so that the bases of the leaves do not rot.
Most often, bromeliads grow on trees in tropical rainforests. Their root system is weak, serving mainly for attachment to a host plant or snag.
Epiphytic bromeliads are not parasitic plants. They simply settle on other plants, mainly on the branches and trunks of trees, and receive nutrients not from the host plant, but from the environment.
Guzmania, vriesia, cryptanthus, blue tillandsia, echmea, neoregelia are common in room culture. The rosette of bromeliads develops for several years, then the plant blooms (in some species, flowering lasts up to six months). After flowering, the maternal rosette dies off, leaving side shoots – babies.
The inflorescence grows from the center of the rosette. Flowers, as a rule, are not particularly beautiful, but tall peduncles themselves with brightly colored bracts look very impressive.
Atmospheric bromeliads are also distinguished by their way of life. They practically do not have roots, they settle at the ends of tree branches. Moisture, along with nutrients, is obtained from raindrops or dew, absorbing it by all parts of the plant.
How to grow gray tillandsias as houseplants. They are used in various compositions of aquatic and moisture-loving plants, planted in paludariums, florariums. It is very important for them to observe the water regime: maintain the humidity at the proper level and spray regularly.
Plants from the bromeliad family are often grown on driftwood – an epiphytic tree, creating bizarre compositions in the interior. They do not need a lot of earthy substrate, and atmospheric bromeliads can do without it altogether.
For placement on driftwood, plant roots are wrapped in sphagnum moss and attached to branches. You can also make small indentations in the tree, fix the plants in them, covering the roots with loose soil substrate and moss. The moss in which the roots are wrapped needs to be moistened regularly. It looks very impressive on an epiphytic tree Spanish (or Louisiana) moss – Tillandsia usneoides (Tillandsia usneoides).
Professional decorators often use plants from the bromeliad family, considering them a necessary component in modern design.
Petrophilic bromeliads, which grow in dry stony places, are very rarely found in room culture. They are grown in much the same way as cacti and succulents, placed on sunny windows, with very moderate watering.
The basic rules for caring for plants of the bromeliad family are as follows:
- For successful cultivation of all bromeliads, it is essential to maintain high humidity in the room at all times.
- Avoid overwetting the substrate. Good drainage in the pot is required. The soil should be breathable, it should be watered only as it dries. In all species, the roots rot easily.
- Most bromeliads require bright light but shade from direct sunlight. These are plants of the tropics, where even in the shade of forests the intensity of solar radiation is high.
- Require foliar spraying in summer. You can feed the plants through the leaves, replacing the water in the sprayer with a liquid fertilizer in a low concentration.
- Transplant is rarely needed or not needed at all.