How to water bromeliads?

Bromeliad Basics: Watering

Author: Melanie Dearringer

Care and Culture

In this article you’ll find helpful information on the general water requirements for a bromeliad plant.


Your bromeliad is more likely to suffer from over-watering than under-watering. While their roots prefer to be moist, they can never be allowed to remain soggy. Water that does not drain properly through your potting medium can cause your plant to develop root or crown rot. It is often times sufficient to water your bromeliad once a week.

-Bromeliad tank

In the wild, most bromeliads gather water in their central tanks, or reservoirs. Only a small amount of moisture from natural rainfall is absorbed by the leaves and roots. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that you keep your bromeliad’s tank filled with water. It is important to flush the tank regularly as stagnant water housed in this area can also lead to damaging rot.

-Tillandsia loliacea

Some bromeliads, like Tillandsia, are not grown in potting medium. These air plants should be misted several times each week. You can also submerge the plant in water for a few minutes to allow it to re-hydrate. Tillandsias are hard to over-water as they aren’t capable of absorbing more water than they need to survive. If you do use the “dunk method” to water your air plants, you will want to be sure to remove all excess water between the leaves to avoid rot.

It is best to water your bromeliad with rainwater or distilled water. The chemicals that are present in some tap water can be damaging to these sensitive plants. Slow growth or browning of leaf tips are often signs of hard water usage.

For even more information on bromeliad basic care, check out these great articles:
Bromeliad Basics: An Introduction
Bromeliad Basics: Temperature
Bromeliad Basics: Fertilizer
Bromeliad Basics: Lighting
Bromeliad Basics: Potting Medium
Bromeliad Basics: Repotting
Bromeliad Basics: Propagation

Bromeliad plants are colorful, long-lasting (3 -4 months) and make great gifts. People always ask how to water them. This video will give you a quick lesson on watering bromeliads and see just how much water can bromeliads hold.

Bromeliads, in their natural habitat, grow under a wide range of conditions and will survive prolonged periods of drought. The general rule of thumb for watering bromeliads is:

Water well and allow to dry before watering again.

How To Water Bromeliads

Many of the bromeliads sold today are “tank type” bromeliads. The rosette of broad leaves creates a “cup” or “vase” in the plants center.

These plants hold water in the cup and leaf axils. Plants with cups should be filled, and not allowed to remain empty.

The tank should be flushed out with plenty of water periodically to prevent possible stagnation. This periodic flushing also prevents a build-up of salts left when water in the cup evaporates.

Water should be removed from the cup if the temperature is likely to fall below 40 degrees. Hopefully, this won’t happen to you inside. This practice will prevent cold damage which appears as a brown line across each leaf at the water level.

If you take care of Bromeliads indoors, you may need to mist the plant about twice a week in addition to your watering in order to prevent drying of the leaves by the low humidity.

FYI… Several pots of bromeliads can be put together into an attractive decorative planter to create a bromeliad garden, and when one starts fading, simply remove the pot and replace it with a new one. You can have color all year!

Bromeliads are like most other plants in that they will tell you when they become stressed from being too dry. Drying the plant out can cause permanent cellular damage to the leaf structure.

More On Bromeliad Plants

  • Caring For Bromeliads After They Flower
  • Growing Guzmania Bromeliads
  • 17 Tips For Growing The Neoregelia Bromeliad
  • Learn more about the Earth Star Plant (Crypthanus)

How Often To Water Bromeliads In Winter

In homes where the relative humidity is low (during winter months and in air-conditioning), plants must be checked and watered more often.

The quality of the water is important. Tap water can generally be used for watering the pots and soil area. Better results are obtained by using rain, distilled or reverse-osmosis water for the tanks or cups.

If you use city water, and it contains excessive salts, flushing of the plant periodically will reduce the chances of salt damages.

Bromeliads provide indoor color for months at a time and are generally carefree. Most of the problems encountered with bromeliads are usually associated with rot caused by overwatering.

By following these watering guidelines you should be well on your way to having a healthy bromeliad to enjoy for months and months.

Watering Bromeliads – Houseplants & Flower Care – Watering Bromeliads

Bromeliad Houseplants Flowers
Watering Care Bromeliads

Watering tropical houseplants, including bromeliads, can be tricky. Improper watering is the main cause of death with indoor plants. Usually this would be from over watering but if you are not caring for your houseplants on a regular schedule, under watering can also be a problem.

Bromeliad Guzmania
Red Flower

Advice that gives you watering intervals, amount of water, etc. without ever having seen your plant, are really not helping you. Having cared for thousands of plants as a “Plant Lady”, I know that the only way to determine if an indoor, potted plant needs water is to check the moisture level in the soil at regular intervals.

Every plant is different and only you can tell if your plant needs to be watered. I know you love your plants but too much love (i.e. water) can kill them! That being said, please read on, Plant Lover.

The root system of a plant needs air as well as water to remain healthy. When the root system of your plant is constantly saturated the roots will begin to die. Over-watering is generally caused by watering your plants too often, not by the amount of water given when you decide it is time to water your plants.

Proper watering of houseplants is vital for maintaining a healthy root system. It is vital for lush, vibrant foliage. So if you see signs of problems on your foliage, check your houseplants roots for problems.

To determine if your bromeliad houseplant needs water just insert your fingertip into the soil an inch or so. Moist soil will cling to your skin and is usually darker than dry soil. With larger pots you can pull out a little soil and squeeze it into a ball in your hand. If it is moist, it will hold together.

Learning the weight of your houseplants when they are dry and when they are wet can also help in determining if it is time to water. Just lift your plant immediately after a thorough watering, then do the same when it has been allowed to dry for a time. Notice the difference?

If you have a plant in large grow pot, it is a good idea to use a soil probe to check for moisture in the growing medium. These are not expensive and have the advantage of aerating the root mass as you use it, which is fantastic for your plant’s root system.

A good soil probe should be 12 – 15 inches long, made of aluminum and have notches in the side to pull up a soil sample. Moist soil will remain in the notches and dry soil will easily fall out.

Bromeliad Plant
In Grow Pot

A soil probe is one of my most used and most useful tools as an interior landscape technician.

With larger grow pots it is necessary to let the soil dry down much more than with a small grow pot. Use a soil probe and a good rule of thumb would be to water when the soil is dry in all but the bottom notch.

While over-watering is a big problem, insufficient watering or letting your plant wilt on a regular basis is not good for it. This will most likely cause browning or spotting of the foliage over time so be sure to check them on a regular schedule. Pay attention to visuals signs such as mild wilting, browning tips, etc. and you will soon learn how to gauge when your houseplants require watering.

Watering amount and interval for each plant is different and depends on a variety of factors. These include the type of plant, the grow pot size, the light intensity, the time of year, the amount of foliage, the growing medium, the micro environment and the overall health of the plant.

For example, a plant set next to an air vent is going to require more frequent watering than one that is not. Plants that have been moved to a new environment often use more water as they acclimate to new conditions. A plant with an abundance of foliage is going to require much more moisture than a very sparse plant. All of these things should be considered as you make the decision on whether to water or not.

The correct way to water any container plant is to water thoroughly when you water. You can immerse the entire pot and root ball into standing water until all the air has been displaced from the soil or you can top-water using a watering can. When using the top-water method, make sure to water until the water drains out of the grow pot through the drainage holes.

Plants should always be in a container with drainage holes at the bottom. Make sure that any excess water is discarded so the plant pot is not standing in water. Your plant should then be allowed to dry down as much as possible without causing your plant to wilt before it is watered again.

Neoregelia Bromeliad

One of the “secrets” of the interior landscape industry is that we work on a regular schedule. We visit each account on a certain day and we do not see those houseplants again until the next scheduled day. Most of the larger indoor landscape companies work on a two-week schedule. This is usually more than adequate for most indoor foliage houseplants.

So first you should put your own houseplants on a schedule. You can start with once a week and if you find your plants don’t need water every week, you can move to every two weeks. It is hard to say exactly how much and how often you will water your houseplants because this will vary throughout the year and throughout the plant’s life.

Remember that many plants are in a stage of no or very slow growth in the winter and should be allowed to become somewhat drier. I have had houseplants that did not need to be watered at all in the winter months, after a good soaking in the fall.

Pay attention to your houseplants and you will notice that as the daylight changes throughout the year, your houseplants water use will change accordingly. Please note that some houseplants use more water temporarily as heating systems are turned on in the colder months. Sometimes the water usage is higher throughout the winter months because of the heating system, especially if the plant is situated near a heating vent.

Thanks for visiting and come back soon as information on indoor plants, pictures and more are being added all of the time. I hope that your indoor tropical house plants and all of your plants and flowers are happy, green and growing because that is why I started this site

If you have questions about your indoor plants, you can send an indoor house plant question or visit the blog for indoor plant questions and answers, to post your own indoor house plant comments or questions or to share some of your indoor plant wisdom with others. Visit the Facebook Page, a great place to find a compilation of plant, flower, gardening and landscape information, trivia and even humor! Thanks again…

Beautiful Bromeliads

Related links: Watering Indoor Plants Lighting Indoor Plants Best House Plants Plant Pictures PlantAndFlowerInfo blog

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!

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.

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,

Caring for Bromeliads

In their natural habitats, bromeliads grow in the full range of light conditions from full sun to partial shade.

Many bromeliads are quite tolerant, but the variegated plants will often become solid green if they are given too much shade. Plants with soft green leaves usually need less light than those with stiff, leathery foliage.


Since light varies with geography and season, it is best to take directions from the specific plant. Plants that have been growing in shade or that have been traveling must adjust gradually to brighter light.

Depending on the variety, bromeliads will grow well in subdued to bright artificial light. Fourteen to sixteen hours of fluorescent light a day will usually maintain leaf color.

When the plants begin to bloom, move the plants to the area below the center of the tubes. Use your windows for large bromeliads and grow the smaller plants under lights.

Depending on the plant variety, the location, the light, and the temperature, bromeliads will need different amounts of water and humidity. In the next section, learn about the water and humidity requirements of these plants.


Bromelia, Aechmea, Billbergia, Neoregelia spp.

Like jewelry for your garden, a bromeliad can be small or large, subtle or spectacular, and it’s a breeze to grow.

These plants come in a rainbow of exquisite color choices – ranging from bright pink centers to all red leaves to zebra-striped foliage.

Welcome to low maintenance gardening at its finest.

This plant needs little more than the right location and a bit of water now and then.

These plants form a circular center usually called a cup. This cup collects rainwater and organic debris that nourish the plant.

From out of the cup emerges either a medium to tall showy flower – or there will be tiny flowers down in the center of the cup, as pictured above.

The taller flowers can last a long time – even many months – before fading.

Most South Florida bromeliads aren’t long-lived…they usually live anywhere between 2 to 4 years.

Once the plant matures and then blooms, it will begin to die and be replaced by the offsets – called “pups” – that have grown out of the mother plant.

It takes about 6 to 12 months for the mother plant to die,

By then the pups will be about half the size of the original plant.

You can remove pups at the base when they’re about a third the size of the main plant to encourage the original plant to produce more of them, if you like.

The pups themselves can be grown as new plants.

A relative of the pineapple plant, this plant may have spines along the edges of its leaves, so keep this in mind when placing close to a walk or path. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when handling.

Some varieties are epiphytes (air plants) and don’t even need soil to live. They can be tucked into the crotch of a tree or into palm leaf scars (called “boots), rather than planted in the ground. Ask the nursery when purchasing a plant if it will grow this way.

A bromeliad should not be placed where other plants overshadow it.

Large ones can be used as accents but small ones are low growing plants that may be overtaken by nearby greenery.

These may do better in a bed specifically for this type of plant.

One of the benefits of a dedicated bed is that you can move the plants around at will, without damaging them.

Their root systems are shallow, and sometimes removing a mother plant that has bloomed and died leaves room that can be filled by moving a few plants around.

Plant specs

Depending on variety, these plants will grow as low as 6 inches or as tall as several feet.

All do fine in bright shade, and some can take sun – even full sun – which can enhance their coloration.

Bromeliads do best in Zone 10. However, they make excellent container plants, so in Zone 9B they can be planted in pots and moved in during cold weather.

Growth rate is slow.

Plant care

This is a superb plant for low maintenance. Once planted, it needs little attention.

No soil amendments are necessary when planting…these plants have very little in the way of roots.

Be sure the area is well-drained – a bromeliad in a wet area will rot and die.

A bromeliad is a drought-tolerant plant – though it loves humidity. If nothing else, water during dry spells. Ideally, irrigate the area on a regular basis but don’t overwater.

Flush the cup occasionally to clean the area and remove mosquito larvae.

No trimming is needed. No fertilizer is necessary either.

Plant spacing

Place these plants 1 to 3 feet apart depending on variety.

You’ll need to leave some space for pups to emerge and spread out.

Come out from the house at least 2 feet.

Come in from drives and walks 3 feet.

These make fantastic container plants.

The pups will spill out over the edge of the pot and circle it like little satellites.

Landscape uses for bromeliad

  • front of the border
  • lining a walkway
  • naturalized under trees
  • surrounding small palms
  • accent in a mixed bed
  • grouped in a dedicated bed
  • foundation plant
  • pool cage planting bed
  • mobile home planter box

COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Coontie, foxtail fern, firespike, Aztec grass, cordyline and dracaena.

Other plants you might like: Ground Orchid, Purple Queen

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Watering Bromeliads: How To Water A Bromeliad

When you have a bromeliad to care for, you might be wondering how to water a bromeliad. Watering bromeliads is no different than any other houseplant care; check your houseplants regularly for their soil being dry. Most plants need water when they are dry unless they are a picky plant, in which case, you should have some sort of direction as to how to handle the watering.

The Bromeliad Water Tank

Bromeliads grow in a many different conditions. When taking care of a bromeliad, water it well. The center of a bromeliad is called a tank or cup. This particular plant will hold water in its tank. Fill the tank in the center and don’t allow it to get empty.

Don’t let the water sit for a long time or it will stagnate and possibly cause

damage to the plant. Also, salt builds up so it’s best to flush it out. You will also need to change the water frequently, about once a week.

Let the excess water drain in a drain pan or plate, and let the plant dry out before you decide to water it again.

Best Water for Bromeliads

If you can use it, rainwater is the best water for bromeliads because it is most natural. Distilled water also works well for watering bromeliads. Bromeliad water can also be tap water, but there may be a build up of salt and chemicals from tap water.

Bromeliads are tough, carefree plants indoors. They provide color to a room and any problems you might encounter can be fixed pretty quick because the problems are usually caused by overwatering or failure to change the water.

If your bromeliad is an outdoor plant, be sure to bring it in during freezing weather. If it freezes, there will be damage to the plant from the water in the tank.

Rewards for Watering Bromeliads

Healthy bromeliads come from being taken care of well. If you want to enjoy your plant for months and months, you want to be sure to take care of it.

Remember that the water can be rainwater, filtered water or tap water, that watering bromeliads should be done when the soil is dry; and that how to water a bromeliad is not much different than watering any other houseplant.

Phase Three: Stems, Leaves and Transpiration

All plants have stems. The main stem holds up the plant and carries water throughout the plant. Secondary stems grow out from the main stem. Leaves grow out of the secondary stems.

Green leaves are responsible for making most of the plant’s food. Chlorophyll is the green substance in plants that works with energy from the sun to help carbon dioxide and water combine to make food for the plant. Plants pull water upward from the soil through xylem tubes in a process called transpiration.

Transpiration is controlled by the moisture content of the air and soil. Only 1 percent of the transpired water is used in the growth process. Transpiration also transports food from the soil into the roots and carries it to the different cells of the plant.

As the sun warms the water inside the plants leaves, transpiration occurs. This warming causes most of the water to turn into vapor and evaporate. The water vapor escapes into the air through the stomata. The water vapor absorbs heat as it escapes, which cools the inside of the leaves. The roots of the plant draw up more water to replace what was lost. The water travels up the stem and along the veins of the leaves through the xylem tubes.

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