Bromeliads are members of the Bromeliaceae plant family. They typically have striking, sword-shaped leaves and a bright, unusual-looking bloom, which is actually a bract surrounding an insignificant flower. They hail from tropical rainforests, where they grow naturally on the bark of trees, rather than in the ground. Their roots are used to grip on to their host, and they get moisture from a central ‘tank’ or ‘vase’ in the middle of the rosette of leaves that fills with water whenever it rains. In the wild, frogs sometimes raise their young in these tanks.
In Ireland, bromeliads are grown as house plants. Bromeliads do best in a warm room with plenty of bright light. They need watering via their central ‘vase’, which should be kept topped up at all times. They’re sensitive to the chemicals in tap water, so ideally use collected rainwater if possible. Alternatively, leave tap water standing for 24 hours so that some of the chemicals can escape as gases, or boil and cool tap water. The plant will die back when it has flowered, but it should produce new plants, called ‘pups’, at the base, which can be potted up to grow into new plants. Bromeliads like humidity so moist the leaves regularly.