The Bromeliad family is usually divided into three subfamilies: Bromelioideae, Pitcairnoideae and Tillandsioideae. It has about fifty genera, and more than two thousand species, widespread in the tropical and subtropical areas of Asia and America, with a single species native to Africa. These are perennial, evergreen herbaceous plants; there are some succulent species. They are generally epiphytes, but there are many lithophyte and terricolous species; they have a short or absent stem; the leaves are elongated, rigid and thick, in all the shades of green, even variegated, striped or banded; they are united in compact rosettes, which form a vase, suitable for containing rainwater, which plants are used during dry periods.
They produce small flowers gathered in racemes or spikes, always carried by showy, very colorful bracts.
They have a fairly contained root system, often even absent, so they do not need large containers or frequent repotting
The wide range of varieties belonging to this species does not allow to give a precise definition of the salient features of these specimens, but it is possible to say that most of these plants have leaves arranged in a rosette. All have large leaves and some varieties have thorns on the edges of the foliage, while others are succulent. Many varieties are provided with down on leaf pages, a factor that helps them retain water when temperatures are high and to counteract the effects of possible dehydration.
All plants of this type have a particular characteristic that distinguishes them which may be more or less evident; it is a central cup-shaped fulcrum that is waterproof and allows the plants to collect rainwater and keep it for periods of drought. Inside it, then, even small animals and insects stop to become a source of nourishment for the growth and development of the plant.
Being a genus that includes many varieties, there are plants that require very different cultivation techniques. The plants grown in the apartment are usually rather resistant hybrids.
Bromeliads are easy to cultivate, they need a bright place, but not illuminated by the direct rays of the sun for too many hours a day; they are watered regularly, but without exceeding, and allowing the soil to dry well between one watering and another: usually the glass made up of the leaves is filled. For better flowering, fertilizer is supplied for green plants once a month, in a quantity equal to one third of the recommended one.
They fear the cold, so in Italy they are grown as houseplants.
It is also advisable to vaporize the leaves with demineralised water to maintain the right degree of humidity.
Bromeliads: Pests and diseases
These plants can be affected by different diseases; if in the presence of water stagnation, they can show very harmful root rots. They can also be affected by red spider mites and cochineal. To eliminate scale insulators, if the attachment is not massive, it is possible to intervene promptly by manually eliminating the problem, with the help of a cloth with alcohol, or by washing the plant with water and neutral soap, to rinse with great care. For red spider mites it can be a good method to intensify the vaporization of water on the leaves.