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Popular Houseplant Profiles: B

Bromeliads

A flower blooms in the center of this neoreglia bromeliad
A flower blooms in the center of this Neoreglia bromeliad

Many Bromeliads have striking foliage and brightly colored flower spikes that can occur at any time of the year and last for several months. True flowers are insignificant; it is the colorful bracts that retain their brilliance for a long time.

Cultural Requirements

Light:

A bright sunny window (eastern light or western light) is best, with a few hours of sunlight per day. 

Watering:

Water moderately but thoroughly after about ⅓ of the soil dries out between watering. Many are able to store water in their tightly formed basal leaf structure. In this case, keep the central cup of the foliage filled with water but discard it after a month and replace it with fresh water.

Temperature:

Grow best between 65º and 72º F during the day and 50º to 60º F at night.  

Humidity:

A relative humidity, above 50%, is preferred to successfully grow bromeliads. Provide additional humidity by daily misting, standing plants on shallow trays filled with moistened pebbles and/or using a humidifier. 

Feeding:

Apply a dilute, liquid fertilizer to the soil, cup and leaves year-round but less in the winter.

Transplanting:

Repot bromeliads in spring only when roots completely fill their pots. Use a mixture of equal parts peat moss, sand and sterilized houseplant potting soil. Transplanting is best done every two to three years. As with all bromeliads, repot gently to keep the mixture fairly loose, as packing the soil will cause too much compaction for roots to grow.

Maintenance:

Allow any offsets that arise from leaf axils to mature as they will take over from the parent plant which slowly dies after flowering and can eventually be removed.

Special Note:

Spring is the best time to propagate.Take the young, basal rosettes that may have developed roots and transplant them into a 3" pot of equal parts peat moss and sand. Enclose the rosettes in a plastic bag under medium light to encourage rooting. Roots form in about 6 to 8 weeks; thereafter treat as a mature plant.

Begonia x hiemalis - Elatior, Rieger or winter-flowering begonia

Rieger begonia (Begonia x hiemalis 'Britt Dark'); photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ Serres Fortier
Rieger begonia (Begonia x hiemalis 'Britt Dark'); photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ Serres Fortier
 
 

Rieger begonias have large glossy leaves and double or single flowers that come in a variety of colors.  They will flower indoors year-round.

Cultural Requirements

Light:

They need bright, filtered light, with maximum light in winter.

Watering:

When soil feels dry to the touch, water thoroughly. Discard excess water after 15 minutes.

Temperature:

These begonias grow best at 70º F during the day and 50º F at night.

Humidity:

A relative humidity above 50% is preferred to successfully grow Rieger begonias. Provide additional humidity by misting twice daily, standing plants on shallow trays filled with moistened pebbles and/or using a humidifier.

Feeding:

Feed monthly with a dilute, water-soluble fertilizer (15-30-15).

Transplanting:

Repot to the next larger size pot in spring. Use a soil mixture of equal parts sterilized houseplant potting soil high in organic matter, peat moss and sand/or perlite.

Propagation:

Take 3"cuttings after flowering has finished and let them harden off for 10 days before transferring them into a light soil mix.

Maintenance:

Avoid hot and cold drafts. Pinch above the leaf node to promote bushier growth.

Special Note:

Rieger begonias do not like to be root bound.

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