Bromeliad plants are known to be tolerant of harsh environments. You can deprive this plant of water, expose it to meager light and deprive it of nutrients, but it can still grow and even bloom in some cases. But can bromeliads tolerate acidic soil?
Bromeliads love acidic soils because their root system is less sensitive to pH levels than other plants. In fact, they prefer a pH range between 5 and 6. However, a pH level lower than 5 can harm the plant.
This article will explain why bromeliads love acidic soil and how to keep soil acidity within the appropriate range for this plant. Additionally, we will talk about the soil requirements of bromeliads.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Are Bromeliads Acid-Loving Plants?
Bromeliads love to grow in slightly acidic soil with a pH range between 5 and 6. However, extremely acidic soil can cause the plant to wilt and die. In fact, when the pH level drops below 5, the soil becomes poor in essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
If you grow bromeliads in neutral or alkaline soil, they will also suffer from nutrient deficiencies. In this case, the plant will lack minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and iron. These deficiencies can cause the plant to produce less chlorophyll.
When chlorophyll production is low, the plant will lose its green color and experience stunted growth.
Slightly acidic soil is the best choice for bromeliad because it allows the roots to absorb nutrients efficiently. This results in healthier, more vibrant plants that require less fertilizing.If you are interested in more acid-loving plants, check out the list in the following video:
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How to Increase Soil Acidity for Bromeliads?
If the soil of your bromeliad is alkaline or neutral, you can increase its acidity by adding some elements. The most common element that gardeners add to the soil to increase humidity is sphagnum moss.
Sphagnum moss has a pH level of about 4. When you add it to alkaline soil, it regulates the pH and makes the environment slightly acidic.
Besides improving the soil’s pH, sphagnum moss is commonly used in horticulture to improve drainage and air circulation. It does this by retaining moisture and increasing humidity.
Another way to increase bromeliad’s soil pH is by adding fir barks. This is an organic material that has been used in gardens to help to raise the pH of the soil. It has a pH of 4.4 to 4.7 and is a very rich source of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and nitrogen. It can be used in combination with other soil amendments or alone as a mulch around the roots of your plants.
While adding sphagnum moss or fir barks to the soil is the safest and most practical yet effective way to increase soil acidity, many other methods can help you perform this task.
For instance, you can add sulfur to your soil and acidic substances like gypsum and rock dust to increase their acidity. In addition, you can also use a mulch of pine needles or cottonseed meal to acidify the soil.
The only method that I would advise you to avoid for increasing the soil’s acidity is using an acid buffer such as lime. I do not recommend this because lime can cause carbonation and sulfate attacks on the soil. Additionally, lime reduces the soil’s availability of minerals such as zinc and iron.
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What Kind of Soil Do Bromeliads like?
Bromeliads like well-draining soil that is slightly acidic and low in organic matter. A combination of sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite can give you the best potting mix for this plant.
If you are already growing your bromeliads in an existing potting mix but want to make it drain better, then you can add charcoal, pebbles, and gravel to drain it better.
Pebbles and gravel work great because they have many air pockets. They hold moisture, which allows for the water to drain and evaporate. By adding these elements, you are basically creating a porous medium that allows for better water drainage and air circulation.
The best way to use these elements is to mix them with the soil before repotting your plant. This helps ensure that the roots will grow straight and healthy and will not be hampered by any loose material.
Finally, I want you to consider that even if you choose the best draining soil for your bromeliads, you may not get the best results if you don’t select the appropriate pot.
In fact, bromeliads require pots that are made of porous materials such as clay and ceramic. These materials allow water to drain from the pot quickly and the plant to remain aerated continually.
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Are Coffee Grounds Good for Bromeliads?
Coffee grounds would be suitable for bromeliads if the soil is neutral or alkaline. However, coffee grounds may hurt your bromeliad if the soil is already slightly acidic.
In fact, coffee grounds are highly acidic and may harm your plants when used excessively. Too much caffeine can cause the stems to twist and the roots to brown.
Generally, coffee grounds are used to fertilize acid-loving plants such as tea and citrus trees. In the past, I have always used coffee grounds to fertilize my plants. However, I recently learned that they are not suitable for all plants.
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Do Bromeliads like Epsom Salt?
Yes, bromeliads like Epsom salt and other salts similar to magnesium sulfate. It provides nutrients that bromeliads need to grow and flower well.
Bromeliads like these types of salts because they are high in sodium which is essential for the growth and blooming of this plant.
When adding Epsom salt to your bromeliad, you should consider that feeding your plant with an excessive amount of this substance can do more harm than good. Therefore, we recommend using only 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt and mixing it with one gallon of water.
You should also avoid using Epsom salt for extended periods because this can cause sodium buildup in the water and soil.
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