Rotting Bromeliad: What’s Causing It and How to Save Your Plant

Have you ever had a bromeliad that is rotting? If yes, then this article can help you. Read on to discover what causes bromeliad to rot and what you should do in this situation.

Let’s get started!

Bromeliad plant

Table of Contents

Why Are My Bromeliad Rotting?

The most common factor that causes bromeliad to rot is overwatering. In fact, when you give this plant more water than it needs, the soil becomes waterlogged, restricting the flow of oxygen through the roots. This causes the cells to break down and eventually rot.

The choice of potting soil can also cause your bromeliad to rot. If you grow this plant in poorly draining soil, water will sit in the bottom instead of moving freely. Over time, the soil will get saturated, and the roots will become unable to take up the necessary amount of oxygen, which causes them to rot and die.

Another cause of bromeliad root rot is the choice of pot material. When this plant is grown in a pot that does not offer air circulation or does not have drainage holes, the roots will have no choice but to rot.  

Drainage holes are necessary for growing bromeliad. They allow excess water to drain from your container. If you grow this plant without drainage holes, water in the bottom of the pot can collect and cause rot.

Finally, your bromeliad will rot when it’s infected by fungus. This microorganism causes plants to rot by feeding on the roots and depriving the stems and leaves of nutrients. 

If you are interested in saving a rotting bromeliad, watch the following video:

Process of saving a dying bromeliad

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What Does a Rotted Bromeliad Look like?

A rotted bromeliad will have a black, soft texture to the base in addition to yellow and wilted leaves. Also, root rot can cause bromeliad leaves to fall off easily when touched by hands. Additionally, bromeliad may experience delayed blooming when rotten.

Here is a list of all the signs that indicate that your bromeliad is rotted:

  • Discolored and Soggy Leaves: when bromeliad is rotten, the leaves may turn yellow or brown in addition to being soggy. Roots are fundamental to a plant’s health, so the plant’s growth is affected when they start rotting. This makes the plant look unhealthy and pale, and less attractive.
  • Leaves Fall off Easily: This happens mostly when the root rot is caused by overwatering. If your bromeliad has been overwatered, then this can lead to a blockage of water and nutrient flow through the plant. As a result, the leaves will wilt, fall off and eventually die. 
  • Delayed blooming: Root rot delays plants blooming because it damages the plant’s roots, affecting how it functions. It can make it difficult for the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil. In addition, it can also reduce the water flow. This causes the plant to become unable to produce the energy needed for blooming and supporting healthy growth.
  • Stunted Growth: Because roots carry water and nutrients to a plant, if roots are damaged, they will not be able to transport these essential materials, and the plant will grow slowly or die. Root rot causes stunted growth because roots are vital to plant health, and without healthy roots, the plant cannot absorb and use water or nutrients effectively.
  • Bad Smell: Because the roots are rotting, the soil decomposes. This creates many bacteria and other microorganisms that release ammonia into the soil and, therefore, into the air. This gives the plant a bad odor.

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What Do I Do If My Bromeliad Is Rotting?

Bromeliads that have root rot can either die or get better. If root rot destroys the root system, then you can’t do anything to save the plant in this case. However, if you check your bromeliad and you find that there are still some healthy roots within the root system, then you can follow the subsequent guide to save the plant:

Step 1 – Prune Away Any Damaged Roots: The plant can heal and recover quickly. Pruning the damaged leaves will also help stop any potential disease from spreading to the soil or the rest of the plant.

Step 2 – Loosen and clean the Healthy Roots: Use a brush or your fingers and gently loosen the bromeliad roots. By loosening the roots, you will quickly get rid of dirt and debris from them. Also, cleaning the roots removes dead tissue and other contaminants from the soil. Cleaning the roots also removes unwanted organic material. This allows the roots to absorb nutrients efficiently and makes them stronger.

Step 3 – Soak the plant: After you have loosened the roots, the next step is to soak the plant in a bucket of water mixed with Epsom salts. The Epsom salt will help keep the plant moist while it heals. Additionally, the water will help the plant to absorb nutrients and water.

Step 4 – Disinfect the Pot or Change It Completely: After soaking the plant, you should disinfect the pot from any signs of bacteria or change it if it does not offer drainage. To disinfect your bromeliad pot, wash it thoroughly using an organic cleaner and water, then let it dry.

Step 5 – Prepare a New Potting Mix: the best soil mix for bromeliad is composed of peat, sand, and charcoal. These elements will offer good drainage and aeration while holding enough moister for the plant to live on.

Step 6 – Plant the Bromeliad: after preparing the new pot and soil mix, carefully place your bromeliad into it. Make sure to add some organic fertilizer to the soil if you grow the plant during summer or spring.

Step 7 – Water the Plant: Once you have placed the bromeliad in the pot and added the soil, it is time to water it. Make sure to water it thoroughly using a gentle stream of water. 

Step 8 – Keep an Eye on the Plant: It is essential to keep an eye on your bromeliad during the first few weeks after changing the pot and soil. If you notice any yellowing or wilting on the plant, check for the causes and react accordingly.

How to Tell when Bromeliad Needs Water? Click here to get the answer

How to Prevent Bromeliads from Rotting?

To prevent a bromeliad from rotting, water it only when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. This will significantly reduce the probability of overwatering, which is the leading cause of root rot. You can also prevent root rot in bromeliads by growing this plant in well-draining soil and a pot with enough drainage holes.

A Healthy Bromeliad

Here are our top 3 recommendations for preventing bromeliad from rotting:

  1. Choose an Appropriate Pot: to prevent water from sitting in the bottom of the pot and causing bromeliad to rot, you should grow this plant in a ceramic pot or a plastic pot with drainage holes. 
  2. Grow Your Plant in a Well-draining Potting Mix: to ensure that your bromeliad will grow in soil that drains well, you can add charcoal, peat, and sand. These materials are excellent for drainage.
  3. Check the Soil Before Watering: You can perform this check using your hands or a moister meter. To check the soil using your hands, dig your finger deep into the soil and feel the texture. If it’s dry, then you can add water to the plant. If it’s wet, do not water it. To check the soil using a moister meter, place the probe into the soil at a depth of 6 inches and wait a few seconds. If the needle of the moister meter goes to the red zone, you should water your bromeliad immediately.

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Diana Cox

I'm Diana from I love to spend my free time in my garden. It's a place where I can be creative, feel calm and learn new things about life. I started gardening when I was in elementary school and it became a passion of mine. Now I love to share my love of gardening with others by teaching classes and giving advice.

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