9 Types of Bromeliads for Growing Indoors

Potted green bromeliad on a wood floor

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

The bromeliad family (Bromeliaceae) includes many types that make wonderful houseplants. Related to the pineapple, there are more than 3,000 known species, categorized in about 75 genera native to subtropical North America, Central America, and South America. In addition to many native species, there are countless cultivars bred for sale. 

Many bromeliads are epiphytic plants (air plants), which attach themselves to tree trunks or fallen logs, absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air. When grown as houseplants, they can be mounted on pieces of bark or potted in a growing medium consisting mostly of bark chips and peat moss. Other popular bromeliad houseplants are terrestrial species that can be grown in ordinary potting mix. Still others are more like desert succulents, requiring a sandy, porous potting mix, such as cactus potting soil.

Bromeliads are tolerant of low light; can be watered from overhead into their central cups; and feature ornamental foliage and beautiful, if infrequent, flowers. Though quite spectacular plants, most are remarkably easy to grow. Although many bromeliads favor shady areas in their native areas, when grown indoors, most need ​relatively bright locations, such as in front of a window. Most also need relatively humid conditions, which can be a challenge when grown indoors in dry winter months. Keeping the pot in a saucer of consistently wet gravel can help.

Here are nine categories of bromeliad plants ideal for indoor growing.

Gardening Tip

Many people discard bromeliads after the bloom is complete, but, with a little experience, one bromeliad can easily turn into a whole garden of these great tropical plants. Small offsets of the original plant, called "pups," can be replanted to propagate as many bromeliads as you wish.

  • 01 of 09

    Aechmea (Aechmea spp.)

    Aechmea bromeliad with a magenta flower

    Aimin Tang / Getty Images

    The various species of the Aechmea genus are some of the most resilient and longest-lasting bromeliads, which might explain why this is also one of the most popular indoor varieties. The genus includes such beloved species as A. chantinii (zebra plant) and A. fasciata (urn plant). These large, beautiful plants feature striking flowers and bracts that can last up to six months before the plant fades for good. Luckily, they can be propagated.

    • Native Area: Subtropical North America, Central America, and South America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as houseplants
    • Height: Varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light; provide shade when grown outdoors
  • 02 of 09

    Guzmania (Guzmania spp.)

    Guzmania bromeliads with orange, pink, and yellow leaves
    Hiroyuki Uchiyama / Getty Images

    Guzmania bromeliads are available in a striking array of leaf colors, from orange, yellow, and red to purple and even white. The flowers, however, are insignificant. These hybrids will offer several weeks of color as tabletop plants, and, like other popular bromeliads, they can be kept as houseplants that will reproduce from "pups" around their base. Avoid direct sunlight.

    • Native Area: Subtropical North America, Central America, and South America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as houseplants
    • Height: Varies by species; most grow to about 24 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • 03 of 09

    Neoregelia (Neoregelia spp.)

    Neoregelia bromeliads with green-and-white leaves and orange centers
    DEA / C. SAPPA / Getty Images

    The Neoregelia bromeliads seen most often in cultivation are shorter than their showy cousins, as they don't have tall flowering bracts. However, these plants frequently have gorgeous foliage that can provide months of color. The species of this genus are also slightly more cold-hardy than some other bromeliad types, surviving temperatures as low as 40 degrees. The most common Neoregelia species is N. carolinae, which has narrow leaves that are often variegated. When in flower, the center of the cup turns red, and small flowers emerge.

    • Native Area: Subtropical North America, Central America, and South America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–10; usually grown as houseplants
    • Height: Varies by species; most are less than 1 foot
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • 04 of 09

    Vriesea (Vriesea spp.)

    Vriesea bromeliad with a yellow bloom and light green leaves
    Lisa J. Goodman / Getty Images

    The Vriesea bromeliads seen indoors are somewhat strange but oddly beautiful plants. There are both foliage and flowering types available, but the latter are much more common. These plants feature colorful, somewhat flat flower bracts with tiny, almost insignificant blossoms. The foliage is feathery and often variegated. Somewhat smaller, they're perfect desktop plants for low-light conditions.

    • Native Area: Subtropical North America, Central America, and South America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as houseplants
    • Height: Varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Tillandsia (Tillandsia spp.)

    Green Tillandsia air plants on a wooden table


    sKrisda / Getty Images

    Tillandsia is one of the larger genera in the bromeliad family, with more than 500 species. Most are epiphytes; in the horticultural trade, "air plant" is the more common name for them. Other Tillandsia species are terrestrial, and a few are saxicolous—growing on rocks. These bromeliads produce tubular flowers in violet, blue, white, pink, and yellow. They like lots of light (and will do well in direct sun) and require high humidity, 50 percent to 70 percent. In many homes, they need frequent misting to stay healthy.

    • Native Area: Southern United States to southern South America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 11; usually grown as houseplants
    • Height: Varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • 06 of 09

    Billbergia (Billbergia spp.)

    Billbergia bromeliads with a salmon-colored flower

    JMK / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Most Billbergia plants are epiphytic. But, when grown as houseplants, these bromeliad types are often potted in a mix that includes potting soil blended with bark chips and peat moss, which makes it easier to water the plants. The spectacular but short-lived flowers can be purple, blue, yellow, green, or white. The growth habit varies by species, but most have pointed leaves arranged in a rosette pattern. Others have grassy, cascading leaves. Some popular species include B. distachia, B. nutans, B. pyramidalis, and B. saundersii.

    • Native Area: Mexico, Central America, Brazil
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; some species tolerate brief frost
    • Height: Varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • 07 of 09

    Cryptanthus (Cryptanthus spp.)

    Cryptyantus bromeliad with brown and green leaves lined with pink

    Mokkie / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The Cryptanthus genus comprises mostly terrestrial bromeliads that work well as potted plants. Commonly known as earth stars, they have a unique growth habit that features pointed leaves arranged in low, tight rosettes. Although they have a reputation for being difficult, Cryptanthus plants will bloom throughout the year when pleased with their location. The real appeal, though, is the foliage. Depending on the species, it can range from dark green to bright pink to red and can be banded, spotted, or solid. With hundreds of species and cultivars in this genus, the variety is enormous.

    • Native Area: Tropical Central America and South America, especially Brazil
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as houseplants
    • Height: 4–10 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, filtered light or partial shade
  • 08 of 09

    Dyckia (Dyckia spp.)

    Dyckia bromeliads with spiny green and gray leaves

    Alohapatty / Getty Images 

    The Dyckia genus includes about 120 species native to Brazil and surrounding areas, most of which are terrestrial species that do well when potted as houseplants. They have sharply pointed, thick, fleshy leaves arranged in rosettes, and, although not true succulents, these bromeliads can survive long periods without water. The leaves can be yellow, gray, green, or red. In the spring, they bloom with multiple red, yellow, or orange flowers on a long, thin stalk. These are among the toughest of bromeliads, with many species readily shrugging off temperatures of 20 degrees or even lower. Thus, they are frequently used as outdoor landscape plants in certain climates.

    • Native Area: South America, especially Brazil
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 8–24 inches; varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade
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  • 09 of 09

    Hechtia Genus (Hechtia spp.)

    Hechtia bromeliad with long, thin green leaves

    Bocabroms / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The Hechtia genus includes about 50 species native to Mexico, where they're found growing alongside cacti and succulents on rocky slopes. These are among the toughest of all cultivated plants, going dormant to survive during periods of drought. The growth habit features long leaves edged with sharp spines and arranged in ground-hugging rosettes. Like most bromeliad types, they flower once before the plant dies and produces offshoot "pups" alongside the parent plant. For these terrestrial plants, which should be potted in a gritty potting soil, such as a cactus mix, ideal temperatures are 60–80 degrees. But they readily survive dips down into the 20s or spikes up into the 100s. They're common features of outdoor landscapes in the appropriate climates.

    • Native Area: Mexico
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: Varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade

These nine genera of bromeliads include some of the most exotic and beautiful houseplants you can grow. Your local garden center will likely stock a few of the most popular species in each genus, but, for more unusual specimens, shop online retailers specializing in bromeliads.