4 Genera of Bromeliad Plants for Growing Indoors

The bromeliad family of plants (Bromeliaceae) are wonderful houseplants that are native to tropical North and South America. Related to the pineapple, there are more than 3,000 known species of bromeliads categorized in about 75 genera, of which many are highly prized indoor specimens. In addition to the many native species, there are many, many more cultivars bred for sale. 

Bromeliads are tolerant of low light, can be watered from overhead in their central cups, and feature ornamental foliage and beautiful, if infrequent, flowers. Though quite spectacular plants, they are remarkably easy to grow. Although bromeliads favor shady areas in their native areas, when grown as an indoor plant, they need ​relatively bright locations, such as in front of a window. Bromeliads also need relatively humid conditions, which can be a challenge when grown indoors in dry winter months. Keeping the pot in a saucer of gravel kept constantly wet can help keep humidity levels up. Bromeliads do well in shallow pots filled with an orchid mix potting soil. 

Here are four genera of Bromiliead plants that offer many species ideal for indoor growing.

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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 want.

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    Aechmea Genus (Aechmea spp.)

    Aechmea
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    The various species of the Aechmea genus are some of the most resilient and longest-lasting of bromeliads, which might explain why this type is also one of the most popular indoor bromeliads. The genus includes some of the most popular species, such 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. But they produce offspring ("pups") that will keep you in Aechmea plants for years.

    Native Area: Subtropical North, Central, 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

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    Guzmania Genus (Guzmania spp.)

    Guzmania plants
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    Guzmania bromeliads are available in a striking array of leaf colors, from orange to red and purple to yellow 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.

    Native Area: Subtropical North, Central, 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; avoid any direct sunlight with these species

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    Neoegelia Genus (Neoregelia spp.)

    Neoregelia (Neoregelia carolinae), close-up
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    The Neoregelia bromeliads seen most often in cultivation are shorter than their showy cousins, as they don't have towering flowering bracts. However, these plants frequently have gorgeous foliage that can provide months of color. The Neoregelia species are also slightly more cold-hardy than some other bromeliads, surviving temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The most common grown Neoregelia species is N. carolinae, which has narrow strappy narrow leaves, often variegated. When in flower, the center of the cup turns red and small flowers emerge.

    Native Area: Subtropical North, Central, and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 9–10; usually grown as houseplants

    Height: Varies by species; most are less than 1 foot tall

    Sun Exposure: Bright indirect light

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    Vriesea Genus (Vriesea spp.)

    Color Stories - Green
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    The Vriesea bromeliads seen indoors are somewhat strange but oddly beautiful plants. There are both foliage and flowering types available, but the flowering specimens 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 are perfect desktop plants for low-light conditions.

    Native Area: Subtropical North, Central, and South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; usually grown as houseplants

    Height: Varies by species

    Sun Exposure: Bright indirect light

These four popular 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.