A dying bromeliad is usually because of low humidity, underwatering, temperatures lower than 50ºF, or too much sun, all of which turn the leaves brown with a dying appearance. Usually, the bromeliads flower turns brown and dies back after 6 months which also triggers the bromeliads leaves to turn brown and die back.
Bromeliad plants always turn brown and die after they have flowered which is part of their natural cycle.
Brown, curling leaves typically indicate stress from low humidity, too much sunlight, and underwatering.
Bromeliads are epiphytes which means they are specially adapted to growing on other trees. As a result, they do not like their roots in normal potting soil which causes the roots to rot and the leaves to turn brown.
In their natural environment, bromeliads attain their moisture requirements for the humid tropical air which makes the leaves very susceptible to turning brown and dying indoors due to low humidity.
To revive a dying bromeliad (Bromeliaceae) it is important to recreate the preferred conditions of its native environment with bright indirect light, high humidity consistent watering, and a temperature range of between 70ºF to 90ºF (21ºC to 32ºC) during the day and 50ºF to 65ºF (10ºC to 18ºC) at night.
Keep reading for how to save your dying bromeliad…
Bromeliad Flower Turning Brown and Dying (Bromeliads Die After Flowering)
- Symptoms. The flower turning brown and dying back.
- Causes. Bromeliad flowers turn brown and die which causes triggers the bromeliad foliage to die back in the following weeks.
Bromeliads can live several years in the right conditions (different species have different life spans with 2-5 years being common) but the plant does die back after flowering (flowering can last up to 6 months).
Once the bromeliad has flowered, it has completed its life cycle, and the flower and eventually, the entire bromeliads turn brown and die back.
However, the good news is that bromeliads often produce offsets or ‘pups’ throughout their life that emerge from the main base of the plant, which can be used to grow a new plant that should eventually mature and produce another flower.
Even after the bromeliad has flowered and the flower has started to turn brown and die back, the bromeliad can produce more offsets to replace the main plant.
Because bromeliads produce offsets regularly, this means that you can have a continual supply of bromeliad plants for many years as each individual plant goes through its life cycle and dies back.
How to Save your Bromeliad…
After the bromeliad’s flower turns brown and starts to die back, cut the browning flower back to the base with a sharp pair of pruners. Keep up the bromeliad in a warm, humid room with bright indirect light, and keep the soil moist but not saturated.
This provides the right conditions for offsets to emerge and grow.
Wait until the offset is around 1/3 of the size of the original mature bromeliad to ensure it is resilient enough to cope with stress before attempting to separate it and re-pot it.
Re-pot the offset into ideally a terracotta pot (as this is porous, which allows the soil to dry evenly) and I personally use an orchid potting mix to repot as most houseplant bromeliads are epiphytes like orchids which means they require potting mixes with the same characteristics, although specific bromeliad potting mixes can be bought online or in garden centers.
Here is a YouTube video which has a great visual explanation of how to separate bromeliad off setts from the mature plant:
(Read my article, how to revive dying air plants which are also a type of bromeliad).
Bromeliad Turning Brown and Dying
- Symptoms. Bromeliad leaves and roots turn brown and die back. Leaves may turn brown and start curling in appearance.
- Causes. Root rot from overwatering and damp soil causes the leaves and roots to turn brown. Low humidity, and underwatering cause the leaves to curl and die back. Too much sun can bleach the leaves brown or even white depending on sun intensity. Cold temperatures also contribute to leaves turning brown and dying.
The reason bromeliads turn brown is because of too much sun, low humidity, cold temperatures, or overwatering. Most bromeliads are epiphytes that grow in well-draining conditions. If the roots are in boggy soil from overwatering or poor drainage, they start to rot which causes the bromeliad’s leaves to turn brown with a dying appearance.
Overwatering and Damp Soil…
In their natural environment, bromeliads grow on tree branches or rocks, and their roots are used for stability to anchor the plant in place.
The bromeliad prioritizes anchoring itself high up position off the forest floor, so it can be in bright light to promote growth and flowering.
The roots do not necessarily grow into the soil, so the bromeliad attains all its moisture and nutrients from the surrounding humid air.
This means that the bromeliad’s roots are especially sensitive to root rot if they are in damp or compacted soil.
Bromeliads also do not tolerate any compacted soil and even normal potting soil as it retains moisture for too long and prevents their roots from respiring.
Repotting bromeliads into significantly larger pots is also likely to result in a brown, dying bromeliad as larger pots take longer to dry out.
UnderWatering with Low Humidity and Too Much Sun (Brown Curling Leaves)
Most bromeliad houseplants also have leaves that are shaped to funnel water into a central ‘well or ‘tank’ (an adaptation to collect rainfall whilst the bromeliad is off the ground) and thus should be watered by topping up the well so that there is water at all times and regular misting rather than watering the soil.
If the well is dry the bromeliad leaves dry out, start curling, turn brown, and die back.
If the room is too shaded then growth is usually poor whereas too much direct sunlight bleaches the leaves and can causes the tips or perhaps all of the leaf to turn brown and scorched or lose color and turn somewhat white.
Most bromeliad plants are also native to tropical areas and prefer a humidity of around 50 to 75%. if the humidity is too low, the bromeliad leaves turn brown, and crispy and die back.
Bromeliads are also fairly unusual in that the require a 10ºF fluctuation in temperature from day to night in order to photosynthesize.
The optimal daytime temperature range between 70ºF to 90ºF (21ºC to 32º) and between of 50ºF to 65ºF (10ºC to 18ºC) during the night. Consider whether your bromeliad is too near any source of indoor heating as this can cause the opposite temperature cycle with higher temperatures at night which is contrary to the preferred conditions.
Any exposure to temperatures outside the preferred range can contribute to the bromeliad turning brown.
How to Revive a Bromeliad That is Turning Brown and Dying
The key to reviving bromeliad with brown leaves is to replicate the conditions of its native environment by increasing the humidity with regular misting, maintaining a temperature range of between 50ºF and 90ºF and planting the bromeliad in an aerated, porous potting medium.
Cut back leaves that have turned brown and crispy.
- Mist the bromeliad every day to counteract low humidity and place it in a bathroom or kitchen. Keep the bromeliad away from any draughts or air currents that could be caused by air conditioning or forced air. Misting the leaves helps to create a humid micro-climate that mimics the conditions of the bromeliad’s native environment.
- Maintain a temperature range of between 50ºF to 65ºF (10ºC to 18ºC) at night and 70ºF to 90ºF (21ºC to 32º). Keep the bromeliad on the other side of the room from radiators or any source of indoor heating and do not allow any leaves to be in contact with the cold glass of a window.
- Place the bromeliad in an area of bright indirect sunlight, away from full sun. If any of the leaves have been scorched brown or bleached by the sun, cut the leaves back to the base of the plant with a sharp pair of pruners as these individual leaves do not recover their green appearance.
- Keep the bromeliad’s ‘tank’ or ‘well’ topped up when watering. If the bromeliad cultivar is an epiphytes (most houseplant bromeliads are) then it is important to water the tank rather then the soil to prevent the leaves turning brown as damp soil promotes the conditions for root rot.
- Always re-pot bromeliads in an orchid potting medium rather than potting soil. Normal potting soil is not porous enough for the bromeliad and retains too much water. Orchid potting medium is well aerated, which allows for good drainage and replicates the growing conditions of the bromeliad’s native environment, to prevent root rot and browning leaves.
- Plant bromeliads in terracotta or unglazed clay pots. Terracotta and clay are naturally porous which allows the potting medium to dry more evenly to mitigate the risk of root rot. Always repot the bromeliad or bromeliads off setts in a pot that is one size larger then the previous pot. Bromeliads are so sensitive to overwatering and damp soil mediums that it is important use a slightly larger pot as this should dry at a similar rate to the previous pot.
- Cut away any individual leaves that have turned brown. Once the leaves have turned brown they do not turn green again so snip them back with a sharp pair of pruners.
Once you have corrected the environmental conditions that were causing your bromeliad’s leaves to turn brown and created the optimal conditions, with high humidity, bright light, the preferred temperature range, and the right potting medium, it is more likely the bromeliad should recover.
However, if he bromeliad’s leaves have turned brown because of any issues pertaining to overwatering, damp or compacted soil is likely to cause root rot which is more difficult for the plant to recover from.
If the original mature plant dies back then bromeliads often grow off setts in abundance, which is are very easy to propagate to save the plant.
(Read my guide, How do I Care for a Bromeliad Indoors).
- The reason for a dying bromeliad is usually because of low humidity, underwatering, or too much sun. Bromeliads attain their moisture requirements from humid air rather than soil and prefer a bright indirect light rather than full sun. Low humidity and direct sunlight turn the leaves brown and curl with a dying appearance.
- Bromeliad flowers turn brown after 6 months of flowering as a natural part of the bromeliad’s life cycle. The flower turns brown and dies back which triggers new off shoots to grow and the mature bromeliad plant’s foliage turns brown with a dying appearance.
- The bromeliad foliage turns brown and dies back if the soil is too damp or compacted. Bromeliads are epiphytes that naturally grow in trees and prefer an orchid-based potting medium that replicates their natural growing conditions. Consistently damp soil causes root rot and results in dying leaves.
- To revive a dying bromeliad recreate the preferred conditions of its native environment by misting regularly to increase the humidity, maintains a temperature range of 50ºF to 90ºF, and locate the bromeliad in bright indirect light. Prune back any brown, dying leaves with a sharp pair of pruners and propagate any off setts.