What are bromeliads? Bromeliads (BRO-MILL-EE-ADD) are a large family of air plants that grow in central and South America, mostly in Brazil, Ecuador, Columbia, and Panama. Some grow in trees (called epiphytic), while others grow on rocks (saxiphytic) and in the ground (terrestrial). The best known bromeliad in the world is the pineapple plant. Most bromeliad species require a tropical or sub-tropical climate where the temperature rarely drops below 40 degrees F and the humidity rarely drops below 20%. Some species can be grown successfully indoors with minimal light and water. Unlike most plants, bromeliads take in water through the leaves (typically in the center of the plant). They store water and use it as needed until the next rains come. Life cycle of a bromeliad Most bromeliads have a life cycle of about 2-4 years. They are monocarpic, meaning each one grows to its full size, flowers, then dies. But, before they die, all bromeliads reproduce by growing new baby bromeliads (called “offsets” or “pups”) from the base of the plant or on the actual flower stalk (as with Orthophytum). Some Ananas and Alcantarea produce as many as 8-10 pups or more before dying, while Quesnelia marmorata usually only produces one. Benefits of using bromeliads Bromeliads are technically air plants, meaning they require very little water. Non-terrestrial bromeliads (ones that grow on trees, logs, rocks, etc.) do not depend on their roots to soak up water and nutrients. Instead, they use their roots to attach themselves to another plant and then collect water and debris in their cups.