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7 Reasons Your Bromeliad Leaves Are Turning Brown or Yellow

7 Reasons Your Bromeliad Leaves Are Turning Brown or Yellow

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Bromeliad plants will add an exotic flair to your living space. These plants have gained wide popularity for some time. Interestingly, bromeliads have been an import product in the U.S. for over a hundred years as well.

One of the reasons why they’re so popular is due to them being fairly low maintenance. As such, you won’t encounter too many problems when caring for them.

Nonetheless, a plant being low-maintenance doesn’t mean that nothing can go wrong at all. You might notice your bromeliad leaves turning brown or yellow, for instance.

You’re likely wondering: Is there a specific reason why this might happen to my bromeliad plant? What can you do about bromeliad leaves turning brown or yellow?

Stick around to dig into all the details about why your bromeliad plants are browning. Once you understand the cause, it’ll be easier to prevent it from happening again.

1 – Watering Your Plant Too Much

Watering A Bromeliad

Overwatering your plant is a common cause of its yellowing leaves. You might’ve been watering your plant before it had the time to truly dry out. This moisture imbalance is likely a culprit to the yellowing leaves.

You’ll want to be more careful when watering bromeliad plants in the future. As a general rule of thumb, always check the soil with your fingers before you decide to water the plant.

The ideal time to water a bromeliad plant is when the soil is almost completely dry. After checking the topsoil and ensuring that it’s dry, you can proceed to water the soil.

As you pour the water in, it should seep from the bottom plant pot’s drainage holes. The excess water will then remain in the saucer. You need to discard that water, or it could exacerbate the bromeliad plant’s condition.

Allowing the soil to sit in the water can lead to even more challenging issues to manage, like root rot. But once you’ve perfected the plant’s watering schedule, the plant should bounce back to normal over several weeks.

2 – Not Watering Enough

Like overwatering, underwatering can also spell trouble for your bromeliad’s foliage. If you’ve been waiting too long to water your bromeliad plant, its leaves will turn brown.

When you notice the leaves turning brown, dry, and crispy, it’s a sign that your plant desperately needs water. It’s shrinking from the lack of moisture.

Whether you forgot to water it several weeks in a row or weren’t thorough when watering the plant, you need to act quickly to save your bromeliad plant.

You’re supposed to water the plant until you see water flowing from the drainage hole in the pot. If you only give your bromeliad plant a bit of water, the moisture won’t reach the roots, killing them.

For this reason, you’ll want to monitor the soil. Don’t let it become bone dry before you water the plant again.

How to Revive Bromeliad from Being Underwatered

A change in your watering habits could help the plant spring back to life. Letting the plant soak up water from underneath through the drainage hole could be the remedy. Here’s how to start:

  1. Fill your sink or basin with three to four inches of water. Keep the water at a neutral temperature.
  2. Submerge the bottom portion of the plant pot in the sink. Leave it for around 45 minutes.
  3. Feel the top two to three inches of the soil. If it’s damp, your soil is ideally saturated.
  4. If the top remains dry, pour more water on the topsoil to quicken rehydration.
  5. Take out the plant pot and drain your sink or basin.
  6. Allow the bromeliad plant time to drain all excess moisture before placing it back in a saucer.

To maintain the plant’s moisture, make sure the center foliage is a quarter or halfway filled. Empty the standing water every two weeks to avoid mineral and salt buildup.

Hopefully, you’ll restore your plant’s vibrant green shine after watering it correctly for some time.

3 – Humidity Issues

Bromeliad Flower With Brown Tips

As tropical epiphytes, bromeliad plants thrive in high-humid environments. If you can’t mimic the plant’s original conditions, its leaves will start to brown and yellow.

Low humidity will dry out your plant’s foliage and soil. If you leave it in these dry conditions, the leaf discoloration will get progressively worse.

It usually starts with the leaves browning around the edges, but it’ll spread—with the leaves turning completely yellow.

Eventually, the leaves will turn brown, and then you’ll see the bromeliad plant’s leaves start to droop.

How to Increase Your Home’s Humidity Levels

You can increase the humidity levels in your home by going out to buy a small humidifier. Several houseplant enthusiasts buy humidifiers to help protect their plants during winter.

Winter can be especially bad in certain areas, and some homes will get very dry. A small humidifier placed in the room can keep your plants well-hydrated.

You could also mist your bromeliad plant’s leaves every so often. People have reported good results by using standard misting techniques. Keep in mind that this will involve a bit more effort than just using a humidifier.

Whatever you decide to do, just be mindful of the humidity levels in your home. Try your best to mirror a tropical environment (50% to 75% humidity) to keep your bromeliad plant flourishing.

4 – Not Getting Enough Sunlight

Bromeliad In Low Light

All plants need a certain amount of light to survive. In the bromeliad plant’s case, it doesn’t do well in excessively low-light environments.

You’re supposed to grow these plants in medium or bright indirect sunlight. That said, they can survive in environments with somewhat low-light conditions.

However, when you place a bromeliad plant in conditions with exceptionally little light, it’ll wind up developing yellow leaves. If this happens, you could revive the plant by placing it in a spot with more appropriate lighting.

It’ll thrive best in east or west-facing windows, where indirect light shines plenty. Gentle reminder: Avoid placing the plant in full sun. You’ll end up scorching the leaves, turning them yellow, and draining them of all moisture.

5 – Pests Could Be the Cause of Yellowing

There’s some potential that the yellowing leaves could be caused by pests. Certain types of insects will infest your plant and drain it of moisture. Here are some viable pest culprits to watch out for:

Spider Mites

Spider mites are the most common type of pest that you’ll have to deal with when caring for bromeliad plants.

These pesky bugs can suck off all the moisture from your plant, which will turn its leaves yellow. You might notice the fronds of the plant turning yellow as well.

Appearance-wise, detecting spider mites can be difficult. To the naked eye, they’ll appear as moving dots. They’re smaller than 1⁄20 inch long, have eight legs, and an oval-shaped body.


Scales are usually trickier to diagnose since they tend to hide in the underside of bromeliad leaves. You can also locate them at the plant’s axis or stem.

These oval-shaped pests feed on a plant’s sap and excrete a sticky honeydew substance. Once a layer of that sticky excretion covers the leaves, it can develop into black Sooty mold—further damaging the foliage.


Mealybugs are oval-shaped pests with a fuzzy-like exterior. They use a similar feeding technique to scales. As they leech off your bromeliad’s nutrients, they secrete a honeydew substance.

They also inject harmful toxins while feeding. Overall, the pest infestation will resemble a white mass on your plant’s foliage. 

How to Get Rid of Pests on Your Bromeliad

You’re going to want to try to recognize pest problems before they develop and bring irreversible damage to your bromeliad plant. Here are some remedies to consider:

Commercial Insecticide

In your gardening store, you can browse for multiple insecticidal soap options. All you have to do is spray the solution on your bromeliad’s foliage.

Be sure to get in the underside, where aphids or younger pests tend to gather. You can repeat the process weekly.

Neem Oil

If you’d rather go with a more organic route, neem oil can be your best bet. It works well in killing spider mites, fungus gnats, and mealybugs.

To use the product, dilute it in a spray bottle with liquid soap and water. Spray the plant once every one to two weeks.

You can also drench your soil with the oil to treat soil-borne pest issues. Be sure to dilute the oil concentrate with water and a few drops of horticultural soap.

6 – Root Issues

Roots are the foundation of your plant. Once harmed, you’ll start to notice the signs creeping into your bromeliad plant’s leaves. The bottom plant portion is critical for delivering all the nutrients to the foliage.

Diseases like root rot or compacted leaves can adversely affect the plant’s health, turning the leaves brown or yellow.

Compacted Roots

Plants naturally grow in size over time. The same holds true for their roots. As the foliage grows, so does the roots’ reach.

If you keep the plant in the same pot size, it won’t accommodate the growth, cramming the roots. You can simply solve the issue by transferring the plant to a larger-sized pot. Be sure to cut off any dead roots before moving it into its new home.

Root Rot

Root rot often comes from over-hydrating your bromeliad plant. Signs of the fungal disease often come in the form of a foul odor from your soil.

In this case, you’ll need to remove the plant from its pot, cut off affected root portions, and repot the plant in new, clean soil.

7 – Irregular Soil pH

Your plant’s nutrient absorption is heavily dependent on its soil pH. If it’s too low, you’ll be discounting some essential compounds, like calcium and potassium.

Meanwhile, an overly alkaline soil can reduce the absorption of iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.

In your bromeliad plant’s case, it prefers a soil pH ranging between 5.0 and 6.0. Subsequently, you’ll want to immerse it in a slightly acidic pot.

When Are Yellow Bromeliad Leaves a Normal Sight?

Healthy Bromeliad

Yellowing isn’t always something that you need to worry about. There are times when your bromeliad will be growing, and new leaves will pop up.

Older leaves can turn yellow. Generally, the older leaves toward the bottom of the plant should be the most likely ones that will experience yellowing.

It’s completely normal and is part of the growth cycle of the plant. Bromeliad plants need to shed their old leaves so that the energy can be expended on the newly growing leaves.

Just don’t mistake natural leaf yellowing that occurs during growth with the other issues above. You don’t want to think that things are fine when there are mistakes that you need to correct.

Why Are My Bromeliad Flowers Turning Brown?

Your bromeliad’s flowers can also turn brown over time. The plant’s flower may have surpassed its six-month lifespan.

The bloom will eventually turn brown and die because of the growing offspring at the plant’s base. This is also another natural thing that can happen with these plants when it’s the right time.

Final Thoughts

Once you know why your bromeliad leaves turn brown or yellow, it’ll be easier to figure out what to do. These causes can come from improper watering practices, lighting, insufficient humidity, or pest infestation.

Either way, diagnosing the issue as promptly as you can is key to solving it. Nonetheless, it’s also possible that some of the yellowing and browning could be natural.

Overall, you want to ensure that you’re watering the plant properly so that it receives the correct moisture level it needs to thrive.

You’re also going to want to pay attention to the sunlight conditions, making sure your plant gets enough bright indirect light. Humidity levels should also stay high to keep the bromeliad leaves refreshed.

Remember: These plants aren’t difficult to take care of! Following our care tips should prolong your bromeliad plant’s life and prevent further issues.

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