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Is there any way by looking at the root system to tell if a brom is capable of epiphytic growth? I know in theory that thin, tangly roots indicate it is using them for nutrition, but my understanding is also that if you plant a brom it will utilize these kinds of roots even if it is typically epiphytic.

I got a couple of broms in the mail the other day that came planted in soil (I have yet to pull them out and look at their roots). Can I pull them out, trim the roots, put them in some sphagnum and mount them as with any other epiphytic brom?
 

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with few exceptions, all broms are epiphytic. Trim the roots a bit, do the whole bleach rinse deal, and mount away. Many come planted in soil because its easy to care for them en masse that way
 

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with few exceptions, all broms are epiphytic. Trim the roots a bit, do the whole bleach rinse deal, and mount away. Many come planted in soil because its easy to care for them en masse that way
Sorry bud but that is far from true. There are MANY terrestrial bromeliads.

Typically any potted brom is gonna have stringy roots so that isn't gonna be a good way to tell. Best bet is to find out what species it is or at least the genus.
 

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Antone is quite correct.

Among the (sub-family) Pitcairnoidea, Puya, Dyckia, Deuterochonia, Hechtia are all terrestrial; a few Pitcairnia are lithophytes (like P. feliciana, the one West African bromeliad)

Among the Bromeliodea, most Aechmea, Bilbergia, Canistropsis, Neoregelia are epiphytes; I'm growing a Canistropsis burchelli epiphytically out on the front porch. But Ananas (pineapples), Cryptanthus, Orthophytum are terrestrial. Some Nidularium are terrestrial, and Aechmea gamosepala and A. recurvata have been found among rocks.

Bromeliad Photo Index - FCBS

(the link is because I'm trying to show you Aechmea recurvata)

Among the Tillandsioidea, all Catopsis are epiphytes, as are most Guzmania, Vriesea and Tillandsias. But some can be found growing as terrestrials, especially along the Peruvian coast and and the Brazilian south-east coast (restinga); Vriesea sucrei, for example, is often found growing terrestrially. Alcantarea grows terrestrially, sometimes as a lithophyte.

HOW-EV-AH--many epiphytic bromeliads, with the exception of some tillandsias, will develop real root systems when grown in pots with loose media. The same plants grown epiphytically will grow wiry roots for clinging, and absorb most of the water through their cups. These can be converted to epiphytic growth, but I would not try growing a pineapple or dyckia as an epiphyte (just as I wouldn't try to root several tillandsias, especially any ones with grey scurf). Tillandsia cyanea and its allies are moist epiphytes in nature, but are usually grown potted, as are most Guzmanias.

In my experience, the best bromeliads for mounting in humid situations are grey-leafed tillandsias (of course), many aechmeas, green-leafed tillandsias, smaller neoregelias and some vrieseas, usually in that order. While the grey-leafed tillandsias do not require as much humidity, even they appreciate a bit more than the average household. The key for most bromeliads is to provide some humidity with some air circulation. Do that, and provide good water (i.e., not hard), and bromeliads are fairly easy plants to grow!
 
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