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Home » Flaming Sword Bromeliad (Vriesea splendens) : Plant Care and Growing Guide – House Plants Expert

Flaming Sword Bromeliad (Vriesea splendens) : Plant Care and Growing Guide – House Plants Expert

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

The flaming sword plant (botanical name : vriesea splendens) is one of the most popular vriesea bromeliads grown indoors. This species features a red sword-like flower head that can grow up to 2ft tall and attractive mottled leaves.

Let’s take a closer look a closer look at how suitable the Sword plant is for growing indoors and the care required.


The flaming sword bromeliad is a flowering plant that belongs to the vriesea genus and Bromeliaceae family. Like other bromeliads, this species has a rosette of leaves and a cup or vase in the center which has to be filled with water regularly.

Many bromeliads can grow out of hand (that’s fine outdoors and can be a pain indoors), but fortunately, the splendens keep its maximum growth size quite manageable ( height 2 ft – diameter 1½ ft) which is why it’s a popular house plant.

Caring for these is not difficult, just different from other plants because they only require the center vase to be watered and not the soil. In fact, in their natural habitat, they do not need soil and will grow on trees. The roots are very small on this plant compared to most house plants and do not take water and nutrients from the root system.

Most bromeliads are grown mainly for flowering and others for attractive foliage. This plant is so attractive it’s grown for both.


How it looks: The wide arching leaves have the most striking zebra appearance about them and grow up to 1½ ft in length. The long flower head that rises well above the foliage has bright red bracts, shaped kind of like a sword and flat. Other vriesea plants grow with various types of foliage, flower head colors, and shapes.

Flowering: Vriesea splendens are in no rush to bloom flowers for you and need patience. This obviously depends on the age of the plant when a grower receives it. Grown from a pup it can take a few years or possibly less in ideal conditions. I find the bract is the most attractive part of the flowering process rather than the small tubular greenish-yellow flowers that appear.

Once the flowers have bloomed (which can last for a few months) and begin to die the plant will also die. The middle section of the plant will produce offsets that can be re-potted or placed on a bromeliad tree. These plants are potted for a place to sit rather than the soil, which is why they can be planted on a bromeliad tree (a large tree branch that can be used indoors).


Origin:South America.
Names:Flaming Sword (common). Vriesea splendens (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx):Height 18 in/45 cm, diameter 10 in/25 cm.
Poisonous for pets:Non-Toxic to cats and dogs.
a Flaming Sword plant on a flower pot

Flaming Sword Care

Temperature:To bring them in to flower you may need to keep the temperature up to around 75°f / 24°c and then average room temperatures above 65°f / 18.3°c at any other time.
Light:Bright light without direct sunlight is preferable.
Watering:The vase needs to be kept topped up with water which should be emptied and replaced every two-three weeks The soil is best watered when it becomes slightly dry at the top, and avoid over-watering. Using a pot that has sufficient drainage holes is advised.
Soil:A peat-based potting mix is fine – as long as it drains well.
Fertilizer:Feeding with a liquid diluted fertilizer from May – September is ideal, once every 4 weeks. They can also be mist sprayed with a foliar fertilizer to provide the foliage with nutrients.
Re-Potting:These should not need re-potting if they have matured. Smaller urn plants may need a slightly bigger container to give the roots more room for growth.
Humidity:Normal humidity indoors should be fine, and misting the plant leaves will help too.
Propagation:These are easily propagated after the offsets have grown over 5 inches tall, and are a few months old. They need to be separated from the container they have been growing inside with roots attached and then placed into a suitable-sized container with a moist soil mix.

The flaming sword is a great ornamental decorative plant that is fairly easy to grow. The main requirements are the correct amount of light and NOT to over-water.

Potential Problems

  • Brown leaf tips: I would say dry air is the first possible cause, which misting will improve. Or there could be a chance the plant’s vase has not been filled with water.
  • Brown leaf patches: The most likely cause is too much direct sun. Place the plant where there is less direct sun.
  • The plant dies: After flowering as mentioned above it is time for this plant to die its natural death. If it has not bloomed as yet, then the possible cause could be over-watering.
  • Insects: Mealy bugs and scale can be a problem.

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Nabil Gurguis
Nabil Gurguis
1 year ago

I was given a flaming sword offset that I’ve placed in a small cup in moist soil. My question is, when do I have to place the water vase? Where exactly in the pot? And how?
Also, if I use a tree branch, how do I plant it and how do I water it? Thanks!

Mary Lloyster
Mary Lloyster
Reply to  Nabil Gurguis
1 year ago

Wow! My mother also received a flaming sword bromeliad last month and asked the same question you asked, and the answer can be found in this article under the “sword care” subheading. And with that information, my mother’s flaming sword was growing beautifully. How about sharing a photo of your flaming sword to show how it looks?

1 year ago

I was given a flaming bromeliad a few years ago and it was blooming at the time. When the bloom died(I thought) I cut it off. Well it has bloomed again with a new flower on the sword everyday. Then the flowers died eventually and the sword turned green and now it is brown. I was going to cut it off, but this morning I woke up and it had popped open towards the bottom of the sword and was dropping seeds just like a dandelion, all over my table. I cleaned it up and saved the fairy seeds in a paper bag. I just looked at it again and another portion popped open with More seeds. Very interesting plant. It is almost 4 feet wide. It covers my whole coffee table. The longest leaf is 21 inches long.

11 months ago

Hello Mary…
You have a ton of great information on how to best grow this plant. When I purchased this plant. There was no flower. I just loved the zebra print on the leaves. So, I am not positive i have the exact bromeliad your talking about. I didn’t have much luck with it in soil. I could tell it was slowly dying. So I took it out of the soil. I cleaned off all the roots. Softly with a toothbrush… lol
And I have had it growing in water. Inside a clear vase. I have only the roots under water. I wod say it’s been growing in just water for almost a year. Most of the stripes on the leaves are gone. BUT… I have a pup… that I’d say is about 2, maybe 3 inches tall. Growing right above the roots. Just above the water level. And I have no idea what I should do with the pup. To have the best chance. Of growing another plant. I’d love to show you pics. It’s amazing. Bc I wasn’t even sure the parent was still doing OK. Bc these plants can’t look ok. But they are really pretty much dead. And are a skeleton of the plant. The pup is full of the beautiful prints on the leaves. And the parent has new leaves growing in with the pretty print. If there is anyway to send you pics. I’d love to hear how you think I should move forward.
Thanks for your time.
I can’t believe it stayed alive in only water. Let alone… I have a beautiful pup growing.

Elyssa Goins
Reply to  Sharlean
8 months ago

Thanks for the kind comments. You can email pictures to [email protected]

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