The Red Hot Guide to Neoregelia Fireball Care

Neoregelia is a genus of strikingly colored epiphytic Bromeliads.

And the ‘Fireball’ cultivar is every bit as bold as it sounds.

In the wild, you’d typically find these bright rosettes growing on trees and rocks in South America, but their compact size makes them an ideal fit for terrariums too.

And the best thing? The Neoregelia family has a huge variety of cultivars and hybrids. Honestly, enough to match anyone’s tastes – but if red is your color, then the ‘Fireball’ could be for you!

Find out how to care for the Neoregelia Fireball and put it to good use in a planted setup.

Neoregelia Fireball

Where to Buy Neoregelia ‘Fireball’

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Neoregelia ‘Fireball’ Care

Plant TypeEpiphyte
LightingBright, indirect light
Temperature60-72°F (15-22°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityHigh humidity (60-90%)
Growth4-6 inches

Lighting

Living as an epiphyte in the wild, Neoregelia plants would typically be found under a tree canopy.

So they’re used to dappled indirect sunlight and the odd snippet of direct light.

That said, ‘Fireball’ is probably one of the cultivars that can handle the most sun. In fact, the intensity of their red coloration is dependent on the amount of light they receive.

Weirdly, they actually start off green!

Alas, mine is relatively new and very much still green. We have some work to do here…

Neoregelia Fireball lighting
143 footcandles of lighting is not nearly enough on this cloudy day.

The brightest indirect light possible is the gold standard here.

Watering

As a true tropical beauty, Neoregelia ‘Fireball’ does like a generally moist tropical environment.

However, it’s primarily an epiphyte. Meaning it tends to absorb water and nutrients primarily through its “cup” rather than its roots. So, watering is a little different with this one.

It’s considered good practice to flush out the central “cup” with clean water once a week.

Counterintuitively, it doesn’t like to have water on the leaves themselves.

So, if you have this potted up, maybe use that flush as your sole watering opportunity and allow it to dry between watering instances.

That said, if you’ve got yours planted in a terrarium with some airflow, then it’s not so much of a problem.

Neoregelia Fireball watering
I’ve been generally misting my plant along with the rest of my terrarium, and it’s been fine. However, I do tend to try and avoid the leaves where possible.

But in a fully sealed terrarium, you might run into issues. 

Substrate

Neoregelia ‘Fireball’ are essentially air plants, so they really don’t need substrate

They do technically have roots, but they’re more designed to hold the plant into place than they are to absorb anything.

Neoregelia Fireball in a terrarium
Our plants aren’t so much “planted” here as they are wedged simply into the landscape.

Honestly, if our tanks were bigger, I’d have loved to put them higher, nestled in some hardscape. But really, you need one of those wonderfully tall cabinet-style terrariums to show these off.

On the flip side, Neoregelia can be planted in the substrate if you choose one with excellent drainage and aeration.

A more sandy, gritty, or chunky bark-based tropical substrate mix should do the trick.

Temperature & Humidity

These tropical wonders thrive in hot and humid conditions.

As natural air plants, humidity is a deal breaker here (it’s how they get all their moisture, after all), which can be a little tricky to balance with their preference for airflow.

Of the two, I’d always recommend maxing out humidity, though.

These Neoregelia can be quite sensitive to temperature, too, so I’d aim to push the higher end of the range. The more warmth and consistency you can give it, the better. 

Naturally, a tropical terrarium is the best place to achieve both.

Neoregelia Fireball humidity
Thankfully, though often cold, Britain has a naturally humid climate. It’ll be much more than 70% in the terrarium.

Growth

Bromeliads can grow to some seriously big sizes.

Look at these chonky bois we stumbled across in Thailand.

However, Neoregelia ‘Fireball’ is a relatively slow grower in the family, and they probably won’t get much bigger than 6 inches wide or tall in a terrarium.

So you can be confident that the ones you attach to your terrarium background of branches are not going to become monsters overnight.

They can bloom with a purple flower under the right conditions, but the flowers typically don’t last long.

Propagation

Neoregelia ‘Fireball’ propagation isn’t like most other plants.

Young plants known as “pups” grow from the mother plant and will naturally root and grow themselves without intervention.

That said, once they’ve matured and formed their own roots, they’re safe to separate (usually when they’re about 2/3 the full size). 

We did exactly that with our plant.

Neoregelia Fireball propagating
I’d recommend secateurs for the job, as we had a hard time removing the pup, even with our sharp scissors.
Neoregelia Fireball propagating
It’s strange to propagate a plant and get a new plant with no roots, but I guess that’s the general idea here.

I then “planted” my newly propagated plant directly onto the surface of my new tank terrarium. I’m sure it’ll root up there eventually.

Varieties & Similar Plants

Neoregelia (also sometimes called Nidularium) are prized for their huge amount of variations and colors.

There are a seemingly endless amount of new cultivars popping up, and they’re often used as an example of how to hybridize plants effectively.

The ‘Fireball’ cultivar even has several hybridizations of its own, including the ‘Superball’ and the ‘Sunball.’

In the wider Bromeliaceae family, there’s always the Earth Stars to check out, too.

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We’ve had a lot of success with the stunning, hot-pink Cryptanthus bivittatus.
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