Bromeliads are generally purchased in full bloom from a nursery when they are not living in the wild.
These spectacular flowers die in a few weeks or a month. Adult bromeliads bloom once and then they are done for life.
Bromeliads are epiphytes, which grip to their chosen surface, usually a tree or a rock in their native habitat
The rosette or center of the flower (the tank) stops growing when blooming is complete. However, the plant does grow offshoots or ‘pups’ of itself at the base of the rosette.
With a little tender loving care, these pups can bloom again.
There are several ways to get your bromeliad to bloom.
First, you need to decide what you are going to do with the pups.
There are two options. Either remove them from the mother plant or allow them to grow in clumps with the mother plant.
To remove them:
- Wait until the bromeliad pups are at least 50% of the mother’s size. This gives them the best survival rate.
- With a clean, sharp knife remove the babies at the base
- Leave the babies on the counter for a day to callous before planting
- Plant the offshoot in a well-draining soil mix such as orchid compost. They don’t have a proper root system, but they do have something called anchors. Plant them in a pot that is a similar size to the mother’s pot. Don’t plant them too deep or they will rot.
- Keep the center of the flower filled with water. Add diluted liquid seaweed or diluted compost tea every two weeks. Another option is to mist the entire plant with the mixture, paying special attention to the center of the flower. This is where bromeliads get their nutrients from, not from the base or the roots like other plants.
If you prefer to leave the pups with the mother plant, you can gently cut the mother out when she becomes too unsightly.
Bromeliads won’t bloom until they hit maturity at around twelve months of age. With a few tips and tricks, you can speed that process along.
The first thing you can try is adding Epsom salts to the growing medium. They can also be added to the cup of the plant to encourage blooming by promoting the production of chlorophyll.
Apple in a Bag Method
The next thing you can try is the “apple in a bag method”. For this method, you need a bag that is big enough to fit the entire plant in it.
It should be loose-fitting and free of holes. You will also need a ripe apple. A banana or kiwi will work as well.
Make sure the center tank and leaf axils are empty before beginning this method. Put the plant and the piece of fruit in the bag and tie it up, making sure there are no openings.
Leave the Bromeliad there for seven to ten days before removing it from the bag. It is best not to leave the bag in direct sunlight during this time. The fruit will produce ethylene gas which is what will make your Bromeliad bloom.
Once you remove the bag, the Bromeliad should show signs of blooming within six to sixteen weeks. It will stop producing green leaves and start showing signs of blooming such as colored bracts or inflorescence.
The fruit in the bag is a natural way of producing ethylene however you can also buy ethylene as either a liquid, crystal, or gas form.
Unless you are a commercial grower, I would recommend that you use the liquid form. Gas can be difficult to work with.
The active ingredient in it is ethephon and there are various products with various amounts of ethephon in them.
Be sure to read the instructions for dilution carefully and mix only what you need for the treatment you are doing. The active ingredient becomes ineffective very quickly once it is mixed with water.
Use it within four hours of mixing it. At this point, you can either spray the whole flower with the liquid, so it is wet but not dripping or add a small amount (an ounce) to the central tank of the plant.
The addition of liquid ethylene works faster than the fruit method because you don’t have to wait seven to ten days for it to sit in the bag. It will still take six to fourteen weeks for the Bromeliad to bloom.
There are a few other safeguards you will want to take before you try and make your Bromeliad bloom again.
- Don’t fertilize the Bromeliad for at least two weeks prior to starting the apple in the bag or the ethephon method.
- Temperatures at night should remain above 65 degrees Fahrenheit when you are forcing the Bromeliad to bloom.
- Different Bromeliad species can take different amounts of time to bloom. It might be a bit of trial and error to figure it out for each type of Bromeliad.
- Too much or too little sunlight may prevent a Bromeliad from responding to a forced bloom.
- Bromeliads can be reluctant to bloom if the fertilizer you are using contains too much nitrogen. The Sunshine Coast Bromeliad Society warns that too much nitrogen will allow the plant to keep producing pups however it will slow down blooming. It is recommended that you use a fertilizer with Nitrogen 3.0, Phosphorous 8.0, and Potassium 25.0. This combination forces the stress to allow the plant to color brightly and flower early on. It is a good idea to use a high nitrogen fertilizer when they are pups as this will encourage growth but once they have reached maturity, it is better to use lower nitrogen.
All in all, it is an extremely easy venture to force a Bromeliad to bloom. It takes extraordinarily little work although you will need a little bit of patience. But with such a gorgeous flower, I think it is most definitely worth the wait.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.