Today I'm going to let you into a little secret of how to get a bromeliad to flower again. In fact one of the main items you need is a plastic bag. Intrigued? Well read on!
Guzmania, Aechmea and Vriesea bromeliads are favourite houseplants of mine. I love their brightly coloured inflorescences (flower spikes) especially at this time of year in the house. Furthermore they bring a little richness and exotica into a room.
In their native habitat which is in the tropical rain forests of South America and the southern states of the USA they are epiphytes. They cling
to the branches of trees or lodge in rock crevices collecting rainwater in their funnels. While here in the northern hemisphere they are
normally grown indoors in pots of compost or else mounted with wire onto wood and covered in sphagnum moss.
Bromeliads just like orchids will outlast a bunch of flowers any day - so are good value for money. They are resilient and very adaptable houseplants. Besides they have health benefits too. They give out oxygen during the day and absorb lots of nasty toxins around our homes during the night.
How do I get a bromeliad to flower again?
At the base of the rosette of leaves you'll see little offshoots growing. You call these pups. It's from these pups that you will get a bromeliad to flower from again. If they are not there don't worry as they will soon appear as the parent plant very slowly dies away.
Those of you who grow bromeliads outdoors have no problem getting the pups to flower. So how do I get a bromeliad to flower again here in the UK? Well you have to be inventive!
In other words you have to use the 'air tight plastic bag method'.
The bromeliad you purchased many, many months ago has now finished flowering. It has lost most of the colour from its inflorescences and you ask yourself
What do I do with it now?
Monocarpic plants flower only once in their lifetime and then die.
Cultivating the Pups
It probably takes on average 12 months to reach the mature plant stage. Then you can force it into flower!
How to get a bromeliad to flower ... the air tight plastic bag method
- A mature bromeliad pup not in flower.
- One clear plastic bag that has no air holes in it. (Garden centres or pet stores that have an aquatics department will normally have large clear bags. Ask nicely and they might let you have one).
- Some ripe fruit like an apple, kiwi or banana.
I wish you could see the looks on peoples faces when I tell them what tools are required. It always brings a smile to my face and sometimes they don't even believe me at first.
Nurturing Your Bromeliad
They only require 1/4 or 1/3 strength of balanced fertilizer during Spring and Summer months.
Add this feed each month into the funnel/vase.
They don't absorb any nutrients from roots.
Avoid high nitrogen feeds as they elongate the leaves.
You keep their funnels/vases in the centre of the rosette of leaves filled with water during Spring, Summer and Autumn months. While during the winter you keep the funnel dry but add a little water around the compost so that it doesn't dry out completely.
Change the water in the funnel every so often and when watering let the water spill over the vase so that it moistens the compost as well. Soft water or rain water is best. Don't water again until the top surface of the compost is dry to the touch. Too much water around the roots will encourage root rot especially during the winter.
Temperature and Humidity
Bromeliads grow best at 55°F but can take shot periods less than this. They love to have their foliage misted especially if temperatures exceed 85°F. The plants love hot humid air rather than hot dry air. Misting is also beneficial during the winter months when its funnel/vase is kept dry.
They don't mind growing in shadier areas around the home but filtered light is best.