Forcing Bromeliads Back Into Bloom

Question:

How do I get my Bromeliad plant to bloom again? Someone suggested that I put the plant into a bag of cut up apples. Also how long can I keep it as a houseplant?

Answer:

  • All Bromeliads have colorful, long-lasting flowers and some varieties have brilliant foliage. They make an excellent, long lasting houseplant because they adapt to the unfavorable growing conditions that exist in most homes.
  • Bromeliad varieties with thick, gray, gray-green or fuzzy foliage withstand the brightest light level and some direct sunlight while Tillansands and other species with soft, green, thin leaves grow best in low light conditions.
  • At the end of their blooming cycle, they'll need to be divided. The flowering or mother plant usually dies after flowering, but it does produce pups or side shoots first.  You perpetuate the plant by separating the pups from the mother plant and growing them on as new plants. These new plants then flower.
    • The pups should be a half to one-third the size of the parent before removing them.
    • You may begin to see roots on pups, but even if they haven’t formed roots, mature pups can survive since they are epiphytic. Epiphytic plants can grow without roots.  In their natural habitat, they grow in the canopy of trees where they anchor themselves by their roots to the tree trunks. They don’t have extensive roots, so they are adaptable to being grown in relatively small containers.
    • The longer pups remain on the parent, the earlier they will reach maturity and flower. That means tolerating a dying parent plant whose leaves will yellow and eventually turn brown. If necessary, you can trim back the parent plant’s leaves allowing more room for the pups to grow.
  •  Once they are big enough, it is time to remove the bromeliad pups.
    • You’ll need a sharp knife, and it’s often best to remove the mother plant from the container to better see where to make the cuts
    • .You’ll cut the pup away from the parent, taking a small amount of the parent along with the offset.
    • The container should be twice as big as the base of the pup, and you can use any of the commercial potting soils. The pups may need support for the first few weeks until more extensive roots form. A straw is a sufficient stake to support the new pups.  The straw is removed after enough roots have formed.
  •  You force Bromeliads into bloom by exposing the plants to Ethylene Gas. Many fruits such as apples and pears release Ethylene naturally.
  • To encourage your bromeliads to bloom, place the plants inside a clear plastic bag with sliced apples for ten to fourteen days.
    • You need to tie the bag securely to trap the Ethylene Gas. As the apple slices age, they emit the ethylene gas that in turn, induces the formation of flowers.
  •  Depending on the variety the new plants should be in bloom again in six to fourteen weeks