Bromeliads are known for their striking flowers, but the drawback to this gorgeous splendor is that once a plant flowers, it completes its life cycle and dies. For many, this would be a dealbreaker. Why spend money on a one-and-done plant? If you properly care for your plant as it blooms, it will reward you with new babies to grow!
Will My Bromeliad Die After Flowering?
Unfortunately, after your beautiful bromeliad blooms, the plant will slowly start to decline and eventually die. It will start browning and losing petals, signifying it is reaching the end of the blooming cycle, but this process can last upwards of a year. At this point, no amount of care or special tricks will “save” the flower and the plant.
The good news is that when the mature plant blooms, it begins directing its energy towards the growth of offsets of “pups.” These pups are identical clones of the mother plant and her way of passing along genetic information for future plants. While you are losing the initial plant, you are gaining one or more babies to grow.
If you care for the plant properly, you’ll end up with a pup (or two) that grows to maturity, blooms, and repeats the same process.
How Do I Care For My Plant After It Flowers?
Once a plant flowers, most people focus on encouraging it to produce offsets you can use for propagating new plants. The best way to achieve this is to continue caring for your plant the same way you did before it bloomed. Proper care provides the resources and, in turn, energy the plant needs for new growth.
- Make sure it is getting plenty of indirect bright light, and continue watering when the top of the potting soil is dry.
- Empty the tank regularly, refilling it with clean water to avoid rot.
- Fertilize the bromeliad once a month using a plant-specific fertilizer.
Should I Cut The Spent Flower Off My Bromeliad Plant?
If you don’t intend to grow the pups, it isn’t necessary to cut the dying flower off of the mother plant. You can leave it and allow it to wither—or get rid of the plant entirely. If you intend to grow the pups, it’s best to cut the flower off, directing resources to the offsets and promoting their growth.
Use sanitized scissors or pruning shears to cut the dying blossom off, making sure to remove it from the base of the stem where it attaches to the parent plant.
Is It Possible To Get A Bromeliad Bloom A Second Time?
Technically, it isn’t possible to get a plant to bloom a second time. These plants aren’t like poinsettias. While there are some exceptions to this rule, most plants only bloom once, although the blooms typically last an incredibly long time.
What Do Pups Look like?
Pups commonly develop after the plant blooms, but they can form at any time if your plant is healthy and robust. When they are little, they won’t reveal a flower, which sometimes makes it hard to distinguish them from foliage growth. However, you will be able to see a central cup forming as the offset grows from the mother plant’s base.
Some plants only grow one offset at a time, but it is possible to have multiples growing simultaneously.
How Soon Can I Remove Little Pups After They Start Growing?
When you remove pups is a balancing act. You want to leave it attached to the parent plant as long as possible. When connected to the mother, the offset takes resources from her, maturing faster once removed. However, when pups are removed, the original bromeliad focuses all its energy on producing new offsets.
It’s recommended to leave pups on the original plant until they are one-third to one-half the mature size. At this point, you can detach it from the base and put it into its container.
Potting Up New Pups
After gently removing a pup from the parent, you’ll want to put it into a well-draining potting mix to avoid rot. These new babies have small root systems, so they are very susceptible to rot. Opt for a bromeliad or orchid potting soil or mix your own using equal amounts of peat, sand or perlite, and tree bark.
Before planting, dip the cut end into a fungicide and rooting hormone and place it in a new pot. It may seem like the plant is top-heavy, but don’t plant it too deeply in an effort to keep it upright. Instead, use popsicle sticks or plant stakes to hold it up until the root system develops and it can support its own weight.
Encouraging a New Pup To Bloom
In many cases, new bromeliad pups won’t flower for a few years, so you’ll need to demonstrate some patience. It can take three to six years after transplanting for plants to reach maturity and blossom. But, after three or four years, you can help encourage flower growth to speed maturity along and promote flowering.
- Add dissolved Epsom salts to the central tank to encourage chlorophyll and flower production every month.
- Empty the water tank and place a small ripe apple in the depression. Cover the plant with a clear plastic bag, sealing it tightly around the pot, and put the bromeliad back in its usual spot. The apply slowly decays, releasing ethylene gas, and encouraging a new bloom to grow.