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Bromeliad Care: What To Do After Your Bromeliad Blooms

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Bromeliad care indoors is quite easy if you know some critical things…and I have an amusing story to prove it.  One day at work, one of my coworkers was asking me a plant question (I’m notorious as the go-to guy for plant questions), and when I finished advising him, he proceeded to tell me a story of his mother’s bromeliad that was languishing. 

It just wasn’t doing well, so he plucked the plant away from his mother, brought it into work, and gave it to an agreeable co-worker who then placed it in his office to care for the plant.

He then proceeded to tell me that the plant was supposed to have water in its central cup, which his mother didn’t know, and it has been doing well ever since in its new home.   Well……duh.  I could have told him that.

And this brings me to my blog post on bromeliad care indoors!  Despite their very exotic good-looks, they are easy to take care of once you know what they like.  I know, I know…I say that about almost everything. 

But I really mean it.  Keep reading and if you follow my guidance, you will be able to grow these beautiful plants very easily too!

Bromeliad Facts

Before I go into bromeliad care, it is always very helpful to know where and how these plants grow in nature.  My post will focus on the “Urn Plant,” or Aechmea fasciata, but the care instructions are the same for all bromeliads.  The Urn Plant just happens to be my favorite!

These plants are native to the jungles of Brazil and they are epiphytes, much like many orchids.  Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants (most commonly on other trees), and they obtain their moisture and nutrients from the humid air, rain and organic debris that falls on them.

How does this translate to the growing requirements for bromeliad care indoors?  Keep reading and I’ll tell you.

Selecting a Plant

These are 2 photos of a bromeliad (Aechmea fasciata) that I grew from a pup and rebloomed.

bromeliad care indoors
bromeliad care indoors

Notice the beautiful pink flower bract. The bract is NOT the actual flower.  If you look closely, you’ll see the purple and pink flowers starting to emerge. 

The flowers themselves won’t last too long, but the pink bract will last for a few months!  I kept track of how long this particular one in the photo lasted, and it was a solid 5 months!

If you have a choice, select a plant where the bract isn’t fully grown yet and the purple flowers are just starting to emerge (or even before this).  This will ensure that you will have a longer time to enjoy the bract and flowers at home.

Bromeliad Care Indoors

After you bring your bromeliad home, make sure you place it somewhere where you can enjoy its stunning beauty!  Follow my tips below for light, temperature, water, and fertilizer requirements.

If you buy one Urn Plant, or any other bromeliad, I will also show you in the next section how to propagate this beauty and get them to rebloom so that you will always have an Urn Plant (or two…or three) at all times in your home!  You can always give extras away to friends…

Bromeliad Light

These plants like plenty of bright, indirect light.   You can also grow these in a bright Northern window.  If all you have is a West or South exposure window, then make sure to diffuse any bright sun with a shear curtain or blinds so that the leaves do not scorch.

I have 3 of these plants growing in an Eastern window.  This means that they get some morning sunlight which is fine.  In fact, they have been thriving in these conditions.

Re-potting Bromeliads

The good news is that when you bring your bromeliad home, assuming it is fully grown specimen, you will never need to repot it!  In fact…what a lot of people don’t know is that after a bromeliad blooms, the mother plant will start to languish and die a slow, slow death.  Sad right???

But the sliver lining on the cloud is that while the mother plant is dying, it will send out “pups” or baby plants at the base!  More on this later when I talk about how to propagate your baby bromeliads, but here is a photo of a pup growing off of the plant that I showed previously above:

bromeliad care indoors

Bromeliad Watering

Never let your bromeliad potting media dry out completely.  On the other end however, make sure that it’s not soggy either.  Remember, these plants grow on trees in nature so all the extra water just drains away.

If you have your plant siting in a saucer to catch water, or if the plastic pot is slipped into a decorative pot with no holes, please ensure that it is not sitting in water for an extended period of time otherwise the plant will rot.

Another very important fact that you must do is ensure that there is water in the central cup at all times!  Remember my co-worker’s mother’s plant?  Yeah, don’t do what she did.

Bromeliads, Urn Plant, Aechmea fasciata

Bromeliad Fertilizer

In nature, as it rains, water will collect in the central rosette of leaves.  Any organic matter, bugs, etc, will also fall in the cup and help to nourish the plant. 

In the house though, unless you want a flourishing cesspool of rotting vegetation and bugs, I would suggest simply using one drop of liquid fertilizer into the cup every time you refill the cup.

At least once a month or so, to make sure that the water doesn’t smell and go stagnant, gently tip the plant over to empty the water out of the rosette and fill it back up with fresh water. 

Use tepid water…remember these are tropical plants from the rainforest and they don’t appreciate cold water.

I really like using the following fertilizer, available on Amazon, Grow More Bromeliad & Tillandsia fertilizer.  I’ve used this with great results, and it is also wonderful for air plants or Tillandsias!

Remember, all Tillandsias are Bromeliads, but not all bromeliads are tillandsias.  But you can use this fertilizer for both.  And since we’re on that topic, check out my blog post on growing tillandsias or air plants.

Bromeliad Temperature

These plants need warm conditions to do their best.  Average indoor temperatures are fine.  If you have an especially cold room, it may not be the best spot for them. 

Ensure that nighttime temperatures are at least 55F (13C) and daytime temperatures should be a minimum of 65F (18C).  Of course, they prefer warmer.

Bromeliad Pups

Here comes the fun part!  As I mentioned, once Mamma Urn Plant is past her prime, the pink bract will start to look ugly and unsightly.  Just clip it off at this point and keep up your normal care.

You’ll notice that the plant will SLOWLY start to look more ragged and that’s normal!  The mother plant will die very slowly after it blooms, but then you should see bromeliad pups emerging from the base.  Each plant will bloom only once.

I happened to be at a garden center and saw this very phenomenon on their clearance rack so  snapped a photo.  (I was tempted to buy it but I already had separated 3 pups from my own plant a couple years ago).

Bromeliads, Urn Plant, Aechmea fasciata

Note the two pups at the base of the plant.  You COULD just leave the pups there and then just cut off the mother plant once it is dead and unsightly, but I like the shape and form of a single Urn Plant in one pot.

All you need to do is wait until the bromeliad pups are about half the size of the mother plant and then you can separate them. 

I will tell you how I’ve done it in the past and some of you might get a little squeamish, especially those of you that are always scared to trim anything off of a plant. 

You’ll want each baby plant to have a chunk of the root system.  In my case, I had 3 baby plants that I separated.

Now on to the “surgery” that I want you to perform.  What I did was took a good pair of pruners and cut the mother plant right off at the base.  *GASP*  I know.  Just get over it and throw her in your compost pile!

Then I took the whole plant out of its pot, and with a thin saw or knife, I carefully sawed the root ball to separate each pup. 

Don’t get too close to the baby plants because you don’t want to saw them off!  Carefully saw away until each pup has a piece of the root ball.

After this point, just pot the babies up!  I used 5 inch clay pots for mine, and they will remain in that pot for their whole life.  You definitely do NOT want to overpot these plants.  They prefer to stay in smaller pot sizes and do not have extensive roots systems.

Since they are epiphytes, the extra porosity from the clay pots offer more oxygen to the roots.  Not to say that you can’t use plastic pots though.  Just water more carefully and don’t let the roots get too soggy.   

Be extra attentive especially in the beginning to not overwater.  At the same time, they should never become fully dried out.

As far as the soil to use, bromeliads actually aren’t too picky with potting media.  You can either buy a bromeliad soil mix, or if you’re like me, you can just make your own because it’s easy and they’re not picky.

You can use a 50/50 mix of ordinary potting soil and some orchid bark mix which are available on Amazon.  The bark mix will help to provide a looser soil.  Plus you can also use it for your orchids!

You can also take ordinary potting soil and add perlite (many types are available from Amazon) and some orchid bark mix.  Or even 50/50 potting soil and perlite.   Some plants are even planted in sphagnum moss. 

The bottom line is that they are not too picky, and just need excellent drainage and should be allowed to dry out a bit, but not completely between waterings.

After you’ve potted up your pups, just follow the care I’ve outlined in the and enjoy!  I know what you’re now thinking though…so I’ll jump right to it.

Bromeliad Flower Facts

Front the time you separate the pups, left on their own, they may take 4-5 years or so to bloom.  However, if you’re sick of waiting I have a trick for you.  Granted, you need to wait until the plant is a good size. 

Wait until each baby plant grows to the size of her (deceased) mother, or close.

What I want you to do now, is take your bromeliad, empty the water out of its central cup and place it inside a big, clear plastic bag with no holes (or a light colored one but make sure it is see-through). 

Then place a couple apples inside the bag.  And yes, you read that correctly!  Apples.

Tie up the bag and let the bromeliad stay in the bag with the two apples for about a week.  Keep it out of direct sun, but try keeping it in a location with bright indirect light.

The apples give off ethylene gas as they ripen, and this will help trigger blooming.  After about a week, take the plant out of the bag, fill the central cup with water, return the plant to its window, and resume normal care.

Approximately 2-3 months or so after you do this, you should see a flower bract emerge from the central cup!  This will work for any bromeliad. 

But remember, the plant should be a good size before you force it to bloom.  If you get sick of waiting for it to bloom on its own, the apple method will work.

Did you know that pineapples are bromeliads too?  I grew a pineapple once from the top of a grocery store pineapple.  I forced it to bloom using this method and grew my very own pineapple!

If you’d like to know how to grow pineapples at home from a grocery store fruit, check out my pineapple blog post.

Have you grown any bromeliads?  Which ones are your favorite?

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

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Crystal

Saturday 15th of September 2018

Hey there, I recently stumbled upon your IG account and now your blog posts. I love them!!! I have several Urn plant pups that I separated from the dying mother plant I bought that had already flowered. I neeed help please!!! The pups do ok for a while, but then they start dying while simultaneously producing more pups. They aren’t flowering at all, though - and honestly I don’t believe they are even maturing enough to flower before they start producing pups and dying. Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong? I just want to get one large, healthy, and mature enough to possibly flower.

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Tuesday 18th of September 2018

I would need to see some photos and would need more details on how you are caring for them in order to help. Send me an email at theohiotropics.com with this information and I will try and help.

BABI Franklin

Monday 19th of March 2018

Hi so I'm wondering if I have to pull out the pink flower bract or can you leave it ? Will it regrowth back? Or once it's gone it's gone?

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Saturday 24th of March 2018

Hi there! Once the pink flower bract fades, it is done. I wouldn't pull it out, but rather take a pair of scissors and cut the bract off as low as you can without injuring the leaves. Each plant will bloom only once and start a very slow process of dying. But the plant will produce baby plants at its base so you can continue the cycle :-)

Barbara

Wednesday 7th of February 2018

I cut the flower off about six weeks ago, and now have three pups. The mother plants leaves are still going strong. Babies are about one third to one have the size of mom, and growing under the momsleaves. Can I just leave them, or must I get the pups out. Thank you for any advice, loving this blog,

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Wednesday 7th of February 2018

Great news! You don't have to separate the pups out. It just depends on what look you want...if you want to have single specimen plants, or a cluster of plants together. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog!

tanya

Tuesday 19th of December 2017

We have this very same plant at home and with each passing day it seems to turn bad!! The trick of filling water in the central cup was unknown to us and also many other points you mentioned here!!

This post is very much helpful ... I'm going to follow your instructions to get my bromeliad back.

One question I have here. The white spots on the leaves of the plant.... are these a result of chlorinated water? or is that natural for this plant? My plant had the same and I cleaned it off with a wet cloth...!!

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Tuesday 19th of December 2017

Hi Tanya! Thank you for commenting and I'm glad you found the post to be helpful! As far as white spots, without seeing a photo, I won't be able to know for sure. But that being said, my guess is that the white spots are hard water deposits on the leaves from tap water possibly. Can you email me a picture? [email protected] and then I will be able to help you more :-) Also, the plants do have a white mottling on the leaves though and this is how they grow. I'd have to see a picture to be sure.

Diane Austin

Sunday 26th of November 2017

I'm going to love your blog!! Full of helpful info!

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Sunday 26th of November 2017

Thank you! Let me know if there are any topics you'd like me to write about :-)