Bromeliad Blooming: An Overview

Author: Melanie Dearringer78 Comments

Blooming

Bromeliads are stunning plants that are known for their vibrant inflorescence and beautiful foliage. While they are generally easy to care for, they can sometimes be stubborn when it comes to blooming. There are many factors that affect your bromeliad’s ability to bloom. Water, lighting, temperature, and humidity all play an important role in the blooming process.

Water

Many bromeliads are epiphytes, meaning they use their roots to anchor themselves to other plants. In the wild, you will often find bromeliads attached to trees. They are non-parasitic, and do not feed off the plant on which they are attached. Instead, they absorb water from rainfall and nutrients provided from the air. Because bromeliads are use to receiving their water in quick bursts, it is important to not overwater them when planted in containers. The soil should be kept moist but not constantly wet. If the bromeliad has a central tank, a rosette of overlapping leaves at the center of the plant, it should be kept full of water. Be sure to flush the tank regularly to prevent disease and build up. Rainwater and distilled water should be used over tap water when possible. Tap water may contain elements that can expedite mineral build up.

Some bromeliads are grown outside of a potting mix. Tillandsias, as an example, are commonly displayed mounted to pieces of wood. Bromeliads that do not have their roots in potting mix should be misted regularly. These types of bromeliads can also be watered using the dunking method. Simply soak the bromeliad in water for approximately 10 minutes. The plant will take in all the water it requires to stay hydrated. If you choose this method, it is important to remove all excess water after the dunk to prevent rot.

Lighting

Lighting diagramYour bromeliad needs adequate light in order to produce a bloom. While different bromeliads require different lighting, it is safe to say that most bromeliads prefer indirect light. Knowing what kind of bromeliad you are caring for is key to being able to provide it the correct amount of lighting. If you are unsure of the type of bromeliad you have, it is generally true to say if your bromeliad has hard leaves it will prefer hard light. Alternatively, if your bromeliad features soft leaves, it will most likely prefer softer light.

Temperature

To produce beautiful, long-lasting blooms, bromeliads must produce energy in the form of carbohydrates during the day when the temperature is high and store that energy at night when the temperature drops. This temperature fluctuation is necessary to produce blooms. Without a day-night fluctuation of 10F to 15F, the plant will grow plenty of healthy foliage but may stubbornly refuse to flower. A night temperature of 60F is ideal for optimum growth. Daytime temperatures should range between 70F and 80F. Most bromeliads can tolerate temperatures as high as 100F for short periods of time as long as proper humidity and air circulation are maintained.

Humidity

Humidity requirements vary from species to species. Some bromeliads grow naturally in areas that are arid and desert like, while others grow in tropical rainforest climates. When grown indoors, bromeliads require a humidity level of approximately 40 to 60% for optimal growth. This can be achieved through the use of a humidifier or humidity tray near the plant. You can also place the bromeliad in close proximity to other plants to increase the humidity to that immediate area.

Blooming Considerations

In the world of the bromeliads, temperature, light, and humidity work in conjunction with one another. And unless a harmonious relationship is achieved between them, optimum growth is not possible. In instances of low humidity, high temperatures can be dangerous; in the case of too much atmospheric moisture, the effects of low temperatures can be over-emphasized.

Force Blooming

When all else fails, you may be able to force your bromeliad to bloom. Research on the flowering process has shown that bromeliads can be induced to flower by exposing them to ethylene gas. After exposure to the ethylene gas, the flowers should appear within 6 to 14 weeks depending on the genus involved. ApplesA simple method that can be used to force a bromeliad bloom is to place the plant in a clear plastic bag along with a ripe apple for a week to 10 days. The plant must be healthy and mature. Be sure to drain the water from the bromeliad’s central tank before placing it in the tightly sealed bag.  During senescence (the aging process), the apple releases ethylene gas that, in turn, tells the plant to halt leaf production and induces the bromeliad to flower.

Chemicals such as “Ethrel” and “Omaflora” are available and are effective for inducing flowering in bromeliads. However, these chemicals are tricky to regulate and may interfere with pup development. The use of these chemicals should be left to professional growers.

 

Sources
Bromeliad Society International http://www.bsi.org/bsi_info/
Tropiflora http://tropiflora.com/
Bromeliad photo credit: diane cordell via http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcordell/3862670763/

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78 Responses to “Bromeliad Blooming: An Overview”

  1. Anne says:

    I have a very large (over 2 ft in height) bromeliad in my yard that I planted nearly 2 yrs ago it has never bloomed but this year it has produces a pup what do i need to do to produce flowers with this variety?

  2. admin says:

    @Anne – Bromeliads only bloom once in their lifetime. The pups will bloom after one year of growth. After the pups have grown for about 12 months you can throw some old fruit around the roots to promote blooming.

    1. Mary Sparrowdancer says:

      I have not found this to be true. I have had bromeliads over the years that have bloomed repeatedly – spectacular blooms, in fact.

      1. patsy says:

        my bromeliad has bloomed twice, granted it was 10 years between blooms but it is a healthly green plant..and have transplanted the pups

        1. Wilbert Armstrong says:

          I also have Bromelaids rapidly producing pups. They do bloom more than once. Fruit does indeed promote blooms. I got a pup from my Sister, almost 10 yrs old. I started out knowing nothing, but consider myself a pro now. I have so many plants I need to give some away. They are by no means a cheap plant, I just like sharing.

  3. Dorothy Ricciardi says:

    I have an indoor bromeliad plant. The single large flower in the middle was in bloom when I got my bromeliad. Now it looks like the flower and the stem have both started to die. Should I try to remove the flower and the stem? There are many pups growing around it. The bromeliad gets good light in the afternoons from my window. Thanks for the help!

    1. joe says:

      mp comment

    2. Wilbert Armstrong says:

      The blooms should have been cut off as low a possible. The last several months. If main plant is dying cur or off with a course cut steak knife. Let pups mature enough and re-pot. Root system is very dense. Please do not over water. They will get root rot more so when blooming. Remember, find a spot with filtered light, no sun in any way. They are like peace Lillie’s, find that perfect spot don’t move it. Happy growing.

  4. admin says:

    @Dorothy – You can cut the flower and stem off, but it’s not needed for the bromeliad to stay healthy. You can transplant the pups and they will be ready to flower after one year of growth. The mother bromeliad will never flower again. Good luck!

  5. Rick Trani says:

    On the care of my bromeliad, (pink flower in the middle) nice healthy frost-green leaves. If I remove the two pups now one large and one smaller one, will it end the bloom of my mother plant?

    1. Karla says:

      What do I do with the mother plants that have had a pup/s and now is sgragtly. Leaves have grown long and untidy.

  6. Elena says:

    I have an bromeliad plant in my office. It has a flower bud that hasn’t bloomed. I’ve had it like this for about 2 months. The bud was bright red when I got it, but now it’s not so bright. Is the something wrong? How long does it take the bud to bloom?

  7. Rachel says:

    I am not sure that all bromeliads only bloom once. My mother has a bromeliad that has bloomed for the last five years. I have also been successful in forcing one of my bromeliads to bloom a second time.

  8. Suzanne Fountain says:

    To promote my Bromeliad to flower, do I just throw an apple or the like near the base of the plant, or does the fruit have to be cut up or dig into the soil. Suzanne

  9. Rosalinda Aguirre says:

    What kind of “potting soil” is best for transplanting the pups in a bromeliad. I have a beautiful potted one with 3 different varieties and each one has a pup. Want to transplant. Do you just pull them away or cut them off?

  10. admin says:

    @ Rosalinda. It’s important not to remove the pups too soon. The offsets feed off of the deteriorating tissues of the parent plant. Also be aware that the offsets will die without rooting if the humidity is too low or if the pups are taken when too small. Even then the young pups may or may not have developed a root system of their own. Do not pot your pups until some roots have developed; with no roots to anchor them they can topple over. If it seems time to pot your pups, but their roots still look a little measly, for the first 3 to 4 weeks after repotting offsets, enclose them in a plastic bag to maintain very humid conditions (this should help the roots to grow more quickly). Check out my post on Propagating Bromeliads for more information on how and when to remove the pups.

    After roots have developed your pups should be potted into a mixture of equal volumes of coarse sand and peat moss in a small pot, watered in and grown on in the normal conditions suitable for the type of bromeliad plant concerned. Subsequent watering is carried out at intervals and only when the compost is dry. There is no one potting mix which is better than any other, however, the following mixes are suggested:

    * One part peat, one part bark, one part coarse sand
    * One part peat, one part bark, one part perlite
    * One part peat, one-half part leaf mold, one part coarse sand

    You may want to check out my post on Bromeliad Soil for more info.

    I hope some of this information has helped. Thanks for joining our community, and happy growing! 🙂

  11. Maya says:

    I bought a bromeliad which had an unopened red flower sticking out of the middle cup. The only window I have to put it in doesn’t get any direct or bright sunlight. I never overwater and mist once or twice a day. But two weeks or so after I got it home, the beautiful red flower never opened and began to turn brown and died. So I pulled it out of the plant. Was this the right thing to do? Will it ever flower again? Also, I am getting brown, dead spots on a few of my leaves. PLEASE HELP!!!

  12. Shannon says:

    I have a bromelaid that has already bloomed and there are no pups in the pot. Do I have a chance of seeing anything else, or do I just have greenery now?

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Pups don’t always show up right when the flower begins to fade. Give it some time and they should show up.

  13. rick trani says:

    The same bromeliad I reported in ’06 had a total of six pups. The longer I left them on mom the larger the pups got. They have only been in their own pot for 4 months and I am trying the plastic and fruit thing. The first time I tried fruit around the root all it did was draw fruit flies (gnats). happily they were treated succuessfully. what are your thoughts?

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      You may need to let the pups mature a bit more before they will blossom. Pups should be ready for to bloom at around 12 months.

  14. Shelley says:

    I have the same question as a previous post (that got no answer). Do I cut away or tear away the pups? Also, do I leave the mother plant alone or discard it…it’s not so bad off!?

    1. Wilbert says:

      I have had bromalaids for years now. Blooming is impeccable. So many pups, after they get about 7 in tall I cut with steak knife, plant in single pots. The love lots of light, direct sun will burn, kill them. Apple does work, but going to try fertilizer they recommend. In 1 yr I’ve bloomed, 6 pups and still producing more.

  15. pat says:

    Question for anyone…I got a bromeliad about 1 1/2 yrs ago, it never flowered, nor did it ever have a bloom! What should i do? the plant itself has grown but no shoots!

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Pat you could try to force bloom your bromeliad. Here’s more info regarding how to do that: http://www.bromeliads.info/forcing-bromeliads-to-bloom/

  16. Sherri says:

    Once a plant has bloomed should the stalk be cut off?

    Thanks,
    Sherri

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Yes, you can cut it off. Use a sterile knife and cut close to the base without harming the rest of the plant.

  17. Edna Searles says:

    I just purchased a bromeliad (bromeliac.cae) last Friday. Its leaves are turning brown at the ends. I repotted the plant last Monday and I have been keeping it in the living room,where the light is not bright. Please help me because I don’t know what is wrong.

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      You may need to give your bromeliad more water.

  18. Barbara says:

    I have 2 bromeliad the flower in the middle of both has turned brown. One of them looks like it has died the bulb is still in the pot. The other plant it still has green leafs but has some little one coming up around the bottom. Can I repot the small ones? I’m not real sure how to care for these plants. I just know the ones that I have seen are very pretty. I really would like to keep these for a very long time.

  19. Evelyn says:

    My new bromeliad, given to me, was repotted about two weeks ago. Now the beautiful red bloom is turning green.
    Help!

  20. Donna says:

    Still hoping for an answer to how to remove the spent bloom. Anyone? Cut or tear or will it just fall off eventually?

    1. Bob says:

      Cut the spent bloom off.

  21. Suzanne says:

    I would like an answer as to why the bloom of my bromeliad has turned green.

  22. chevy peterson says:

    i have a bromeliad and left it outside last night and it got down to 27 i think it might have got frost bite how do i take care of it do i clip it or what all the help you can give chevy

  23. Mary McGuinness says:

    I have a bromeliad which was bright scarlet when I bought it 6 months ago. The colour has faded and looks very dull. There are also three ‘pups’ which are empty and appear to be ‘crowding’ the mother plant. The mother has bloomed bright yellow flowers which I have removed. Should I remove the empty pups?

    1. Bob says:

      No, leave the pups until they have roots of their own. Then cut the pups and plant in a separate pot.

  24. Shelly Hillman says:

    I purchased a Bromeliad for my office, one with 2 yellow spikes that fade into red. I noticed today that one of the sword-like blooms has small stamens suddenly growing out of it. Is this normal? Good? Bad?

  25. Joan Spiegel says:

    What do we do after the bromelaid has bloomed? Do we cut it off? Do we continue with the watering? Is it dead? I keep it indoors. It was purchased two months ago. It has bloomed and the bloom is finished.

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Yes, you can cut it off. Continue watering your bromeliad as it will now focus its energy into producing pups (new bromeliad plants).

  26. Janet Grogan says:

    My bromelaid is doing very well. However, the bloom is now very faded. It is an indoor plant. Do I cut the bloom or stem off. The plant has (2) pups on the perimeter of the plant. The plant looks very healthy. It is in a window with my orchids, east exposure. Thanks.jmg

  27. Lisa says:

    I had gotten a bromeliad from work, and the bloom eventually died off, but the plant will continue to live. Mine had 3 pups already, and now 2 more are growing. So the mother should continue to produce pups. I think it has been about 2 months since she last had pups. The ones I had transplanted, are growing… slowly… but apparently it takes a year for it to be mature.

  28. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Thank you! Glad you find it helpful.

  29. ofelya says:

    i got a bromelaid as a present it was the first time i saw the flower so i was a little mean to it and it died but i took it and put it in a pot and i water it hopin it would grow and give me another flower is it possible would it grow again or do i need to go get another one 🙁 help pls

  30. Amanda says:

    I have a pinapple looking thing in a pot my mom gave me years ago since then she has passed and I really wanna keep it but its getting way to big can I cut it down if so how should I do it?Please Help…

  31. Karen Thom says:

    Help!!!
    My bromelaid was gorgeous. Lived on screened in porch around Gulf of Mexico. 3 pups are getting rather large and need to be separated from Mom. I cut one out that had no roots. Let it dry for 2 days, as instructed. Now, it’s in it’s own pot. Will it develop roots and live and flower. I’m waiting to hear so I don’t kill the other 2 babies.

  32. Carla says:

    Hi, My plants flowers turned brown, and I was able to pull them out. The leaves are fine. I read that they only bloom once. Is there any way to make them bloom or look good again? Thanks for your information!

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      No, bromeliads just bloom once. You can cut away the dead flower if you like and the plant will produce pups (new bromeliad plants). Once the pups are 1/3 – 1/2 the size of the mother plant, they can be cut off and potted. These will eventually bloom beautifully for you!

  33. carla says:

    i was a bromeliad plant a few times in my life, the first 2 didnt go so well, but i love them so much i just got a new one from home depot, but it most def doesnt look like any other one i have seen and it was really pretty so i got it and brought it home. it has green shoots and little spikes at ends and in the middle of the shoots the flower has a every thick stock and its like pink maybe like fur. the flower its self as every many pink leaves, and thick fat pink buds these buds are blooming first it was like a brown seed looking thing comeing out, then after awhile the brown seed fell off or opened up, but now in its place there is this white thick thing coming out, now there is many of these, im just trying to understand this plant. does this sound like a bromeliad?

  34. Marsha Rexroat says:

    I hve a Bromeliad which my husband got for me after my last chemo treatment. It is truly beatiful. But the same tag with the plant only mentions placing it in a bright sunny room, which I have done my main concern is in the care of it. Do you keep the soil damp? Or let it dry out before watering it again?
    Hope someone can help me. Thanks Marsha

  35. cindy trievel says:

    my flower died,will it grow again?

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      No, bromeliads bloom just once.

  36. Ron Chopyk says:

    My bromeliad has finished blooming, and has produced 3 pups, should I now remove the flower? how do I encourage the plant to produce more pups?

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Yes, removing the flower is fine. Once the pups are big enough to remove, cut them with a sterile blade and pot them. This will help encourage the mother plant to produce more, if possible.

  37. W.Bertha Boyd says:

    Leaves turning brown from outside of root at bottom. What can I do to stop this? Also can you water via the tank of the plant rather than the soil. How often should we fertilize? Help please before this beautiful plant dies.
    BB
    Balto

  38. jessica says:

    Hi, I own a Bromeliad and my 2yr old 5lb rabbit got ahold of it and ate some of the long greens on it and ate some of the plant itself 2 days ago, now today he’s bleeding out of his mouth so his stomach. I was wondering if this could have anything to do with the plant?? Please get back to me asap is an emergency, thanks.

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Jessica I would take your rabbit to the vet to be examined ASAP. Bromeliad plants are not toxic to rabbits, but it’s possible your rabbit ingested something sharp (whether it was part of the bromeliad or something else it’s hard to say).

  39. revati says:

    Hello, Is it alright to cut back bromeliad fronds if they have suffered
    frostbite? Will they recover if I cut back the brown and unsightly leaves to their bases?
    Thank you.

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      This should be fine, as long as you plan to keep your bromeliad in warmer conditions until it has recovered.

  40. Miriam says:

    My bromeliad bloom two flowers is this unique please let me know if is something special. Thanks

  41. Michael says:

    When you say ‘leave the pups on the mother plant as long as you can’ how long should/can that be?

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      Michael, your pups should at least be 1/3 the size of the mother plant before removing them. However, you can keep them attached as long as you want (the mother plant will eventually die). A general rule of thumb is to cut them off and pot them when they are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant and have some roots showing. Removing them may also get the mother plant to continue producing more pups.

  42. Robin says:

    Just got a bromeliad yesterday it’s in bloom I’ve been reading the Q&A here I’ve got a dumb question what’s a pup somebody e-mail me back please robinsavngr@aol.com thank-you God Bless!!!

    1. Sandy says:

      A new little plant which shoots on the outside of the main plant.

  43. susan nabors says:

    many repeated questions. answers from a professional botanist
    would be helpful

  44. Ashley kendyll says:

    i was wondering what i need to do with the middle bloomed flower if it is dying? do i remove that also? the leaves on the outside are dark green and healthy but the middle yellow bloom is dry and dead. please let me know!

    1. Ashley kendyll says:

      and i have already removed one pup and replanted that. there is one tiny one blooming already from the mom right now.

  45. olivia says:

    I have a bromiliad that instead of the pups on the outside of the plant, they have formed on the inside of the plant. as soon as they started forming the bloom turned brown. the mother plant is still healthey.

  46. olivia says:

    This seamed unusual to me. Have you ever witnessed this before?

  47. cheryl says:

    i have a bromelaid plant the bloom died so i cut it off there is a long spikey looking thing that has come up from the root. it is hard but the tip looks like it could leaf out. it hasn’t changed in a long time.

    1. cheryl says:

      is this normal for this plant will that bloom

  48. Pauline says:

    a rabbit is eating my bromeliads. How can I stop him?

    1. Celeste Booth says:

      We’ve heard some people have success warding off rabbits using Deer Off. Here’s the Amazon Link.

  49. What’s up to every one, because I am truly eager of reading this weblog’s post
    to be updated daily. It includes nice information.

  50. Susan Blahnik says:

    I plant my bromeliads in 100% orchid bark chips. The pups grow fast and appear very happy. My 12 pups I got off my first plant are large and hoping for blooms this year.

  51. Keith Wright says:

    I have several varieties in my yard, one used to bloom with a blue spike that would turn purple and die off after about 30 days. This year they are just producing a bloom in the cup of the plant and no spike – any ideas?

  52. Wendy says:

    My bromeliad is in a pot indoors. It has bloomed twice in a year and has a number of pups. Do the pups need to be repotted or can they remain forever in the pot? I would rather not repot but is that bad for the whole plant?

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