Bromeliad Propagation: A Basic Overview

Author: Melanie Dearringer40 Comments

Propagation

Most bromeliads will bloom only once in their lifetime. As they age, they add new leaves from the center. At some point, the bromeliad will no longer be able to produce more leaves due to spacing issues and will begin to die off. Luckily, bromeliads are easy to propagate and can do so both asexually by pup production and sexually via seed.

Asexual Propagation

For a more detailed overview of asexual propagation, check out our free Guide to Bromeliad Pups.

Bromeliad pups

-Bromeliad pup

After flowering, most bromeliads will slowly die off over the next couple years. However, if you are caring for a healthy bromeliad, several pups will develop. These pups are exact clones of the mother plant and typically emerge from the base of the plant. Pups should be separated from the mother plant after they have reached 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the original plant. To remove a pup, use a sharp, sterilized blade. Use the blade to slice the pup from the mother plant. The young pup may not have developed a root system of its own. Don’t be alarmed if it hasn’t. Once separated, add more potting medium to the area where the pup has been removed from the mother and transplant the newly cut pup into a pot of its own. The mother plant, especially if helped along with a small amount of diluted fertilizer, will continue to produce pups until it dies. These new bromeliads will normally bloom in 1 to 3 years. 

Sexual Propagation

Bromeliad seeds

-Tillandsia seeds

Seed propagation is a long and tedious method of producing a large number of bromeliads at a relatively small expense. Seeds can be sown in pots or nursery flats on a surface of moist sphagnum moss or finely screened potting soil containing 50 to 75 percent organic matter. Because seeds are sown on the surface, a glass cover should be placed over the pot or flat to maintain a high humidity and prevent the medium from drying out too rapidly. Bromeliad seeds require bright, indirect light and temperatures of 70F to 80F to survive. It typically takes 10 to 14 days for plant growth to become visible.

Seedlings are usually left in the propagation container until they are 1½ and 2 inches tall and then transplanted directly to small pots. Because plants grown from seeds normally require 3 to 6 years to reach maturity, sexual propagation takes more patience than vegetative propagation. 

Sources
Bromeliad Society International http://www.bsi.org/brom_info/growing/seed-ja.html
Bromeliad pup photo credit: Gem via http://www.flickr.com/photos/its_gem/5495617750/
Tillandsia seeds photo credit: Edu via http://www.flickr.com/photos/eutima/3022907176/
Featured image photo credit: Christoph Diewald via http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris_diewald/391561745/

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40 Responses to “Bromeliad Propagation: A Basic Overview”

  1. Rick Trani says:

    Hello, recently I bought a bromeliad the type I think was testudo, it has frosty green leaves and a beautiful pink bursting flower in the center. I have fallen in love I think with these bromeliads and am investigating the several ways of propagating them. the pups haven’t yet appeared on my plant but I will keep an eye open for them. It is true that these beautiful plants require little care. I’m a beginner and I like to care for beautiful things. I’m recently the gardener at the church I go to, strictly voluntarily work but it does wonders for my frame of mind. thanks for your website, and if you have any short publications to send out I would be pleased to read them. thanks very much.

  2. admin says:

    @Rick – Bromeliads are easy to care for. They need good light, well drained soil, and a little TLC. You should see the pups soon after the bloom dies. Good luck!

  3. Paulette Weber says:

    Four months ago I bought 3 Bromeliads because they were in flower and I thought they looked nice. They don’t have names on them, I’ll have to go searching I guess. Now I find I am in love with them. They have THE most gorgeous deep rust flowers which keep opening up and surprising me more and more. They have flowered for months. This is how I am on your site – I want to find out more and more. My time is very limited and we have just built a shadehouse (we live mid coast NSW in Australia so the heat is great, drought worse,until it rains then we get a good soak, all in all it is a subtropical climate). I am a beginner so no talent only a keeness to have many more of these wonderful plants. The variety astound me. Will they do okay in the shadehouse, it is under two huge eucalypts which give shade, but 50% shadecloth is allowing light and some sun. Will I have to put them outdoors to bloom properly? You who have been with these beauties for years will think me naive or worse, I wonder why I not have paid them due attention before.

  4. admin says:

    @Paulette – The shadehouse will be perfect. Most Bromeliads do not like direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist but well drained most of the time and add some pieces of old fruit to the base to trigger blooming after one year of growth.

  5. toby says:

    I have a bromeliad that I’ve identified as being probably a guzmania. It was given to me in a glass pot growing in lots of small translucent beads. I’m new to keeping plants, but I think I’ve identified these as being Perlite.

    The flower has been and gone and it now has a pup ripe to be taken off. It has also begun to grow a noticeable root system (when I received it appeared to have no roots).

    I now have the issue of what to pot the pup in. At your best guess, do you think I should repot it in perlite like the mother, or in an appropriate soil? I’m also keen to do something with the mother, since the original beads are now looking green and sludgey, what do you think?

    If you could answer my questions I’d be very very grateful. Many thanks in advance!!

    1. matthew says:

      try some soils less mix for the pup. you dont needn anything fancy. keep it moist and be sure it drains well. from there you should be good. if you really wanted to you can keep it perlite but theres not much for nutritution in it so you would have to add some if you did. good luck

  6. Melinda says:

    I have a bromeliad that was my mothers that came from Florida. I am not sure what type it is. She had it for at least 20 years and I have had it for 4. It has never bloomed but has had lots of pups. I have it in a very large pot because it keeps growing larger and larger. What can I do to get it to bloom?

  7. admin says:

    @ Melinda-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.

    There are also chemicals such as “Ethrel” and “Omaflora” that are available and are effective for inducing flowering in bromeliads. However, these chemicals are tricky to regulate and may interfere with pup development.

    Take a look at my Bromeliad Blooming Overview, and see if any of the information there helps.

    Another route you might want to take is propagation. First refer to my Blooming Bromeliads Again article, and see if any of this applies to you. After you’ve followed the instructions in that post, refer back to my Bromeliads Propagation Overview.

    Good luck, and happy growing!

  8. Joe Terkaly says:

    In your response you say to ” throw some old fruit around the roots to promote blooming.” What do you mean by that, what is old fruit?
    Thanks

  9. admin says:

    @Joe Terkaly. Well actually it doesn’t have to be “old” fruit. I just meant the remains of what you didn’t eat, basically. You could use a ripe apple (slices) or several apple cores if you wanted.

    Check out my post Caring For Bromeliads – Fertilizer. Here you’ll find a more detailed response!

    Happy Growing!

  10. Savana says:

    Please help! I have had a bromeliad for over a year and she is starting to die off. There are two pups on her but i am not entirly sure how to cut them or where i resoil them. Would i just put them in new soil? And do i only cut the pup off of the mother plant? I really dont want to kill them in the process.

  11. admin says:

    @ Savana. It’s important not to remove the pups to soon from the mother plant, because the offsets feed off of the deteriorating tissues of the parent plant. Check out my post on Caring For Bromeliads – Propagation! This post should give you all the information you need on what to do with your new bromeliad pups!

    You may also want to take a look at my post on Blooming Bromeliads Again for tips and suggestions on what to do as your bromeliad plant is beginning to die, and it’s new pups are beginning to grow!

    I hope these posts help! Happy Growing!

  12. Jane Poole says:

    My bromeliad plant is in a shaded are but keeps growing and growing. I now have about 5-6 pups, as you call them – but they are very mature plants the size of the “mother”. Can i dig them up and move them to another location, or will they be all right to just keep multiplying in the same location? I live in Central Florida.

  13. admin says:

    @ Jane. First off welcome to our small community, I hope you find the posts here helpful! As for your pups: you should definitely separate the pups from the mother plant. If you leave them to continue to grow where they are, they’ll just continue to feed off of the mother plant, leaving it to slowly die. Plus it sounds like you’ve accumulated some great new plants that; within about a year to a year and a half of growing, should bloom!

    The mother plant sounds pretty healthy so it may put out even more pups for you! Check out my Blooming Bromeliads Again post for more tips on what to do with the mother plant and her pups!

    Make sure that the pups have developed their own roots (at this stage in growing, I’m sure your pups have roots of their own, just be sure to keep them intact when removing from the mother plant), then you can pot them in pots of their own. For more info. on which soil types to use check out my post on Caring For Bromeliads – Soil.

    For more suggestions on potting your pups, see my post Caring For Bromeliads – Repotting.

    I hope some of this informations helps! Happy growing!:)

  14. Jodi Allen says:

    I have I believe a Guzmania variety. The bloom has recently died and 1 pup is starting to grow. I see that it says to remove the pup when it is 2/3 the height of the mother plant. Do I include the flower in this measurement? The flower is all dried out now but the leaves on the bottom are still green. is it ok to cut off the dead flower? or should I keep it intact. My pup is about 5″tall. How do I get the mother to grow more pups? Any help would be appreciated.

  15. Heather says:

    How do I remove the pups that grow from the center of the mother plant?

    I have had tons of success with the type that grow from the side, but I have two variegated broms with large pups coming from the center of the mother – HELP!

  16. richard trani says:

    I’m trying to figure out what kind of soil is best for propagating pups.

    The bromeliad I have was bought from Home Depot, is thick green white frosty covering the leaves. Produced a lot of pups. Doesn’t root that well and I’m using cactus/palm/citrus potting soil presently. The blooms are beautiful pink with spikes shooting out from the bloom. wow!

  17. Patricia Gould says:

    I have found this web very interesting, I have a Bromeliad (aechmea). The flower has died, there are two pups almost the size of the mother plant. I’m going to transplant them in a cactus soil. I noticed that the mother plant is looking kinda sickly and I thought I was watering it wrong. I was just watering by pouring the water into the center of the plants and then I found out that the soil isn’t suppose to be dry, so I started to put a little water there too? Am I giving it to much TLC? This is when the mother plant started to look sickly. I would appreciate your help on the watering technique. Thank you Patricia Gould

  18. Sarah says:

    The pup on my bromeliad has been growing for about six months and is about ten inches long. Is it too late to cut it off from the mother plant? Thanks!

  19. Sarah says:

    Never mind my last post. I found the answer with a more careful read of your answers to past questions. Thanks so much for all the great information on taking care of these plants!

  20. bobby benton says:

    I have had my Bromeliad for one year. Name? The foliage looks like green leaves with grayish green tiger strips and has one flower shaped like a long red
    feather. Sides of the red flower also have little yellow sprouts. I have it indoors and appears to be in good health. I try to keep water in the base of the foliage and the plastic pot has very good drainage although I do see some of the tips of the green foliage turning brown.

    My questions are:

    How do I get it to produce another flower?

    What type fertilizer should I use?

  21. Calvin says:

    I have no idea what type of flower I have. It has a beautiful rosette, though is fairly small in general. It’s in the same four inch pot that I’ve had it for a year now and hasn’t really grown in size but is definitely alive. The leaves are fairly stiff and are forest green with lateral pinstripes of light yellow-green, with blushes of ruby.

    Anyway, I cultivated this plant as a pup from another plant about a year ago and just recently it sprouted a pup of its own, although it appears to be far from blooming. The pup is growing steadily though the mother plant is rather stagnant.

    Another anomaly is that the pup sprouted directly from the plant – above the lowermost leaf. It is in a position that would make it look like another leaf if it wasn’t cylindrical and hollow.

    Just curious – is this normal? Thanks.

  22. Sandra Prizeman says:

    My Father is wanting to grow these plants and wants to know were he can buy a shadehouse that will suit them we are in Gladstone Qld. Can anyone help with a ready made/ ready to put up shade house company that would be suitable and how much would it cost??

    Sandy

  23. Lance says:

    MY BROMELIA HAVE NOT FLOWERED IT ALMOST TWO YEARS NOW. IT JUST PROPAGATE TO 6 MORE BROMELIAD. I WOULD LIKE TO TRY YOUR BLOOMING METHOD BUT I DONT KNOW IF THE PUPS ARE 12 MONTHS. I DONT KEEP RECORDS ON WHICH IS THE FIRST PUP AND THE LAST. DO YOU KNOW HOW TO FIGURE THE AGE OF A BROMELIA?

  24. mario says:

    I have had this bromeliad for a while now, since Arbor Day I think. It was blooming when I got it a foot and a half long bright red flower that then put out vibrant yellow flowers. I’m not exactly sure what species it is but it has light green stripes and dark green stripes running across the leaves. Once it was done blooming I read that cutting the flower stalk off was good for the plant so I cut it off.
    A new plant has since sprung from another of the pools formed by the plant. The new plant is as close to heart of the original as it can be and if I tried to variegate it, both would likely die. I’m unsure what to do as you said the “mother” plant would die after blooming, which mine appears to be doing. There’s only one “pup” which is thriving. I would like to gain another bromeliad from this but if I can’t then so be it. I would like to know if leaving things as is would damage either of the plants.

  25. Jan Humphrey says:

    I don’t know what type of bromeliad I have. This summer I cut two pups off it because they both looked like mature plants themselves even though the mother showed no signs of beginning to die. She is now, though. There is one more pup near the base of the plant. It appears it would be able to live on it’s own, but should I leave it there? And, with the mother plant’s flower drying up, should I cut it off?

  26. Freida Schriner says:

    Thank you for such complete information about ‘what to do now!’ I am ready to cut the dead bloom and repot what I now know are the two pups with my first Bromeliad. I have not a clue which variety it is, but believe it to be very healthy, thank goodness. Wish me luck. It is a beautiful plant. Freida

  27. Connie Capps says:

    I bought a bromeliad last September and now has 2 pups
    growing from the side. I have cut them off and repotted them into separate pots. Now the mother plant is fixing to bloom from the top. After it blooms what do I need to do? After blooming do I cut off the flowers? What do I do next/

  28. Sharon Baker says:

    I purchased 3 of what I believe are Trichome bromeliads several years ago at a bazaar. I had no knowledge of how to care for them, and actually didn’t know what they were until it bloomed. What a spectacular sight that was. The stalk was red with a purple crown. I inquired at the nursery about what to feed the plant and they did help me with that. Now my plants are turning yellow and the trumpets are not holding water. They are in plastic pots, and seem to be overgrown if that is possible, I mean there is no room between the plant and the pot. I have not moved them to a different location so that isn’t the problem.
    I have never noticed “pups” on my plants either, is that something that this type of bromeliad doesn’t have? Last but not least, I am very concerned with the new water rationing going into effect at the end of this month, and how it is going to effect my plants. Can you give me some suggestions on the best type of watering system that I can use for these plants to make sure that all the trumpets are being filled within the time allowed? What is the least amount of watering I can do for my plants?

  29. Rose says:

    My bromeliad flower is beginning to die back and I noticed today that there was a small pup growing on the side. I don’t mind the flower looking the way it does so, I’m just going to let it die until I can pull it out (is this correct??)

    I have a few questions:

    FIRST: Should I leave he plant in the same spot it has been living in for the last few months (like I would an African Violet?) Will the pup stop growing if I even slightly change the condition (i.e. can I move to a spot with the similar lighting? Can I change the container (the decorative one, not the one it’s potted in? etc)
    SECOND: How big does the pup have to get before I remove it? Do I slice it strait off the mother? I’ve never cut the pup off one of these before so is there some sort of online video to show how to correctly do this?
    AND THIRD: When I do finally cut the pup does it have roots attached to it? If not, do I dip it in rooting hormone before I re-pot it OR do I just stick it in the soil (and how deep)

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  30. Brenda says:

    This is the first time that I have transplanted a pup, how do I know it is the right time to it, and will I be able to see the root’s without diturbing the pup.
    and one more thing, Can I leech the plant?.

  31. Doris says:

    I am at a loss, I just purchased to Bromeliads just last week and already the one looks like it is dieing. This is the one with the green frosty leaves and a beautiful pink spike like flower growing from the inside. It is beautiful however I have know idea what it is called therefore I cannot even google it to find out how to care for it. I purchased it at Lowes, I think I am going to take it back. It was absolutely gorgeous in the store and I am afraid of killing it. I really need some help with this!!! HELP, ANYONE???

  32. Martti says:

    I had three pots full of bromeliads that died due to the abnormally intense winter in Mobile, Alabama. Or at least I thought they had died. I dug up the root system and begin to throw away the whole plant when I discovered pale pups attached to a swollen root similar to a carrot although it was brown. I planted it in some soil, and only one of the pups have sprouted above the surface. Are any of the other roots viable because they seem supple and are definitely difficult to break? I don’t want to dispose of a perfectly viable root system.

  33. Norman Kelley says:

    Nice information at this website! The most number of “Keikis” (Hawaiian for “kids” or children) I’ve gotten from a single plant is 12. That would qualify the mother plant to be a “Grand Multipara”! To separate the keikis from the mother plant with minimum damage, I use a very sharp and non-flexible, straight, boning knife. There is no shredding or chewed-up appearance to the mother plant, which I can re-pot and with luck, get some more keikis. Thanks!

  34. Sonia says:

    I bought a bromeliad for holistic purposes (to help me sleep). It was in bloom & soon saw the pups. I followed the directions found here. One pup looks normal. The other grew 2 stems with curly leaves looking nothing like the plant. I know nothing about this plant. Help anyone? What are these growths and how do I care for them?

  35. Tara says:

    My mother bromeliad has bloomed and now the bloom is brown (just about dead I think) what should I do with it?

    I have 1 new pup growing so I don’t want to do anything to harm that but the brown bloom from mom just looks horrible….

    1. admin says:

      You can cut off the bloom. It won’t harm the bromeliad pup.

  36. Cecilia says:

    I have a bromeliad that has 3 shoots coming off above the soil surface. Can I cut these off like the pups that develop under the surface? I don’t want to lose any of them if it can be avoided. The “mother” plant is still healthy looking but I’m afraid the shoots may be draining it unnecessarily.

  37. Jason & Karen says:

    Dear bromeliad expert:

    Our bromeliad had a bright red bloom when we bought it, and it looked good for the first month that we kept it indoors. Two months ago, some of the green leaves began to turn brown, gradually getting worse until the entire plant including the bloom had become withered and brown.

    Despite the mother plant dying, 3 pups emerged about a month ago. Although they haven’t grown much since then, now they are 2-3 cm tall.

    In the past week, our bromeliad has looked worse and worse, with brown spreading to almost the entire surface of every leaf and the whole plant leaning to one side. The stem was kinked in two places and smelled like it was rotting, so I decided to remove it. Because the stem was soft and wet, I was able to simply rip off the stem near the base without pulling up the underground portion.

    Afterwards, I realized that the pups weren’t tall enough (1/3 the size of the mother) as suggested . What can I do to ensure they survive without the mother plant? Should I have left the dying, rotting mother in place or did I do the right thing?

    Is it bad to leave bromeliads indoors with the air conditioning running? I read that they like humidity. Is there any way to keep them inside with the AC on?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Jason & Karen

  38. Amanda says:

    Hello,
    I have had a bromeliad with silver/green leaves and a pink central flower that has been in bloom since February (possibly before). Within the past 2 weeks it got tiny purple then red flowers in the central bloom, then the pink petals turned a grayish color. The stalk has now withered, and as I changed the water in the cup today the central stalk fell out, the bottom all brown and slightly smelly.
    This is my first bromeliad, and I am unsure how to proceed in caring for it. I have looked for pups, but am not sure what I should be looking for, and where the pups should be located.

    Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you!

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