Growing Bromeliads Together Part 3

Author: Celeste BoothNo Comments

Care and Culture, Uncategorized

The best way to learn about growing a bromeliad is through experience. In order to learn more together we have started a series about about growing bromeliads by a guest author. Sarah is a first time bromeliad owner with limited previous houseplant experience. She is raising two bromeliads and sharing her adventure and acquired knowledge with us. If you need to catch up on the previous posts, you can find the first one here and the second one here.

The bromeliads are still alive, which makes me feel pretty proud! They have had a few rough patches but they are hanging in there and still growing. 

A Flower

Flowering Tillandsia 1

A small purple flower emerges from the center of the plant.

The biggest bromeliad victory this month was when the Tillandsia ionantha flowered. Around the end of January a little purple flower started poking its way out of the center of the plant. It stuck around for about three weeks and is just now beginning to shrivel and retreat into the plant. The plant blushed a pretty red color, but not quite as bright as I was expecting. I continued to soak the Tillandsia in a small dish of distilled water even with the flower. I am curious if the flower would have stayed longer if I had misted the plant instead.

I was worried when the plant fell from the window frame where it is hung. A few of the tips of the leaves were broken back and damaged a bit, but the rest of the plant seems to be fine. The hot glue holding the plant to the twine also came undone. I just reattached it with more hot glue, but I may need to look into a better method to help it adhere to the twine more permanently.

A Tillandsia Family

Tillandsia Flower 2

A front view of the flower

Now that the flower is dying back, I won’t expect any more. Most bromeliads including my Tillandsia will only flower once. After that they put their energy into making little offshoots. Eventually, the original plant will die. Supposedly Tillandsias make these little offshoots, also called pups, fairly rapidly so you can end up with a big blooming clump of Tillandsias in different stages of flowering. There is no sign of a pup yet, but I am hoping I will see something soon. I am excited for my Tillandsia family to grow. Though I have a feeling it will take quite awhile to develop the giant, well rounded ball of plants that I see so often in pictures.

Too Wet and Too Dry?

The Guzmania lingulata ‘Teresa’ is a bit more difficult to care for. If you remember from the last post, I left the plant in the small pot it was shipped in and put a few small decorative rocks around the top to steady the plant and to make it look pretty. I think the rocks kept the potting mix from drying out fast enough and the bottoms leaves began to turn yellow and rot. The bottom center of the plant also began to feel a bit squishy when I gently squeezed it. I removed the rocks from around the plant. I also cut back on the amount of water I was giving the plant. I had been watering once a week, thoroughly soaking the whole pot and allowing it to drain. Now I only water the plant every week and a half. Instead of getting the soil wet, I try to put water only into the central cup. This new strategy worked and the plant began to look a bit better.

Preparing the Pot

The rocks in the bottom help fill space and encourage drainage.

This week I also repotted the plant in a different pot. It is now in a ceramic pot that is a bit larger. Hopefully the ceramic pot will dry out faster than the old plastic one. I placed a handful of rocks on the bottom, so I wouldn’t have to use as much potting soil and so the soil would water would drain faster through the pot. Then I added a potting mix. I used Miracle Grow’s orchid potting mix. This is the only potting mix available at our small town Walmart that I thought would work for a bromeliad. The mix is primarily large chunks of bark. Water runs through it very quickly. It should stay nice and dry so the roots won’t rot.

The plant is very top heavy. I haven’t used a stake yet, but if it seems unsteady I may try to find something to prop and hold it up a bit. At least until the roots are stable.

Another problem I am facing with the Guzmania is that the very tips of the leaves are turning brown and a few brown spots are developing on the sides of the leaves. This means it is not getting enough humidity. Its so tricky that my little plant can be too dry and too wet at the same time! I think misting might be the best way to solve this problem too. I was trying to avoid buying a spray bottle, but I think it will be the best way to keep both these bromeliads happy. Spray bottles are easy to get so I don’t know why I’ve been holding out.

Potting Medium

The potting medium is a very coarse bark. You can also see a brown leaf tip in this picture.

Potted Guzmania

The Guzmania in its new pot.

Still Growing

Despite the quirks and troubles my little Guzmania is facing, it still seems to be growing. It is sending up new small leaves in the central cup. It is not blushing yet and doesn’t show and sign of flowering. These plants take a long time to mature so I am trying to be patient and keep my plant from getting too stressed while I wait for it to grow and produce a flower.

A Bit of Neglect

I have been moving the pot back and forth quite a bit from the table in the window to a shelf out of the way. Occasionally I forget to move it back and the plant will spend a day or two in the dark. We have also had plenty of dreary days when the light level is fairly low. So far he plant doesn’t seem to mind this. It hasn’t really changed the color of the leaves in response to the lack of light. Although, this may contribute to the difficulties it has with drying out too slowly.

While I need to be attentive to the needs of my little bromeliads and be willing to adjust my strategy, so far they are not too demanding. They survive well when I forget them for a few days and have continued growing even though they have had a few problems. Many other indoor plants would not have done so well with such little attention. What bromeliads are you trying to grow? What problems have you faced? Have you found any great solutions?

Sources

“Getting to Know the Guzmania Bromeliad.” Bromeliads.info <http://www.bromeliads.info/guzmania-bromeliad/>

“Exploring the Tillandsia Bromeliad.” Bromeliads.info. <http://www.bromeliads.info/tillandsia-bromeliad/>

“How to Troubleshoot Bromeliad Problems.” Bromeliads.info <http://www.bromeliads.info/troubleshooting-bromeliad-problems/>

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