Winter Checklist for Bromeliad Enthusiasts
Author: Celeste Booth2 Comments
As temperatures are dropping and climates become inhospitable for most bromeliads there are a few things you can do for some winter clean up and spring preparation. Here is a checklist of things you should be doing for your bromeliads during the winter season.
MOVE TO INDOOR LOCATION
Bromeliads that are in containers can be kept inside throughout the winter. Many will thrive and produce offshoots if they are given the proper care. As soon as temperatures threaten to dip below freezing bring your bromeliads in. There are a few species, especially in the Dyckia and Hechtia genera, that can handle a few dips into the twenties. However, due to their primarily tropical nature, almost all other bromeliads will need to be brought inside.
Find a sunny spot with plenty of bright, indirect light and humidity for your bromeliads to spend the winter. If you don’t have high humidity, you may want to add a humidifier. It will help the plants thrive, and it will improve the atmosphere for you too.
CHECK FOR PESTS
Anytime you bring in a plant from outside you want to check for pests. Look over all of the leaves, especially on the undersides and at the axils where the leaf meet the stem. Keep you indoor plants separate from your usual house plants for a few weeks. This will give any unseen eggs left on the plants time to hatch. Then you can catch and infestation before it gets out of control and your other indoor plants will be spared. Remove pests such as scale or mealy bugs by swabbing them with rubbing alcohol. Then rinse the plant with water and allow it to dry. You may have to repeat this process several times.
DISPOSE OF UNWANTED PLANTS
If there are any bromeliads from your container collection that you would rather treat as annuals, pull them up and dispose of them. Do not let them linger around your garden because they could encourage pests and disease. Be sure to remove all of the potting medium from the containers. You will want to start with a fresh mix next spring.
Take some time to clean your containers. Any containers that are empty will need to be washed before they are repotted next spring. Wash each container with soap and water. Then rinse the container with a diluted bleach solution. Let it dry completely and then rinse the container again with water. When your containers are thoroughly clean you can avoid pesky fungus and other diseases. A little bit of prevention will help your plants thrive next season.
Any time is a great time to separate offshoots and repot them. You may have more time to do this in the winter when you are taking a break from other gardening chores. Offshoots or pups can be removed when they are a third the height of the mother plant. The longer they stay with the mother plant the better they will do. There is no rush to remove a pup.
Pups can be removed simply by pulling or cutting it away from the mother plant. Next, remove the outer, bottom few leaves. It can then be potted in fresh potting mix and staked up until a mature root system forms. For more detailed information regarding removing and planting pups, see this post.
Winter is a perfect time to give bromeliads that you have repotted as pups to friends, neighbors and coworkers. Well cared for bromeliads will continue to multiply, so share the wealth of healthy living plants with those who would appreciate them. They can make excellent holiday gifts or host gifts when placed in a festive container. Print out a small care instructions card and tie it around the pot with some ribbon.
Winter is a great time to mix up some new potting medium. The raw materials for mixing your own potting medium often go on sale as the outdoor gardening season is winding down. Look for discounts on ingredients such as perlite, sphagnum peat moss, barks, sand and compost. You can mix up your potting medium now and store it in sealed rubbermaid containers or tightly lidded trash cans in your garage or potting shed until you are ready to begin potting new bromeliads.
CUT BACK ON WATERING
Many bromeliads have a dormant period during the winter. They do not grow as fast and therefore require very little water. Cut back on watering your bromeliads in the winter. Let the potting mix become very dry before you give water to the plant. When you do water soak the container throughly and allow the excess water to run out. You do not want the potting soil to remain soggy or the plant could suffer from root rot.
You also want to hold off on the fertilizer during this dormant period. It will not help your plant grow any faster. Too much fertilizer can also cause the foliage color to bleach out and prevent the plant from flowering.
If your bromeliad’s blossom begins to turn brown and die back, don’t worry. With a few exceptions all bromeliads flower only once and then die back. Cut off the flower and enjoy the foliage until the mother plant dies. The plant will produce pups and you can look forward to flowers on these new plants.
Also, don’t worry if your plant hasn’t flowered yet. It can take several years for bromeliads to mature and produce a flower. It often takes longer when the plant is grown indoors. Be patient and maybe all of your care will pay off in the spring or summer with beautiful inflorescence.
If you don’t want to wait for flowers, any bromeliad can be forced to bloom. Or, you can choose varieties that naturally produce inflorescence in the winter. Here are a few varieties that bloom in the winter:
Aechmea ‘Del Mar’ has a bright pink flower stalk branching out with colorful blue and white flowers. The plant is small and the flowers stalk stretches up about a foot.
Guzmania sanguina ‘Cousin It’ is a plant with a very thickly foliaged rosette. It blushes bright red in the middle when flowering. The leaves are also a lovely curly shape.
Tilandsia ionatha ‘Druid’ is a variety of a popular Tillandsia species. The foliage blushes a golden yellow when it is producing its white flowers. This is an air plant that must be mounted instead of grown in a container.
FIGHT THE COLD
Bromeliads are a great way to fight the chill of a cold winter. Bring these tropical beauties indoors and you can enjoy bright and cheery foliage and inflorescence during the darkest months of the year. When you’ve put all of your other outdoor gardening on hold you can give plenty of attention to your bromeliad collection. Get busy on this checklist, enjoy your indoor bromeliads and get ready for the spring.
What are your favorite indoor plants to ward off the winter blues?
“Aechmea ‘Del Mar’” Tropiflora.
“Guzmania sanguina ‘Cousin It’” Tropiflora.
“Tilandsia ionatha ‘Druid’” Tropiflora .
“Exotic Bromeliads add brilliant color in winter.” silive.com
Hechtia Care Cheat Sheet
Learn how to care for your Hechtia bromeliad with this quick and easy informational guide.Learn More
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