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Bromeliad Flowering: Blossoms and How to Encourage Them

Many bromeliads are notable for their beautiful leaves, but some of them stand out for their bright, bold blossoms.

Most species only bloom one time, and then they die. Most of the time at the store, the growers have already forced the plant to bloom, which means you’ll only be able to enjoy it for a few months before it will die. That has contributed to the plant’s reputation as challenging to grow.

Bromeliad flowers

You haven’t done anything wrong, it’s just the nature of the plant.

Bromeliad Flower Parts

Before we talk about how to encourage flowering, let’s look at the make-up of the bromeliad flower. The main part of the plant is made up of the leaf and root structure. From that emerges the inflorescence which is made up of the typically colorful bracts and rachis. In case you’re unfamiliar with the terms, bracts are modified leaf-like structures, and rachis are the stems that carry the inflorescence.

The bracts are the part that people often mistake for the flowers because they’re usually bright and colorful. You can find them in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple hues. But it’s from the inflorescence that emerges the actual flowers. These are usually small and insignificant. Flowers are made up of petals, sepals, anthers, stamens, and/or stigmas. Bromeliads typically have three petals on the blossoms.

Flowers can be pink, white, green, purple, red, yellow, or orange. There are even species with neon blue flowers.

The flowers eventually develop into small fruits.

Encourage a Bromeliad to Flower

Bromeliads will usually eventually bloom on their own with no input from you. Typically, only a lack of sunlight or too much nitrogen fertilizer can prevent flowers from forming. But if you’d like to encourage your plant to blossom, the process is simple.

You’ll need a large, clear plastic bag that is roomy enough to hold your plant without pressing against the leaves. Drain any water in the tank and ensure that there aren’t any water droplets sitting on the leaves. Stop fertilizing at least three weeks before starting this process. This process should only be done when the temperatures are above 65°F and during the active growing season, which is spring, summer, and fall.

Place the plant into the bag and set an apple inside with it. Seal the bag completely and place it in an area out of any direct light. Leave the apple to produce ethylene gas, which stimulates the plant to begin blooming, for about ten days.

Remove the plant from the bag after ten days and place it back into its regular spot.

Within about three months, depending on the species, the inflorescence will develop. Some bromeliad species only take a few weeks, but most take longer.

What to Do After a Bromeliad Flowers

Though the plant will die, you don’t need to immediately toss out the plant. As it starts flowering, it will send out pups or offsets. This is the plant’s attempt at reproducing its genetic material. You can gather up these offsets and plant them to generate new bromeliads.

The process differs depending on the species, but you typically want to wait until the pup is about a fourth of the size of the parent plant. Use a clean pair of clippers or a knife to cut away the pup as close to the parent plant as you can.

Place the base of the pup in a small pot filled with an orchid or bromeliad medium. Water the soil, but use caution not to overwater. Young bromeliads are sensitive to overwatering. The soil should feel like a well-wrung-out sponge. It shouldn’t be soggy or wet. Allow the top inch to dry out between watering. 

Eventually, the plant will develop a strong root support. Gently dig into the soil to determine if the roots have developed. If they have, you can repot the plant in a larger container or mount it.