bromeliad died, what happened?"
A. The most common problem with
bromeliads is the lack or overabundance of water. In nature, most
bromeliads live in moist, fast-draining media like coarse humus
made of bark and leaf mold. If we keep their roots sitting in water
or allow the water in the tank to go stagnant, rot will set in and
kill the plant. The most common way this appears is with the leaves
turning brown or yellow from the ground up, eventually killing the
whole plant. This is rapid and mostly irreversible. Throw out the
plant and ask one of the society members for a new one.
Overdrying is also a problem, since with certain potting mixes,
the water runs straight through, and the mix remains dry. Try letting
the pot sit in some water for about 30 minutes, then water over
the top of the soil, letting water drain through. If your bromeliad
has a tank, don't forget to flood the tank to flush out stagnant
Other ways bromeliads die are: Exposure to extremes of temperature,
exposure to copper salts, murderous squirrels, scale insects, and
the most perplexing -- unknown reasons. Even the best horticulturists
among us kill plants and don't ever find out why.
do I do with this new sprout?"
A. The temptation is to separate
the sprout and plant it in some similar media. However, the timing
of this can be crucial. Plants separated too early (too small) may
flounder or die. Plants separated too late can be deformed by crowding.
A good rule is to separate plants when the daughter plant (the pup)
is at least 1/2 the size of the mother plant. Some genera, like
Vriesia and Tillandsia do better when separated
as a clump rather than as single pups. When removing a daughter
plant, try to divide the two at the exact point where the daughter
attaches to the main mother stem, or you could end up with a handful
of loose leaves. The mother plant can be used to produce further
offspring when repotted.
bromeliad has been growing for 4 generations and has never bloomed."
A. Some bromeliads just don't bloom
very often. One example is the subfamily Pitcairnioideae, members
of which can sometimes take a decade to bloom. Bromeliads that are
raised for their attractive blooms and flower spikes can sometimes
refuse to bloom due to suboptimal light. Try varying your light
schedule (especially if you use artificial light) to reflect the
seasonal light/dark changes. If all else fails, you can try forcing
adult plants (don't force immature plants) to bloom by keeping it
in a loose plastic bag with an apple for a week. The ethylene gas
released by ripening fruit is a flowering hormone that can initiate
blooming in reluctant plants. Keep in mind that forced blooms often
seem less vibrantly colored or stunted, so it's usually best to
allow plants to bloom on their own.