Reblooming a bromeliad
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Issue: April 17, 2004

Reblooming a bromeliad

Question:

I received an Aechmea fasciata, as a gift. It was knocked off a stand, and the flower broke off. Is there anything I need to do to help it? Can I do anything to make it bloom again?

Answer:

Aechmea fasciata is a beautiful flowering bromeliad with very long lasting flowers. It is no wonder that you are concerned. The answer to your question about making it bloom again is yes, but.

Yes, you can get it to bloom again, but the nature of the Aechmea is that the plant that bloomed will not bloom again; however, its offsets will flower when they mature. Offsets are the small plants that are usually produced at the base of the plant after flowering. While your plant didnât finish flowering, it will probably begin to produce small plantlets at the base of the original plant. As these little plants develop and become a few inches in size, they may be separated from the parent and planted separately, or several may be left together at the base of the dying parent plant.

A few horticultural facts are in order about the Aechmea and other similar bromeliads (Bilbergia, Neoregelia, and others). These plants are epiphytes in the tropical rain forests. Epiphyte means that they grow on the exterior of other plants. These plants, surrounded by ferns, mosses, orchids, Christmas cacti and other interesting plants, grow upon the branches of large rainforest trees. They are not parasites; they only use the tree for support to get them high into the brighter regions of the dense rain forest. In this location, epiphytesâ roots function mainly as hold-fasts to attach them to the tree. The roots have little ability to absorb nutrients and water. Nutrients and water are absorbed by the well formed in the center of the leaves. This well is relatively watertight and holds water during the dry period in the tropical rainforest (or the dry spell in our homes). In your home, a little diluted fertilizer should occasionally be added to the well. In nature these nutrients come from dead leaves, dead insects, bird droppings, or even dead (small) animals that fall into a well that is full of water. You can use a diluted compost tea to simulate natural nutrients, or you can use some soluble houseplant fertilizer that has been greatly diluted. Use a one-tenth or greater dilution from the recommendation for regular houseplants. Try to keep some water in the well at all times, but donât fertilize each time you fill it.

It is okay to water the media in which the plants are potted to occasionally moisten the roots, but donât expect this to supply the water and nutrients to the plants.

The planta should indicate that your management practices are proper by slowly producing new leaves and increasing in size. It may take a year for the plants to attain enough size to flower again. During that time, their silver leaves are attractive and have a sculptural form. The plants would be attractive enough to grow as houseplants even if they didnât have pretty flowers. Enjoy the challenge of growing any offsets that are produced. In the meantime, if you are anxious to have more flowers, many garden centers sell this and other related plants with other colors (reds, oranges, purple and green combinations, and others). Perhaps you will want to purchase some others and start collecting the interesting bromeliads. By the way, the pineapple is a relative of the Aechmea but grows in the soil, not at the tops of tropical rainforest trees.

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Send your gardening questions to

Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith

NMSU Cooperative Extension Service

9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112

Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.

Please join us on Southwest Yard & Garden, a weekly garden program made for gardeners in the Southwest on:

KNME-TV Albuquerque at 9:30 p.m. Saturdays,

KENW-TV Portales at 10 a.m. Saturdays,

and KRWG-TV Las Cruces at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays (repeated at 1 p.m. Thursdays.)