Propagating Bromeliads

Propagating bromeliads is straightforward enough for beginner gardeners with a little patience.  If you have a mother bromeliad who has had a pup, you can repot the pup alone or wait for the mother plant to expire and remove it when the pup is about 1/3 the size of the mother plant. The whole process from pup to mature plant takes about 2-3 years. Bromeliads bloom when they reach maturity, and then healthy plants usually create “pups” that will replace the mother. These pups are offsets that will appear at the base of the bromeliad. The pups are clones that eventually become a separate plant in about a year or two. This is the most frequently used method of propagating bromeliads. 

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Methods To Propagate Bromeliads

Leaving the pups attached to the mother plant for as long as possible will allow them to keep absorbing nutrients, but the mother may end up producing fewer pups. In general, you’ll want to wait to harvest pups until they grow to at least one-third the size of the mother plant. Prepare the appropriate growing media and locate a small pot. Use sharp, clean gardening shears to take the pup off of the mother plant. 

Best Media To Propagate Bromeliads

Plants like Bromeliads are epiphytes and do not necessarily need soil to grow. A great way to propagate your bromeliads is by mixing your own blend of rooting media. Potting soil is usually too dense on its own and will retain moisture for too long. Instead, use a soilless potting mix with perlite and orchid bark. Sphagnum moss is also a good choice for bromeliad pups. Make sure the mix is light and airy so the roots get good airflow. Water should be able to drain freely through the potting material. 

Steps To Propagate Bromeliads

Step 1 - Harvest pups once they reach about 1/3 the size of the mother plant

Step 2 - Fill a small pot with well-draining growing media 

Step 3 - Use sharp, clean gardening shears to take the pup off of the mother plant

Step 4 - Plant only the base of the pup or only the roots if it has any

Step 5 - Make sure to keep the growing media moist

Step 6 - Provide the pups with plenty of bright, indirect light

Caring For Bromeliad Offsets

Choose an area for your bromeliad that receives bright filtered sunlight for best growth results. Keep bromeliads out of direct sun because it will scorch the leaves. Morning or evening sun is best. Many bromeliads have a cup formed by their central leaves. Keep fresh rainwater or distilled water in the cup. You should pour out the old water and fill it with clean water every few days if possible. This will help to prevent bacterial growth and mineral buildup. Ideally the water you provide for your bromeliad should have a pH between 4.0-7.0. Smaller bromeliads are especially sensitive to salt and mineral buildup. A water-soluble fertilizer can be used to feed potted bromeliads each month during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing. Feed the plant at its base since adding fertilizer to the central cup could burn new leaves. Never add slow-release fertilizer pellets to the central cup formed by the leaves.

Transplanting Bromeliad Pups

For best results, transplant your bromeliad pups in the spring when they can recover more quickly. These plants have shallow root systems. Most bromeliads fit in pots size 6 and below. Due to the shallow roots, you’ll want to keep bromeliads in the smallest pot size possible. Ensure that the pot or container for your bromeliad has adequate drainage. Always keep in mind that bromeliads can grow in low-soil areas and they need to be able to drain water quickly. Carefully pop the plant out of its old container, especially if you see roots coming out of it. Have a new pot ready and fill it about halfway with growing medium. Prevent root rot by planting the bromeliad only as deep as the base of the plant. The pup will grow roots as long as you keep it moist and give it bright, indirect sunlight.

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 Author Aimée Minard - Published 06-24-2023