When you buy a bromeliad on eBay, it may be posted to you 'bare rooted' or with no roots at all. It may have been rattling around in a parcel contractors van or left in the full sun all day. The following method will save most bromeliads.
- Buy some vermiculite (I get mine from Bunnings Hardware. Garden or Hydroponics retailers should also have it)
- Line a small pot with scrap shadecloth or mosquito mesh to stop losing the vermiculite out of the drainage holes.
- As soon as the bromeliad(s) arrive, plunge it (them) into a container of water and leave it (them) for 5 minutes.
- Shake excess water from the bromeliad(s) and place in the pot. Two or three small bromeliads may be quite happy together in the same pot.
- Fill the pot loosely with moist but not soggy vermiculite.
- Support the bromeliads with skewers of bamboo, plastic,stainless steel etc.
- Put them in an airy and not too sunny spot where they can be left undisturbed for a couple of months.
- Use your finger to check the moisture of the vermiculite. Dampen the vermiculite when it starts to dry out. If you tend to overwater, mix perlite in with the vermiculite.
- A small amount of water in the 'cup' of the bromeliad is good too.
- Plant in your usual way when the bromeliad has a ball of fresh white roots. The vermiculite does not need to be shaken off.
This way, a squashed, dehydrated and distressed plant can get a good start. It does not have to force its new roots through a heavy mix. Vermiculite is sterile without fungal or other organisms to atack the new roots. If the bromeliad does get jiggled, the new roots will not break off in this light mix.