The bright, vibrant colours of bromeliads make them a desirable addition to the house or a partially shaded garden. Bromeliads are in the same family as pineapple plants. Native to the subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, most bromeliad species are epiphytic and grow in trees, not in soil. Like tropical orchids, most bromeliads cannot tolerate frost. When growing and propagating bromeliads asexually or from seeds, a gardener should consider the plant's environmental needs and the size of the mature plant.
Growing from the pups
Bromeliads reproduce asexually by producing small plants around the perimeter of the adult plant. Some bromeliads develop these small plants on the stems. People call these smaller plants pups. When the pups reach one-third to half the size of the adult plant, it is time to remove them and plant them in their own flowerpots. The pups mature and begin flowering in one to three years.
Removing the pups
After sterilizing a sharp, serrated knife or secateurs with a solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water, and putting on long sleeves and gloves to protect the skin, most gardeners begin by gently removing the parent plant from the flowerpot. After brushing away the potting mix, the pup's connection to the parent plant is visible. Some pups may have developing roots but others may not. As long as the base is firm and brown, it is safe to remove the pups. The gardener cuts through the connecting tissue with a knife, separating the pups from the parent plant.
Repotting the plants
The pups may be set aside in a warm, dark location for 24 hours to allow the cut edges to dry. Some gardeners dust the cut edges of the pups and parent plants with a fungicide that does not contain copper. Before beginning to repot, soak a coarse orchid potting mix in water for several hours to ensure that the bark is fully moist. Place each pup in the moist bark, deep enough to cover any developing roots. Use bamboo skewers or stakes to secure the plant in the potting mix until its roots grow large enough to hold it in place. If the parent plant is still healthy, also repot the larger plant in fresh orchid mix.
Growing from seeds
Bromeliads also reproduce from seeds. When grown from seeds, the plants require three to six years to mature before blooming.
Planting the seeds
The gardener can use either a sterile seed starting mix or sphagnum moss to germinate the seeds. Gardeners should prepare the medium by thoroughly wetting it. Sphagnum moss is usually soaked overnight to ensure that it is moist before placing it into seed starting trays. They can scatter the seeds over the surface of the moist, but not soaking wet, medium; however, they should not cover the seeds. They should press the seeds gently so they touch the planting medium and mist the seeds lightly with water, and then cover the tray with a plastic cover or plastic wrap. They should place the planting tray where it receives bright, indirect light and where temperatures are between 21 and 27 degrees Celsius. The seeds should germinate within 10 to 14 days.
Potting the seedlings
Gardeners should remove the cover over the seed-starting tray after the seedlings germinate. They can lightly mist and water as needed to keep the seed starting a medium level of moist, but not wet. When the seedlings are 3.8 to 5 cm tall, gardeners should transplant them to small flowerpots. They can use an orchid mix or loose, coarse potting mix and water the mix thoroughly before transplanting the seedlings. They should carefully remove each seedling from the tray and place it at the same depth in the potting mix. They can gently tap the planting mix around the base of the seedling. A bamboo skewer helps hold the seedling in place until its roots establish themselves in the new flowerpot.
Caring for bromeliads
Bromeliads generally prefer a warm, brightly lit, partially shaded location. Newly planted pups should stay in bright, indirect light. Mature plants tolerate morning sun, but need shade in the afternoon. People should water regularly, keeping the potting mix moist but not waterlogged. They can fertilise weekly or biweekly when the plant is actively growing, using one-quarter strength all-purpose liquid fertiliser, and applying it immediately after watering. If the plant becomes leggy or its colours fade, gardeners should reduce fertilising to once per month. They should avoid getting fertiliser in the central cup of the bromeliad; it may burn or rot the plant.
How to buy bromeliads on eBay
When seeking the brightly coloured plants amid the myriad of listings on eBay, you can use the search bar found on every page of the site to refine your search. Simply type a few keywords, such as "bromeliad" or the species name, and then click on the search button to reveal photographs and descriptions of a variety of bromeliads for your review. After selecting and purchasing your new plants, prepare yourself for a new growing season with these brilliant bromeliads.