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Propagating Bromeliads — How to Propagate Bromeliads

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Bromeliads are satisfying plants to grow at home partly because they're so easy to propagate. Over a few years, one bromeliad can turn into a whole garden of bromeliads. Most people get bromeliads as gift plants, when their colorful bracts are shooting up from the central plant cup. These bracts, which actually contain the bromeliads small flowers, last for a long time, sometimes months, before slowly fading and dying. After the bract is dead, the "mother" plant will send out a series of offsets, or pups, from the base of the plant. They'll look like tiny versions of the mother plant emerging from between the mother plants bigger leaves. These pups can be used to propagate your bromeliad.

To take an offset, use a sharp shovel, long knife or saw. Cut the pup as far down as you can, even below the surface of the soil. Don't worry if the pup hasn't developed roots yet—bromeliads are epiphytes, which means their roots are only for holding and securing the plant. They get their water and nutrition from their central cups. However, you want to get as much plant material as possible to help the young bromeliad stay firmly positioned in its new home.

After you've removed the pup, you can either place it into a new pot with new potting media, or you can tie the pup to a branch or cork board for its new home. The young pups will begin to grow almost immediately, but don't overwater them at first. Keep their central cups full, or keep the potting soil barely (but continuously) moist. A young bromeliad should flower within 2–3 years, depending on the species.

A healthy mother plant will generally produce multiple pups, sometimes as many as three or four, before the plant completely fails.

This kind of propagation is known as asexual reproduction; it's a form of cloning. You can also sexually reproduce bromeliads from seed by crossing two plants, collecting seed and sprouting them. This is a difficult process, however, and takes much longer than asexual reproduction. Bromeliad seeds are sown into small pots or flats, usually on moist spaghum moss or in a seedling mixture. Seedlings should be kept moist and warm and preferably covered.

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