Sunday, 3 April 2016

Dividing Bromeliads

Autumn with its cooler weather is the perfect time to divide bromeliads - there is just enough warmth left to help new plants get really well established.

Bromeliads are members of a plant family known as Bromeliaceae with over 2700 described species in approximately 56 genera. The family contains a wide range of plants with perhaps the most well known being the pineapple. There was a recent post on growing pineapples from tops please click here for that post. In this family there are some very un-pineapple like members such as Spanish Moss (which is neither Spanish nor a moss).  

After a bromeliad flowers a side shoot which is called a 'pup' will develop. The parent plant, unfortunately declines and will never flower again - not because you have a 'black' thumb, this is just the nature of the plant. By dividing the exhausted parent plant and the pups, will encourage the pups to grow into a plant genetically the same as its parent. Most exhausted parent plants will have more than the one pup so you will end up with many new plants - enough to share with friends!

Pull the bromeliad out of the pot so you can see what's going on. Usually it's fairly obvious which is the mother plant and which are the pups. Use clean secateurs to cut off the pups, making sure there's a good length of woody stem on the base of each pup. 

Remove any damaged lower leaves from the pup and check for scale. If present, dunk the pup before planting in a bucket of eco-oil solution as an organic control method.

Fill a small pot with orchid potting mix and plant the pup - only pushing the woody stem into the mix and stop when the leafy base touches the mix. Be mindful not to plant too deeply because the pup may rot. Insert bamboo skewers around the pup to hold it upright and water in with a weak solution of seaweed enriched water to encourage really good root development. These pups may take up to a month to settle in and get established. 

Pups can be tied directly to trees using stockings - the pup will develop roots and cling to the tree as the stocking rots away. 

For the Coffs Coast bromeliads are a wonderful choice as they are so well suited to our climatic conditions. There are broms that will fit into any garden situation to find out more about varieties just visit your local nursery or specialist grower.

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