Bromeliads are one of the plants that I find to be perfectly Florida. I love the variety of colors and textures, sizes and heights, and different growth habits for every nook and cranny in the garden. Whether full sun or deep shade, there is a bromeliad for that part of the landscape.
Why Plant Bromeliad Pups?
One thing about bromeliads is they can be fairly pricey to purchase. But, if you can find someone with an old garden then there are often more bromeliads to share than they may have friends. But until you find that treasured neighbor with a plethora of plants to share, buying bromeliads can be expensive. One way to cut down on that cost is to purchase bare root plants or “pups.” Pups are the off shoots from the parent plant and depending on the species of bromeliad they can take 1-4 years to form. Generally speaking, smaller bromeliads produce pups faster than large plants and this is probably why large swatches of small bromeliads being planted as groundcovers.
Collecting or Purchasing Bromeliad Pups
If you are lucky enough to have a friend or neighbor with a well established clump of bromeliads then collecting your own bromeliad pups is easy. Each of the pups is connected to the parent plant by a single root or stolon. By cutting this root you can easily pull out the young plant and take it home. I like to leave this long root attached to the pup to help secure once it is planted in its new home. Gardener’s tip: It is best to wait until pups are at least 1/3 the size of the parent plant before removing.
Purchasing bromeliad pups is another affordable way to acquire new, expensive varieties. These are often sold at plant sales and garden fairs for much less than their potted counterparts. I find this to be a benefit to both the seller and buyer; the seller does not have to haul heavy potted plants and the buyer is able to easily carry several plants home too!
Planting Bromeliad Pups
I should preface my directions for planting by mentioning that Capone, our cute but not smart pug, enjoys carrying around bromeliads in his mouth. He is not a normal dog by any means, but I have learned to take a few extra steps to protect my plants. That being said, planting bromeliad pups is very easy and even less work than other plants.
Supplies for this involve your plants and staking or support materials. I’ve used small bamboo pieces, but any sticks or supports will work just fine for these purposes.
Begin by clearing a small space for the plant. There is no need to dig a hole, but a slight depression to set the bromeliad in so that it is just about at soil level. Do not use the soil to keep the plant upright as this is will suffocate the plant. For areas with dense tree roots, planting bromeliad pups may be the ideal groundcover and easier to get started than plants with large root systems where holes need to be dug.
Insert the stakes near the base of the bromeliad pup. Anchoring the plant in well will help it to grow roots more quickly and start growing in the garden. Most plants will need three stakes to be held in securely and held upright.
New plants will need to be watered once or twice per week until a root system is established. Luckily, the natural vase shape of these plants helps to hold water and keep the base moist.
The time of year and weather will determine the length of time for new plants to begin growing roots and anchor themselves firmly to the soil. Warm sunny summer weather will encourage plants to grow more quickly than cooler winter days, but they can be planted any time of the year.
Planting bromeliad pups is an easy and inexpensive way to add new plants to your garden without breaking the bank. Many mail order nurseries and growers will utilize this method to ship unusual and unique varieties to your home for a fraction of the cost for potted plants. These beautiful plants are great for shade areas and surprisingly drought tolerant. The colors and patterns of these versatile plant make them irresistible to any Florida garden.