For the price of a small bouquet of cut flowers, you can enjoy the exotic look of bromeliads for several months. These beautiful flowering plants are prized for their showy inflorescences, colorful flower stalks that are far more attractive than the rather insignificant small flowers they hold. It is true that bromeliads flower only once, but the plant then produces multiple offsets that in turn mature and, in time, send up their own wonderful flower stalks. Even if you don’t wish to wait for the new plants to mature, the fact that the original plant stayed beautiful and colorful for six months or more means that you can toss it and buy a new one with a clear conscience.
Most bromeliads prefer three to four hours of direct morning or late afternoon sun—mid-day sun is too hot! They need warm temperatures, between 60 and 90 degrees, and do best with higher humidity. The medium in potted bromeliads should dry moderately, but you should keep fresh water in the plant’s central cup formed by the rosette or funnel shaped growth habit. Day-old or distilled water is best for long-lasting beauty.
Once your bromeliad has produced a mature (2 years old or better) offset, you can force it into bloom by draining the water from the “cup” and sealing it in a plastic bag with a ripe apple for a week to ten days. The apple releases ethylene gas as it ages, causing the bromeliad to set flower buds.