'Screwing' alcantarea imperialis for pups

sid_marx(Auckland, New Zealand)January 8, 2010

Hi There, I've read on this forum and in some bromeliad society newsletters that it is possible to get a plant to produce pups by destroying the apical meristem with a screwdriver. Well about three years ago I bought a few immature plants labelled Alcantarea Imperialis Rubra from a garden centre. Currently the biggest are about 900mm high and wide and none of them has produced any offsets. These plants must have been mislabelled as they are pale green without a hint of rubra anywhere. I have quite a few red Alcantareas but I really would like a supply of green pups to replace these ones when they flower. So my question is this - should I "screw" one of my nice green Alacantarea Imperialis 'Rubra' in the hope it will throw some pups? As an aside I had an immature (150mm) real rubra get hit by frost this winter which killed the centre of the plant, it is now pupping like mad... but it is a much younger plant and from my experience the younger they are the more readily they pup.

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rayandgwenn(z11 Puerto Rico)

I have never had the guts to do it, but I have heard about doing that to bromeliads in general to get them to pup.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 5:14PM
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Kinda like who was the first person to eat a Durian? Nasty job but if no one tries we'll never know.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 6:46PM
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I have stabbed a few and as soon as the pups emerge I start feeding them weak liguid fert and when they reach about 4 inches I give them a small amount of Nutricote(time release). I don't over due the time release in my growing conditions since fert will soften the plants and heat is my biggest hurdle and at the moment its is very rare extreme cold(not normal here)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 6:56PM
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I routinely do the screwdriver treatment with Neos, Vrieseas and other "standard" broms, but Alcantareas are a different proposition because of their unusual pupping habit. I've never tried it, but if you're looking for "grass pups", my hunch is that you are right in assuming it would work best on younger specimens, Sid. If you tried it on a mature plant, you might end up with just a single "replacement pup" in the middle of the rosette, like some varieties get after they bloom. That would kind of defeat the purpose.

Only one way to find out, though. Why don't you try it and let us all know!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 7:31PM
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I've gotten my best grass pups from smaller Alcantereas. There is some chemical you can use that results in extreme pupping. I'll have to ask somebody what that is.

HDD, we too are much colder than I've ever seen it and I have no experience with protecting plants. I don't even know which plants need to be protected. I may learn that the hard way although we haven't yet and aren't supposed to hit freezing, just real close.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 10:07PM
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You might want to just grow some from seed. I've got some imperialis seedlings as well as some grass pups growing and I think the seedlings will only be a year slower than the grass pups. I've also got some nice sized grass pups on my seedlings and I'll probably take them off this spring.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 10:24PM
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Stabbing an Alcantera will produce multiple pups...the stabbing method is slightly different than with neo's and other broms...its multiple stabs
Bromadams you will find the neo's the strongest against cold and many Aechmea's the weakest..Orthophytums weak also...and any thing that has a succulent type leaf..several of these are in the dyckia group
Dealing with temps in the 20's 4-8 hrs at stretch

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 10:54PM
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If you grow your Alcs high in the mix with a little of the roots showing, strip back a leaf or two and apply a generous amount of osmocote or similar - you should get some grass pups forming. The link below has some good tips on grass pups.

The screwdriver treatment should produce normal pups as oppossed to grass pups, I saw a presentation by Bruce Dunstan where he screw drivered a not so perfect varigated Alc with the intention of hopefully producing some better varigated examples.

Bruce's plant was about 12" high, he just ran the screwdriver around the meristem and speared though the centre once - I haven't been able to bring myself to do it to any of my Alcs.



Here is a link that might be useful: Bromeliaceae

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 6:59AM
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sid_marx(Auckland, New Zealand)

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I think the only rational approach here is to 'murder' one of my beauties in the name of science.

I've tried growing one high in the mix and heavily fertilising in the hope of babies, but the only thing produced in abundance between the lower leaves so far has been snail poo - which is odd because I have another imperialis (supposedly 'Ajax' if you believe the label) in flower at the moment with heaps of grass pups around the base.
'Ajax' inflorescence with Alc. glaziouana behind

Flowering with grass pups

Both the 'Ajax' and the glazouiana were affected by frost this winter so think that may have induced early flowering this summer - this is just a guess.
Anyway I'll take pictures of the 'procedure' and any results and post them up if something good happens...
Thanks again for your comments!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 3:55PM
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Personally i really dont like to "murder " the plant ,unless its a variegated form that you cannot reproduce from seed ,seed grown plants look much better for shape than the pups produced ,having said that ,I did murder on of my Vr' Montezuma's Gem ' to see how many pups i got ( plant was about 14 inch across) I got 5 pups but i worried like hell about doing it ,now that the plants are adults ? i got 5 pups first time and after removal got 3 pups next up.but if its new or rare and you can't wait for flowering ? yep you will get pups straight of, i did it once with Vriesea seedlings only 2 inches tall and got pups like you would not believe ,but they did not grow well( to small) but it shows just how determined Broms are
Cheers ,Jack

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 4:57PM
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bambi_too(5 Ohio)

You might try a product named Bap10 if you can find it. Daylily and Hosta people use it to get increases. It would probably work with broms too.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 8:46AM
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sid_marx(Auckland, New Zealand)

Well I did the deed. I dug up a green imperialis that had been planted in the garden for about 2 and a half years.
I used a cylindrical plastic coated metal garden stake, sawed off the end with a hack saw and shoved it all the way through the centre of the plant.

I worked just like an apple corer. Then I flushed the hole with a solution of fungicide and potted it up with about 4 inches of scoria in the bottom of the pot and a fast draining mix around the roots, which I had to trim back quite a bit to get it to fit.
Now it has a new home in the shade house where I can keep an eye on it.
I'll post more pics if the 'experiment' is successful.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2010 at 11:18PM
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sid_marx(Auckland, New Zealand)

No pups yet. I will post an update if and when any good comes of this atrocity...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 1:26AM
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I have a feeling if it was going to happen it would have happened by now. How does the mother plant look?

    Bookmark   December 25, 2010 at 1:58PM
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sid_marx(Auckland, New Zealand)

Hi Lisa, the mother looks OK, it didn't change much over winter in a shady spot, but there's a bit of sun damage starting to appear now. I've wedged the plant into a pretty unfriendly corner to expire. But not to worry - two others that I got at the same time are in flower and one of them has a tiny grass pup :-)

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:17PM
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sid_marx(Auckland, New Zealand)

Well it worked, eventually :-)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 2:49PM
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Hi sid,

You may already know this, but I read on an old thread in these forums, that to induce pupping it helps if you put Osmocote (or similar) on the surface of the potting media as well as a few prills in between the leaf axils as well.

I haven't tried it on Alcantareas, but I have on Aechmeas, Neo's and Vrieseas with great success.

All the best, Nev.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 2:25PM
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I do that with my mums after I have taken the pups off. Usually get more pups.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 5:00AM
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hi I'm new to this forum so wasn't sure where to start but I have a beautiful alcantarea imperials (I believe brasiliana). It is finally bloomimg after several years. My questions is where in the bloom are the seeds located? I want to harvest the seeds and try to grown more plants from the sees. PLEASE HELP. thank you.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:03AM
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Hi OL if you go back to the photo of the 'Ajax' inflorescence and click on it you will see individual flowers. If these are pollinated they will produce seed. The viable pods will become fat.
If you like you, can pollinate the flowers yourself. Very early morning is best.
All up this can take months before the seed are ripe.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:40AM
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This has been a fun thread. I don't think I'd have the stomach to assault one of my plants with a stake or screwdriver! I am glad it works! As for seeds, i've never tired growing any bromeliads from seed, but my guess is pollinating is pretty easy. As long as you can locate the appropriate flower parts, a soft paintbrush should do the trick. if you have lots of bees, providing the plant is outdoors, they should do the job too. Good luck! P.S. Beware what you wish for! I got this crazy idea to grow cacti (cleistocactus and trichocereus) from seeds, and have thousands of babies. now what do I do? Let's see, there Christmas, and.....

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:02PM
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