Unknown Bromeliad Dying?

seanbombJuly 9, 2010

I recently came across this poor fella during my Wal-Mart run. At 5 bucks I had to pick it up. My idea was, if its not dead per se, then I can maybe get it going for future transplant to my vivarium.

These pics were taken several days after I brought it home, but it looks the same. I've been reading up on them, so I know they respond slowly, but I'm not sure what the status of this little guy is. Or what I'm looking at, for that matter! The burgundy (flower thingy) comes directly from the cup, not from the sides, so I didn't think it was a pup, but what do I know.

Essentially, I'm wondering what the assessment is for this plant - is it going to make it? has it already bloomed and this is the new shoot? It was, after all, a clearance item, and when I found it it was drenched... completely drenched in an oversized pot. I took it home, washed it off, and made a smaller pot with a peat moss/orchid bark mix with a hint of sand (since i had no hydroton).

An ID would be quite handy, and some help on how to nurse this fella would be great, and thanks!

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As I was pruning the dead leaves I noticed a little green bump on the lower inside of one of the outer leaves. A baby shoot? A false hope? Anyone with experience, throw me a bone.

And thanks, of course, always.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:28AM
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You've got a Vriesea, but I don't know which one. Yes, that little green "bump" does appear to be a pup, but it's got a long way to go before it can make it on its own. You've got some green leaf left, so it's not a total loss, but it would certainly be a lot happier and grow faster if there was more.

When you say it was drenched, do you mean just with water or was it sprayed with some sort of chemical that may have burned it? If it was chemical, there may be lingering effects of it. How did the roots look? Overwatering can cause a plant to turn brown like that, but it is usually a result of the roots having rotted. If that is the case, it may not be easy to keep it alive long enough for the pup to mature, but it's worth a try.

The first thing I'd do is cut away all of the brown, dried part. I hate to say it, but you'd probably have better luck if you cut off the flower stalk too. It's too bad, since it looks like it just opened, but supporting a bloom takes up a lot of precious energy, and you want it to be putting its energy into growing some more roots and a pup. Or you can just enjoy the flower and throw it out when it's done.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 4:39AM
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Hey there seanbomb...welcome to the forum ! Have no fear, your plant is indeed having a new "shoot". They're called "pups" in the brom world, "babies" in our world ! Most bromeliads do this when they are nearing the end of their life - yes, the colourful flower and mother plant will slowly die I'm afraid. All you need to do is keep all leaves full of water (incluing the pups) and the potting mix moist and it will most likely have more pups too in future (probably 2-3 or maybe more eventually). When they are around 6-8 inches long (3-5 months after sprouting) you can simply cut them off the mother at the lowest point possible under the soil with a steak knife - and plant them in any free draining potting mix with a little fertiliser.

By the way the plant is a member of the Vriesea genus, one of the many commercially grown hybrids no doubt, so getting a name for it will be nigh on impossible. However, if you search this forum for Vriesea pups etc, you should find some good info on how to care for it. I would say the reason the leaves have died off prematurely is lack of water or too much heat/sun at some point...make sure you keep the babies in shade and preferably indoors with a little morning sun while they get established, otherwise they may quickly end up like mum did !

Good Luck !

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 4:55AM
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My assumption was that it had been overheated/lighted. Wal-Mart's "garden center" is really just a big fishnet on poles, you know, and I get the feeling the local folks don't know the difference between tropical and backyard plants. But I digress. I've cut the brown out, mostly, I'll get a little closer when I'm more awake.
Interestingly, I have three options for keeping this fella: the first floor has the a/c.. right now its about 77F. The second floor feels muggier to me, but then, I dislike muggy! The third floor is much hotter and still humid. All floors have NSEW exposures, I was thinking south?

As for the roots, I'll have to look; I thought there was a bulb or something attached to them. I left it alone not knowing what it was.

I assume it got scorched, but having read up first I'm hoping the pup will make it!

Drenched, as in the 5" pot it was in- the soil was completely soaked like they had dropped it in the pool. It was packed quite hard also, which is why I wanted to get it into something more to its liking. I don't expect to see results quickly, but how long should it take before I see improvement/further deterioration?

I do keep an eye on the water in the leaves, they're still doing ok. I'll rinse and refill the leaves tomorrow.

And perhaps I've been misinformed, but I was under the impression that broms preferred a faster draining soil?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 5:21AM
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Hi seanbomb,

Another welcome to the forum from me also.

You've got some good advice to go on already, but to add my "two bobs worth", it looks to me like it was cooked by too much sun or heat of some sort, and then thrown in a tub of water to try and revive it, hence being drenched.

I would initially tend to do what Lisa says and cut off the flower (put it in a vase, it may still open) this will then steer what energy the plant still has, into raising the little pup.

It won't be a quick result, but brom's are very resilient and if you do succeed, it will be very rewarding.

Good luck and all the best,


    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 7:00PM
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I have taken the advice and clipped the dried, dead portions of the leaves, and cut the flower from the cup :(

The bud seems to be doing well, though, and I estimate it's about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long down inside the leaf, which is about double its size when I bought it. So, it will be some weeks then before I can transplant it?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:40AM
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It will be several months. I can't say how long exactly, it depends on how fast it grows, and without leaves it's likely to grow more slowly. The rule of thumb is that it should be AT LEAST one third the size of the mother plant, (meaning the size the mother would have been if it had all its foliage intact). Sometimes even that can be misleading since mass-produced Vrieseas are often treated to force them to bloom earlier than they otherwise would. Best to just let it get as large as it possibly can before attempting to remove it.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 3:30AM
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Yes ,i agree with Lisa , i would say 3 to 5 months ,there are many variables involved ,what i dont understand is why every one is always in such a hurry to create / force or otherwise make more pups happening ,remember " softly softly catchy monkey " it will take time , the poor mother has had a bad time and as Lisa stated ,maybe was gassed into flowering , if you leave it on for as long as possible the chance is that it will make a couple more pups anyway ,

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 3:40AM
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I should probably ask, if this is a Vriesea, is it epiphytic? I'm beginning construction on my vivarium, its future home, so I need to know where/how to plant it.

Thanks folks!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 12:07AM
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hi SB Yes it is an epiphyte and yes it does need a well drained mix i.e. spaces for some air around the roots. Check that the sand is not holding too much water. It is vital to keep the mother plants roots alive until the pup grows its own or is large enough to be removed. Too much water around the mothers roots could cause rot of the roots, be careful also not to plant the mother too deep as vrieseas can rot off at the leaf/soil junction also if that area gets too wet. Dont cut the dried leaves right back to the green-leave a narrow margin of brown. The pup looks healthy - good luck with your plant.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 8:09PM
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