May 27th, 2006
Some years ago, smoke from a wood-burning heater accidentally escaped overnight into a greenhouse filled with bromeliads, including some species that had been there for years without blooming. Within six weeks to two months most of the plants, including those that had never bloomed, suddenly sprouted inflorescences. The smoke was analyzed and found to contain ethylene gas. This discovery allowed growers to make pineapples bear fruit year-round.
If desired, mature plants, paticularly any recalcitrant ones that have never bloomed, can often be “gassed” to stimulate bloom on demand. One way to do this is to place a full-grown plant into a large plastic bag and drop in a whole Red Delicious apple (it is a better source of ethylene gas than Yellow Delicious). Tie the bag closed and keep it in cool solid shade for one week. Then take the bromeliad out and care for it as you usually would.
So for those of you who have trouble getting your bromeliad to bloom, don’t give up! Try these tricks!