Roots after pruning ready to ship.
I am often asked “When ordering Bromeliads on line, why do they come with so few roots?” It may seem counter intuitive, but repotting a bromeliad with all the old roots still attached could be harmful to it’s health.
Contrary to some popular opinion, a healthy root system is important. When you see a Bromeliad that looks sick or doesn’t seem to be thriving, you will often find an unhealthy root system. And if your plant is not growing healthy new roots, it’s probably not prospering.
So then why not ship bromeliads with their full root system in tact? Well the fact is, once the root system of a Bromeliad has been disturbed, it typically shuts down and just dies. When that happens, if the potting mix stays too wet, the old root mass can start breaking down (rotting) quite quickly.
This problem is then compounded by the fact that most growers have a tendency to over water their new plants. That mass of rotting old roots can act as a sponge to hold even more water around the plants stem. This denies it of the aeration that is essential for new root growth, and spells disaster for your Bromeliad. Your whole plant can become susceptible to rot, and once that starts, it is very difficult to save.
So as you can see, the old roots can be more of a liability than an asset. If that is the case, where do the new roots come from?
New roots start from scratch by growing out from the plant’s stem. So pruning off the old roots actually helps the new roots off to a fresh start.
The new roots like a moist but airy new potting mix and will grow much faster than encountering a boggy mass of rotting old root structure. So to cut down on plant loss due to center stem rot, it is preferable to trim the old roots before repotting and not over watering.
Since the Bromeliad will not have a full root system, it is also advisable to keep it stable in the new pot. That means making sure that it is secure and cannot move around. Your Bromeliad will not start to set new roots if it is not well anchored in its new home.
So just remember, if you want a healthy Bromeliad, it starts with a healthy root system.
So when repotting:
- Prune away old roots
- Repot in an airy potting mix
- Secure your bromeliad in the pot so it cannot move around
- Do not overwater
- Do not disturb the new roots
By following these simple steps, you will greatly improve the chances for a healthy and vigorous Bromeliad.