Air Plant Pups

 
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So your air plant is growing a pup?

Congratulations.



That’s exciting. You might have found a small nub close to the base of your air plant. Maybe you spotted a baby air plant within your mature plant. Here’s how to make sure your air plant pup grows into a mature plant, just like its mother.

 

Leave the air plant pup on the mother air plant

Your air plant pup receives shared moisture and food from the mother plant. If you leave the pup on the mother plant until it’s ready to leave, it will have a better chance of survival. Removing the pup too early will risk it getting too dry, not enough food or growing too slowly. The rule of thumb is: remove the pup when it’s one third the size of the mother plant. Sometimes pups fall off accidentally when they are too small.

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How to separate the air plant pup from it’s mother

Grip the pup at its base. Give it one quarter of a twist and it should come of. Sometimes a little root holds the pup to the mother, you can snip the root to separate pup from mum.

 

How many pups will my air plant produce?

On average between 1-3 pups. Air plants can produce pups before during or after they flower. Some air plant varieties, like T. Bergeri, will produce many more. Other air plants like T. Xerographica will take years to mature before they flower and grow pups.

 
This air plant pup is on a ‘bed’ of Sphagnum Moss. It will be misted twice daily.

This air plant pup is on a ‘bed’ of Sphagnum Moss. It will be misted twice daily.

If the air plant pup is too small

You can rescue it. It will need a ‘bed’ that retains moisture to stop it drying out. Fill a small container (yogurt size or larger) with sphagnum moss or orchid potting mix. Make sure there is a hole in the bottom for drainage. Place your air plant gently on its bed. Mist fragile pups more frequently than tough mature plants. Every 1-2 days. If tiny, twice daily. Mist the bed with water when you mist the pup.

 
T. Bulbosa air plant producing three pups and flowering simultaneously.

T. Bulbosa air plant producing three pups and flowering simultaneously.

How to get your air plant to produce more pups

Keep mother plants even if they look like they are on the way out. Even though the mother plant looks dead, it may still have life in it, and could push out a pup before it’s death.

Fertilise your plant fortnightly or monthly with a 25% strength liquid orchid fertiliser. Spray the fertiliser directly onto your air plant

Snip flowers off your air plants when the flower is past it’s bloom. Removing the flower stimulates the plant to produce pups. The plant will spend its energy on new pup growth rather than its dying flower. Snip the flower spike off as close as possible to the mature plant.

The mother air plant produced another pup as it was dying.

The mother air plant produced another pup as it was dying.

 
 
 
Marianne Annereau