From a sheath of deep green a flaming sword of yellow and red bursts forth… This is the once-in-a-lifetime flower of the Vriesea bromeliad plant!
Flaming sword facts
Height – 12-20 inches (30-50 cm)
Exposure – light but only indirect light
Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – end of winter or summer
Each plant will only grow a single flaming sword flower, but it can grow new offshoots that will start the cycle over year after year.
Splitting and repotting a Flaming sword plant
Repotting isn’t needed very often. The only case is when you’re working on separating pups from the mother plant, after it has produced a flower.
- The mother plant, having born a flower, will generate new offshoots for a couple years before dying.
- Wait for the blooming to end completely before repotting.
- Drainage is crucial. Check for a hole at the bottom of the pot. Use gravel or clay pebbles for the bottom layer. Don’t use a pot that keeps excess water below the plant.
- Soil mix with good drainage is best. Add river sand if need be. Bromeliaceae soil mix sold in garden centers is perfect.
- Gently thread your fingers or a cultivator through the roots to untangle them. If they’re running in circles in the pot, cut them shorter.
- If offshoots have appeared, pry them apart (check this video showing a similar operation : splitting a ZZ plant).
- Repot each pup or offshoot to a new pot. Small pots are fine (4 inches or 10 cm across and deep). Flaming sword doesn’t develop very big root systems.
Best exposure for Flaming Sword
Coming from the tropics, the “Flaming Sword” flower needs constant, warm temperatures. Never let it drop below 57°F (13°C).
- Best is around 65-75°F (18-24°C). Perfect for any house or apartment.
- No direct sun.
- Lots of indirect light.
- Avoid heat sources that dry the air up (radiators, air-conditioning exhausts)
- Keep your flaming sword out of the way of drafts.
Windows facing East or West are the best.
Flaming sword plant watering and fertilizer
Watering Flaming Sword in Spring and Summer
- Aim for excellent drainage
- Very little water is needed
The soil mix should feel almost dry before watering again. Best is to water more often with smaller amounts.
- Make sure your water is at room temperature to avoid shocking the plant.
- You can let water collect in the rosette, the center part. Do this only if it’s warm enough (above 65°F or 18°C.
- Once a month, give the plant liquid leaf plant fertilizer.
Ensure you get as much air moisture as possible around the plant. Rest the pot on a saucer with clay pebbles or gravel doused with water. Mist often.
- Flaming Sword takes in water from the air more efficiently than through its roots.
Watering in Fall and winter
Wait for soil to have dried up entirely before giving the plant water again.
Don’t add any fertilizer at all during this dormant period.
Possible Flaming Sword diseases
Insects and pests on flaming sword plant
Aphids, scale insects and red spider mites are the most common pests found on flaming sword.
Fungal diseases that attack flaming sword
Since moisture should be high around the plant with warm temperatures, powdery mildew may occur.
- Learn how to treat against powdery mildew
Flaming sword yellow leaves – adjust watering & fertilizing
If ever your plant is turning pale all over, the soil probably needs more fertilizer.
- Make your own natural fertilizer from fermented weed tea
However, if only the centermost leaves turn yellow, it’s probably due to overwatering or to cold water remaining in the rosette.
- Clear all water from the rosette with a tissue.
- Stop watering your flaming sword flower until the soil is dry again.
Making your Flaming Sword bloom again
All plants of the Bromeliad family – of which the Burning Sword is part – will only produce a single flower in their lifetime.
This is due to how it grows new flowers and leaves. Indeed, a few cells in the very center of the plant start differentiating and instead of producing leaves, they turn into flower stem cells.
- Once the flower stem cell has wilted off and been removed, the center part is too tight for new leaves to form.
- Cells can’t form new leaves since surrounding ones constrain growth.
Growing a new Flaming Sword from pups
- Pups (also the term used for propagating succulents) can grow into entirely new, self-supporting plants.
They’re also exact clones of the mother plant, so blooming and foliage will remain identical.
The key to growing new Flaming Sword flowers is to let the mother plant produce pups. Once these have formed at least five or more leaves (count the leaf tips), they’re ready for removal.
- The longer a pup stays on the mother plant, the faster it will grow and bloom again.
- However, separating a pup will trigger the mother plant into producing more pups.
After up to a few years, the mother plant will exhaust its energy and die.
Smart tip about the Flaming Sword flower
Moisture in the air is what pleases the Flaming Sword plant most.
Feel free to stash a misting bottle or hand spray with soft water nearby. Give it a squirt every time you walk by!
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Bright red Flaming Sword flower by 阿橋 HQ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Flaming sword roots and pups by Maja Dumat under © CC BY 2.0
Young Flaming Sword flower emerging by Nico Nelson under © CC BY 2.0
Fire-like Flaming sword by Hans Benn under Pixabay license