Encouraging Difficult Houseplants to Flower

Houseplants originate from all over the world and naturally require different conditions in order to flower. The trick is to mimic these at home to coax reluctant types to bloom.

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited


The main part of a bromeliad dies after flowering, leaving new shoots to take its place. These can either be grown on as a group, or divided and grown on for a few years until mature. Once the bromeliad is as large as your original plant was when it flowered, place a clear plastic bag over it for a week, with a ripe apple inside. The apple releases ethylene, a gas that initiates flowering.


For this beautiful spring- and summer-flowering bulb to flower, it needs a period of cold dormancy. While it likes a warm spot for most of the year, from late fall to late winter, keep it dry and at about 50 degrees F. Water again from early spring and give it a liquid feed every other week. As growth begins, move the plant to a warmer spot to flower, water it slightly less and begin the cycle again. Clivias actually likes to be pot-bound, so repot infrequently.

Christmas Cactus

To flower well, Christmas cacti need plenty of light during the summer. If grown indoors, keep them on a sunny windowsill. If placed outside, shade them a little to prevent them from scorching. To persuade them to flower, give them short days and long nights. So, from fall to Christmas, keep them in a room that's not lit at night, such as a spare room or a child's bedroom.

Moth Orchid

If the growing conditions are right, it's fairly easy to get moth orchids to reflower. They don't like too much light, so grow them on a west- or east-facing windowsill during winter, and in a shadier spot in summer. Water weekly in summer with rainwater, taking care to avoid the crown. Reduce watering in winter. If you have a plant in flower, just as the last bloom is fading, trim the spike slightly below where the first flower opened. A bud there will sprout a second flower spike, which itself can be trimmed to give a third. To encourage a moth orchid to flower again from scratch, keep it humid, give it a diluted feed once a month, and keep it at about 59 degrees F at night and 70-77 degrees F during the day. This fluctuation, combined with feeding and humidity, will initiate new flowers.

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