This genus of more than 200 species gets is name from the Greek word meaning "spear point", a reference to the beautiful and colorful bloom spike or inflorescence that usually lasts for several months. They are all epiphytic tank-forming plants, mostly with broad rosettes of arching leaves that can range from rigid to soft, glossy to scaly, patterned or unpatterned with spines on the leaf edges. They require more light than most of the other terrestrial bromeliads.


LIGHT: If kept indoors, Aechmeas must have extremely bright light. They grow best outdoors in 40% to 65% shade. Bright light brings out the best foliage color in the banded and spotted species.


TEMPERATURE: As a rule, the hard-leafed species are more cold hardy and will tolerate some freezing temps with little or no damage. However, it is safer to protect plants from freezing. High temperatures can cause foliage color to fade, but no damage is done.


WATER: Flush central reservoirs of bromeliads at least once a week. Avoid hard water; it can cause spotting of the leaves. Collected rain water is beneficial.


AIR: All bromeliads like good air circulation. If a bromeliad is placed in an unshaded window, it will likely burn because there is no air circulation to dissipate the heat.


FEEDING: Fertilize young, newly potted plants for the first several months after separation from the mother plant (during the summer and fall) to produce good size. To keep compact and colorful, withhold fertilizer as plant matures. The important rule is not to fertilize heavily as the plants near maturity. Use a dilute solution (1/4 strength) of a high quality water-soluble fertilizer and drench the potting medium, foliage and central reservoirs with it. There are several formulations of DYNA-GRO fertilizer that we highly recommend. Aechmeas can also be fed by mixing a slow-release fertilizer into the potting medium. Beware of copper and boron, which are toxic to bromeliads. Your fertilizer should have no more than trace amounts of these minerals.


PROPAGATION: In most bromeliad species, the plant you see blooming now will not bloom again, but begins a reproductive cycle that should produce multiple plants that should mature within approximately one growing season. However, they may flower in 1 to 3 years. The 'pups' will grow on a stolon or stem and will draw nourishment from the mother as she gradually declines. When the 'pup' is one-third the parent's size or when it begins to get crowded in the pot, it can be removed by cutting it away from the mother (gloves recommended) Be sure to leave enough stem to anchor it when it is potted.


POTTING AND MOUNTING: Don't use pots larger than necessary; most Aechmeas grow nicely in 6" to 8" pots. Any potting mix is acceptable as long as it holds moisture yet drains quickly. It should also be sufficiently firm to hold the plant steady.