BASIC CULTURAL INFORMATION FOR AECHMEA BROMELIADS
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
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.