Aechmeas - Living Vases

Aechmeas or urn plants are rosette forming bromeliads. Periodically, colorful bracts will emerge from the center of the rosette or urn. These "flowers" can adorn the plant for months.

After the bloom fades, the rosette which produced it will die. At this time, it should be cut away to give the pups which will have formed at its base room to grow.

You can let the pups grow together in the same pot, or you can separate them with a sharp knife and pot them individually. Either way, it will probably be several years before they bloom.

This is Aechmea 'Blanchetiana' glowing like fire at the Maui Tropical Plantation.

This pot of Aechmea 'Corra Araujoi' is growing happily at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida.

This is why it is best to choose the bromeliad you want to grow for its leaves. They display a wide variation in leaf coloring. In fact, the leaves of an Aechmea are as attractive as the flowers of most other plants.

Different cultivars bloom at various seasons making it possible to have a constant floral display from these living vase plants.

The urn of an Aechmea plant is vaselike in its ability to hold water.

Some people use the rosette to hold cut Hibiscus or orchid flowers when the bromeliad is not in bloom. This does no harm as long as you don't insert a sharp stem which can damage the base of the bromeliad where its own flower spike develops.

Also, be careful of using flowers that drink too much of the urn plant's water.

The most popular species is probably Aechmea fasciata.  Its leaves are striped with a white talcum powderish substance.  When in bloom, it looks as if someone has plopped an upside down feather duster into its cup.

The arching, spiny leaves of a mature plant can grow to 2 feet in length.  Most feature crosswise bands, but the leaves of A. f. 'Variegata' display lengthwise stripes.

Aechmea Care

The Popular A. fasciata

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Aechmeas prefer a sun to part shade exposure and at least 30 percent humidity. Plant them in coarse soil and don't water the roots too often. Keep the urn filled instead.

Increase your bromeliad plant collection by removing the offsets when they are about half the size of the mother plant.

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Related Pages:

Propagating Bromeliads

How to Start a Pineapple Plant

Landscaping Under Trees

Return to Tropical House Plants

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