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How to Grow Aechmea

Aechmea fasciata
Aechmea fasciata

Aechmea is a rosette-forming mostly tree-growing (epiphytic) evergreen perennial bromeliad. It bears spike-like inflorescences with long-lasting, brightly colored tubular flowers and triangular bracts.

Aechmea has arching leaves that are narrowly strap-shaped or compound. The leaves in a rosette form a cuplike water reservoir. After two years, a flower stalk emerges from the center of the rosette and bears small inconspicuous flowers between long-lasting bracts.

Aechmea can be grown epiphytically in moist subtropical and tropical regions. In cool regions, it is grown in a warm greenhouse or as a houseplant.

Aechmea is a genus of about 200 species native to rainforests in Southern Mexico, Central America, South America, and the West Indies.

Get to Know Aechmea 

  • Plant type: Bromeliad
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 12-15
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 12
  • Optimal growing temperature: day, 70°F (21°C); night, 60° to 65°F (16° to 18°C). 
  • Height and width: 16 inches to 4 fet (40cm-1.2m) tall and 12 inches to 24 inches (30cm-60cm) wide depending on the variety.
  • Foliage: Narrow strap-shaped to triangular mid to dark green leaves. Strap-shaped leaves in a rosette form a cuplike water reservoir.
  • Flowers: Spike-like inflorescences with tubular, brightly colored flowers with triangular bracts, rising on a spike from the rosette’s center.
  • Bloom time: Fall or winter
  • Uses: Houseplant, tropical garden
  • Common name: Living-vase Plant 
  • Botanical name: Aechmea
  • Family name:  Bromeliaceae
  • Origin: Rainforests in southern Mexico, Central and Sout America

Where to Plant Aechmea  

  • Light: Bright light, no direct sun; indoors from a from southern exposure. Air circulation is important. 
  • Soil: Indoors grow Aechmea in epiphytic bromelaid potting mix.
  • Soil: Outdoors grow epiphytically or in moist, gritty, humus-rich soil.
Silver vase, Aechmea fasciata
Silver vase, Aechmea fasciata

When to Plant Aechmea 

  • Set Aechmea outdoors in a frost-free garden at any time.
  • Grow Aechmea outoors in moss fastened in crotches of trees.

Planting and Spacing Aechmea 

  • Space Aechmea 12 inches to 24 inches (30cm-60cm) apart.

How to Water and Feed Aechmea 

  • Water: For soft-leaved species, keep growing medium moist, not soggy. Keep stiff-leaved species moderately dry between waterings. Water when the medium is dry to the touch.
  • Keep fresh water in the plant’s central leaf cup during growing season. Mist several times a week. Humidity, 45% to 60%. 
  • Feeding: Feed Aechmea monthly, with mild all-purpose fertilizer diluted to ½ or ¼ strength. Avoid oil-based products such as fish emulsion. Spray on leaves, add to water in cup or apply to growing medium after watering; never fertilize a dry plant. 

Aechmea Care 

  • Aechmea rests in late fall and winter. Place Aechmea in a cool place, 50° to 55°F (10° to 13°C). Keep growing medium barely moist and don’t fill cup with water during the rest period.
  • Aechmea dies within 2 years after flowering. 

Growing Aechmea as a Houseplant

  • Grow Aechmea in bright light in a warm room with medium humidity.
  • The growing medium should be coarse, with extra bark or osmunda fiber added; keep the medium evenly moist but not wet.
  • Water should be kept in the cup at the base of the plant.
  • Fertilize Aechmea monthly with a quarter-strength liquid fertilizer solution.

Aechmea Pests and Diseases 

  • Aechmea is vulnerable to scale insects and mealbugs, especially when flowering.
  • Leaf spot and crown rot can be common; excess water and heavy potting media can contribue to fungal root rots.

Aechmea Propagation 

  • Root offsets that form at the base of the plant just before flowering in early summer.
  • Repot offsets in a peat-based soilless mix or in sphagnum moss.
  • Sow seeds at room temperature when ripe. Remove the outer jelly from the seed before owing on the surface of the medium.

Aechmea Varieties to Grow 

  • Aechmea chantinii. Grows to 36 inches (91cm); dark green leaves edged in silver; flowers range from yellow to red with deep orange bracts. 
  • A. fasciata, silver king. Grows to 24 inches (61 cm); green or gray leaves with black spines and silver scales; light blue flowers change to rose as they mature. Sony bracts are pink and remain colorful for months. Powder blue flowers form between the bracts.
  • A. ‘Foster’s Favorite’. Hybrid with bright wine red, lacquered leaves about 12 inches long; flower clusters in coral red or blue.
  • A. fulgens var. discolor. Grows to 20 inches (50cm) tall; broad green leaves with tiny spines; blue flowers are followed by long-lasting, deep red berries.  
  • A. pectinata. Grows to 36 inches tall; stiff rosettes; leaves are marked pink or red at bloom time; flowers are whitish and green.
  • A. weilbachii: Shiny green leaves with red tones to 3 feet; dull red flwoers.

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