Botanical name: Aechmea spp
Aechmea Bromeliads commonly called Urn Plants are popular houseplants grown for the beauty of their foliage and for the beauty of their flowers. They are typical Bromeliads with leathery, arching leaves and a distinct central 'vase' from which a stout stalk bearing a bold flower-head emerges. The usual pattern for these Bromeliads is a rosette of leathery, strap-like foliage and flower-head which arises on a stalk from the cup-like center of rosette. The leaves are backward-arching and saw-edged (spiny); take care when handling. A plant may take several years to reach the flowering stage but the display may last several months. Once the flower-head fades, the rosette of leaves begins to die and is replaced by offsets at the base. The display of the flower head is due to the presence of long-lasting showy bracts; true flowers are small and short-lived. The native home of Aechmea Bromeliads is the American Jungle from Mexico through South America, where they dwell among the Orchids in trees or on the forest floor.
Several varieties of Aechmea Bromeliads available. Aechmea fasciata commonly called Urn plant is by far the most popular one. The arching 2 ft grey-green leaves are banded with silvery powder and the floral spike which appears when the plant is a few years old are striking and is one of the easiest ones to grow. Other plants in this group are Aechmea chantinii (Amazonian Zebra plant) which is larger and the flower-head is brighter and more open. Aechmea caudata has branching heads of yellow flowers. Aechmea fulgens discolor (Coral Berry) has purple-backed foliage and purple flowers which are followed by long-lasting berries. The dwarfs for where space is limited like Aechmea Foster's Favorite among many other varieties.
Urn Plants Bromeliads prefer bright light but away from direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Like with other rosette Bromeliads, Aechmea Bromeliads require the central 'vase' to be filled with water at all times. Empty and refill the 'vase' regularly to prevent growth of bacteria which may cause the water to become smelly. Use only chlorine-free water as they are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals that may be dissolved in water. Water the soil only when it dries to keep the roots moist; avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot. Allow good air circulation to prevent pests and disease infestation.
Average warmth with a minimum of 150C is ideal for Urn Plants Bromeliads. To bring the plant to flower may require temperatures above 260C.
Urn Plants Bromeliads require a humid enviroment. Employ these techniques to raise humidity. Allow good air circulation to prevent pests and disease infestation.
Feed Urn Plants Bromeliads with a liquid fertilizer (foliar feed) once every month during the growing season. Do not feed during the cold season as growth is minimal.
Repotting Urn Plants Bromeliads is not necessary as their roots are tiny and are unlikely to fill the pot. Pot these Bromeliads in a shallow heavy pot to prevent them from toppling over as they can become top-heavy. Also provide support to help keep it upright.
Pruning Urn Plants Bromeliads involves removal of dead leaves to keep the plant neat and tidy and to allow adequate room for the new plants to grow. Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a clean knife or a pair of scissors.
Urn Plants Bromeliads are propagated from offsets appearing at the base of the plant. When the offset is several months old, remove it with some roots attached and plant shallow in free-draining bark soil. Place the set up in a warm shaded place until the plant is well established. Ensure the plant is well supported; due to their small roots it may topple over. Pot in a shallow heavy pot.
Growing Urn Plants Bromeliads where air is too dry will cause brown leaf tips. Employ these techniques to raise humidity.
Exposure to direct sunlight is the reason. Urn Plants Bromeliad does not like to be exposed to direct sunlight. Protect it from direct sunlight or move it to a shadier spot.
Inadequate light for Urn Plants Bromeliads is the cause of dark, soft, drooping, long leaves. Move it to a brighter spot; it prefers bright light but away from direct sunlight.
Root-rot Disease due to waterlogging is the reason if Urn Plants Bromeliad has not flowered. If it has flowered then rotting and death of rosette which bore flower-stalk is natural to give room for the new plants. Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a clean knife or a pair of scissors.
Urn Plants Bromeliads (Aechmea spp) are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors. However, the leaves bear short spines which may cause physical injury if handled with bare hands; always handle with gloves to prevent injury.