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Botanical name: Aechmea spp
Aechmea Bromeliads commonly called Urn Plants are popular plants that are grown indoors 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 Aechmea 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) and require that you take care when handling.
Aechmea Bromeliads may take several years to reach the flowering stage but the display may last upto 6 months.
These Bromeliads will mature at the age of 2-5 years and it is at maturity when they flower. Once the flower-head fades, the rosette of leaves begins to die and is replaced by offsets (pups) at the base of the plant.
The display of the flower head is due to the presence of long-lasting showy bracts; true flowers are small and short-lived.
There are about 250 species in the Aechmea genus which are native to the American Jungle from Mexico through South America, where they dwell among the Orchids on trees or on the forest floors.
The name Aechmea comes from the Greek word, 'aichme', which means 'spear' in reference to the spear-shaped flower head.
Several varieties of Aechmea Bromeliads are available like Aechmea fasciata commonly called Urn plant is by far the most popular one.
Other popular plants in this group are Aechmea chantinii (Amazonian Zebra plant), Aechmea caudata, Aechmea fulgens discolor (Coral Berry) and the dwarf Aechmea Foster's Favorite among many other varieties.
If you would like to add these pretty plants to your collection, beautiful Urn Plants are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Aechmea Bromeliads (Urn Plants) online from Etsy.
Photo Credit: Bloomscape
Aechmea Bromeliads (Urn Plants) thrive in bright light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and consistently moist soil that is rich in organic matter coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season.
Urn Plants require pruning to keep the plant neat and tidy and to allow adequate room for the new plants (pups) to grow. Repotting may not be necessary as the plants have a small root system which is unlikely to fill the pot. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Aechmea Bromeliad grows best in bright light but away from direct sunlight to avoid sunscorch on the leaves.
Rotate the pot regularly to ensure the Urn Plant receives light on all sides for even growth.
Urn Plants can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not sufficient.
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 Urn Plants are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals that may be dissolved in water.
Moisten the soil only when it dries to keep the roots moist; avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot.
Allow good air circulation for the plant to discourage pest and disease infestations.
The best temperature for growing Aechmea Bromeliads indoors is an average warmth with a minimum of 150C. However, to bring the plant to flower will require temperatures above 260C.
Keep Urn Plants away from drafts to avoid sudden changes in temperatures as they can negatively affect growth and eventual death of the plant.
Aechmea Bromeliads require a humid enviroment inorder to thrive. If the humidity is too low, the plant will respond with brown leaf tips and edges.
To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
You can also grow the Urn Plant in the moist areas of the home like the bathroom, kitchen and laundry area if the lighting is adequate.
Aechmea Bromeliads can also be grown in a terrarium as a humid environment can easily be maintained inside a terrarium.
Always ensure that there is good air circulation to prevent pests and diseases infestation.
Feed Aechmea Bromeliad with a liquid fertilizer (foliar feed) every 2 weeks during the growing season for lush growth.
Do not feed the Urn Plant during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and it may cause fertilizer burn and eventual death of the plant.
Repotting Aechmea Bromeliad is not necessary as its roots are tiny and are unlikely to fill the pot.
Pot the Urn Plant in a shallow heavy pot to prevent it from toppling over as it can become top-heavy and provide it with support to help keep it upright.
The best soil for Aechmea Bromeliad should be rich in organic matter, loose, free-draining bark soil to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
Most orchid potting mixes are ideal for the plant as they drain easily. Buy quality Orchid Potting Mix for Urn Plant online from Etsy.
Pruning Aechmea Bromeliad involves removal of dead leaves to keep the plant neat and tidy and to allow adequate room for the new plants (pups) to grow.
Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a sharp, clean knife or a pair of scissors to avoid unnecessary injury as well as minimize disease infestations.
Aechmea Bromeliads (Urn Plants) propagation can be done from offsets (pups) appearing at the base of the plant.
When the Urn Plant offset (pup) is several months old or 1/3 to 1/2 the height of mother plant, seperate it from its mother by cutting with a sterilized sharp knife or scissors.
Ensure that the offset has some roots attached to it to hasten establishment.
Plant the offset shallowly in loose, free-draining, bark soil and place the set up in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight.
Allow the new Urn Plant to be well established after which you can begin routine care.
Make sure that the new plant is well supported as the roots are small and it may topple over as it is top heavy.
Photo Credit: Bloomscape
Aechmea Bromeliad (Urn Plant) problems indoors are caused by cultural faults. These problems include drooping leaves, brown leaf tips, plant death, leaf patches, pests and diseases. Read on for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.
Brown leaf tips in Aechmea Bromeliad are due to too dry air which means low air humidity as the plant thrives in a humid environment.
Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity for the Urn Plant or grow the plant in the humid areas of the home like the bathroom, kitchen and laundry area but ensure that the lighting is adequate.
Pale, brown leaf patches in Aechmea Bromeliad are sunscorch marks due to exposure of the plant to hot direct sunshine.
Urn Plant does not like to be exposed to direct sunlight. Protect it from direct sunlight by installing a light curtain to filter the light or move it to a shadier spot.
Dark, soft and drooping leaves in Aechmea Bromeliad is caused by inadequate light (too little light) as it grows best in bright light away from direct sunlight.
Move the Urn Plant to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light away from direct sunlight or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is inadequate.
If the Aechmea Bromeliad has not flowered, then root-rot brought about by soggy soil is the cause of its death. Read on how to treat root-rot disease in houseplants.
If the Urn Plant has flowered, then rotting and death of rosette which bore the flower-stalk is natural. This to give room for the growth of new plants (pups) which form at the base of the plant.
Remove the dead foliage by cutting at the base with a sharp, clean knife or a pair of scissors.
Common pests in Aechmea Bromeliads are Scales and Mealy Bugs. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it with Neem oil or Insecticidal soap to get rid of the pests.
Aechmea Bromeliads (Urn Plants) 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 wear gloves when handling the Urn Plant to prevent injury.