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Aechmea (Grecian Vase, Living Vase Plant)

AECHMEA (Grecian Vase, Living Vase Plant) A. species Bromeliaceae

HABITAT: Native to tropical America. Zone 10.

USES: Pot plants, houseplant and greenhouse.

HABIT: Tough, spine-edged leaves, with colors and markings dependent upon species, arise from the root stalk to overlap each other to form a 'cup' or long tube from the inside of which emerges the flower spike.  Flower colors and forms dependent upon species, as below, with some species bearing white, red, or blue berries which last several months.  Plants are epiphytic.

SEED GERMINATION AND CULTURE:  Pot up in fir bank, equal parts of leaf mold and osmunda, or equal parts of coarse sand and peat moss.  Add a small amount of charcoal to the mix.  Keep the mix moist at all times; reduce watering during the winter months.  Keep the 'cup' at the base of the leaves filled with water constantly.  Aechmeas grow best with night temperatures 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit and day temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.  Increase the humidity, which will be beneficial, by frequent misting and placing the potted plants on pebble filled trays of water, being careful that the water does not touch the pot bottom.  Keep plants in bright, indirect, or curtain-filtered sunlight.  Aechmeas will do well under 12 hours of  fluorescent lights.  Top dress each year with leaf mold or feed every 3 months with a standard houseplant fertilizer at 1/2 strength.  More frequent fertilization or heavier fertilization is not necessary. When flowers fade, suckers will appear at the base of the plants.  Cut them out when they are 2 to 4 inches in height and pot them separately.

SPECIES: A. caudata - white striped foliage, lengthwise.
A. chantinii - 1-1/2" red bracts tipped with yellow.  Brownish green leaves striped with silver.
A. calyculata to 20".  Crown of vivid yellow.  April.
A. fasciata - 24".  Tufted 1-1/2" blue and pink flowers during spring.  Light green banded silver.
A. fulgens - 16".  Zone 10.  Brazil.  Green leaves 3" wide with 1-1/2" scarlet flowers tipped blue. Variety discolor has red leaf undersides and red and blue flowers.
A. maginali - 30".  Droopy red flowers.  Winter.  Blue-black berries.
A. marmorata - 12".  Zone 10 (Grecian Vase) Mottled leaves.  Pink bracts with blue petals.
A. pubescens - 12-20".  Wheat colored flowers.  Fall.  White berries.
A. racinae - 14".  Red, black, yellow at Christmas time.
A. ramosa - 40".  Pyramidal head of yellow flowers with red bracts.  Summer.
A. weilbachii - 20".  Lavender with red bracts.  Winter.

INSECTS: Scale; use an approved insecticide such as Malathion.

DISEASES:  Not generally a problem.

PROPAGATION:  Cuttings, off-sets.