One of the better know of the genus is Aechmea fasciata, and although it maybe not known by name it is widely recognised and grown both as an outdoor plant and as an indoor specimen.
Aslo known as the Silver Urn or Silver Vase plant, with wonderful foliage, green and silver striped, it is worth growing for this alone. However it is the tall flower spike that appears in spring that is the real eye catcher. The flower is long lasting and can reach to over .5m.
And just to add to the variety, look for A. fasciata var. purpurea, green and purple foliage, (see picture at right) well worth looking for. A. fasciata primera is a ‘thornless form’.
Growing conditions and care
Remember that these are an epiphytic plant, they grow on trees and rocks, so the nutrients come from the air and water. They require very little fertiliser, we have used some slow release fertiliser once a year with OK results, but generally steer away from these and use a foliar fertilizer, a liquid seaweed fertilizer at 1/3 strength, seems to work very well for us.
- Use a free draining potting mix, such as fine orchid bark or cactus and succulent mix.
- Best grown in filtered light, so excellent for dry shade beneath trees.
- Watering is only required during very dry summers.
- Fertiliser needs are minimal. A little liquid seaweed fertiliser once a year is usually sufficient.
- The central ‘tank’ will fill with debris and leaf litter. You can flush these out occasionally with a gentle flow of water, or pick the leaves and debris out by hand..
The easiest method of propagation is by removing the side shoots or pups, Aechmea Fasciata can also be grown from seed.
So these useful landscaping or potted plants are a real winner in filtered light to a partly sunny position in a well drained soil. We like to use a very fine orchid mix with Aechmea Fasciata to ensure good drainage, or mix in some sharp sand and perlite with a commercial potting mix (one without water retention crystals).