Yes, I wrote about bromeliads in March and am writing about them again for two reasons.
1. We have a beautiful flower spike on our Aechmea blanchetiana that is worth making the trip to see. It will probably be even more beautiful in another week!
2. Mary Keith of our Extension office (and a fellow Baylife columnist) is donating many bromeliads for us to give away. See the end of this article for details.
Aechmea blanchetiana, when placed in full sun, has orange foliage with red tips. In the shade, the foliage is green. This plant can reach a height of 2 to 4 feet and a spread of 1 to 2 feet. It generally flowers in the spring, but ours is a bit late.
The flower stalk bears a cluster of long-lasting red and yellow bracts. Some people cut the flower stalk and bring it inside their homes to appreciate in a vase. This bromeliad does well in mass planting, in containers, as a groundcover and can be grown indoors.
Any type of soil works well, from clay loam to sandy loam, from sand to sandy clay. It has high drought tolerance and poor salt tolerance. Aechmea blanchetiana prefers well drained soil moisture and can be grown epiphytically, without soil, and you can place moss around the roots. Propagation is from division or by seed.
Wear thick gloves when handling this plant, because the leaf margins are sharp (spiny).
For information on this lovely bromeliad, please see the University of Florida publication from which this article was adapted, “Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliad,” by Edward F. Gilman, at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FP/FP01400.pdf.
If you are interested in winning a bromeliad or two and have not previously won a plant or seeds in other giveaways, please email me. The first five people to email me will receive notification that they won some of these plants. If you win, you need to pick up your plants this week at our office in Seffner. Thanks to Dr. Keith for the donations!
The Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden is one of several demonstration gardens at the UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Service, 5339 County Road 579, Seffner.