One of the most ornamental landscape Bromeliads, this plant grows to a meter in height by 1.5m wide at maturity. It occurs along the Atlantic coast of Brazil growing terrestrially in the sand behind the dunes. It also grows into the surrounding rainforest as an epiphyte.
The amazing golden orange foliage colour is only seen when the plant is grown in full sunlight. If the plant is grown in the shade the plant will turn green, losing its striking appearance. If plants are pampered with too much fertiliser and water they will also tend to lose colour so this is definitely a plant that responds to neglect.
The floral display of Aechmea blanchetiana is both spectacular and long lasting. The buds appear in the new year and when mature the flower spike can get up to two meters tall. The thin heavily branched inflorescence is a combination of red and yellow.
In the wild this plant is pollinated by nectar feeding birds. In Australia the Noisy Miners are happy to drink the nectar and in turn pollinate the small yellow day flowers. This will in time produce a small purple berry.
The inflorescences stay on the plant with good colour for up to eight months.
Aechmea blanchetiana grows best in free draining soils and visually is striking when grown on raised mounds to bring it up to eye level. The use of a contrasting groundcover under it also helps the plant to really stand out in the garden.
As the plant matures it will produce 5 to 7 pups. These can be removed to start new plants easily when they are about a third the size of the parent plant.
Researched by Bruce Dunstan at Stockade Nursery Ph (07) 5495 8546
For more information about plants for tropics, subtropics and warm temperate climates, refer to subTropical Gardening magazine at www.stgmagazine.com