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Re: Bromeliads

Andrea, not Dave, but Bromeliads are one of my passions, been growing them  
for more than a decade.  
When I first got into them, I had tried a few times to grow some, but had  
never had any success.  Once you know how, it is really simple.  Of  course 
there are several different types, and not all have the same cultural  
requirements, however for the most part.....the rule of thumb is:
If the bromeliad has a cup (center area of plant) and it is fairly stiff  
leaved, then it is an epiphyte and requires no water at all at the base, in fact  
it doesn't even require soil.  You just make sure the cup has water.   This 
applies to Neoregelia, Aechmea, and Billbergia.   These will also  take more 
sun, but do fine in bright light.
Most of these have either green or colored foliage.
If the bromeliad has thin leaves and are mostly grass green.  These  are a 
bit more delicate, require no sun at all (easily sunburned), are best in  light 
shade, also indoor.  These also are watered in the cup.  These  are mostly in 
the Vriesia genus.  Have the tall blooms that come out of the  center.....are 
the ones mostly seen at box stores, although now they are  starting to sell a 
lot of the forementioned genera too.
Then there are the "earth stars" which are Cryptanthus, these are the  
terrestrials.  Have colored foliage and are relatively small, flatter  rosettes.  
These do best under trees, where they get filtered shade and  reg. water.
Dyckia and Hechtia are also terrestrials, these are the bromeliads that  look 
more like cacti....very very stiff spiny foliage, no cups in the  
center......unlike cacti these can take a lot of water, do very well in full sun  in any 
There are various other genera, however these are the ones seen mostly for  
sale.  From what you described, it sounds like you and David both have  
Aechmea.  They are the large landscape type.  Have a cup in the  center.  As long as 
they have some water in the cup, they will  thrive.  Aechmea can take quite a 
bit of sun.
Once a bromeliad blooms it will NOT rebloom.  It will send out pups  from 
it's base.  The original "mother" plant that bloomed will eventually  die off 
very slowly as the pups grow.  If you keep the bromeliads in a  clump, the pups 
will grow around the dying mother plant, so that you will never  notice.  As 
the foliage at the bottom browns and dries, just simply pull it  off.  If you 
prefer to keep the bromeliad as a specimen (single plant),  then wait until the 
pup is at least 1/3-1/2 the size of the mother plant and cut  it as close to 
the initial stalk as possible.  If you cut it off too soon,  it will not make 
it.  You can then replant this or mount it on a corkboard,  or drift wood.  I 
have mine growing naturally in the trees and such.   The larger types are best 
as landscape plants around trees, where the ground  will not stay wet.   
The easiest way to kill a bromeliad is to over water it.  If  you water the 
base (pot or soil if in ground) and keep it moist, the  bromeliad will rot.  If 
you plant them, do not plant the base of the plant,  only the hard stalk 
part.  I rotted so many initially, because I figured  they had to be watered like 
any other plant.  Now I only put water in the  cup and they thrive.  They are 
the easiest plant to grow, since you dont'  have to take care of it on a daily 
basis....even here with our heat, I water  mine once a week.  As long as they 
have some water in the cup, they are  happy.  
If you have any more questions, just ask. Hope this helped a little.
zone 9
Texas Gulf Coast/ West Houston
In a message dated 8/15/2008 7:20:19 PM Central Daylight Time,  
andreah@hargray.com writes:

Hi  Dave-I confess I did not recall you promised me a bromeliad. I also  
that might not be a good idea. I seem to be a bromeliad killer. The  only one 
haven't managed to kill yet is my giant silver leaved one, can't  recall the
genus or species at the moment-I need more coffee. Oh I forgot,  I also have
one small one that seems to be doing OK. I need to study more  about them. I
also am wondering when my big one is going to bloom again. I  "saved" it from
the Garden Gate when it was going to be thrown out. It's  really gorgeous-one
of those that all the places sell with the big silver  leaves and pink 

How do you get those guys to  thrive????

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