Aechmea fasciata is an exotic-looking bromeliad that grows epiphytically in its natural habitat in the rainforests of Brazil. In temperate climates it is grown as a houseplant. Aechmea fasciata 'Primera' forms a rosette of broad green leaves with silver-grey horizontal markings. From the centre it bears a large flower spike with pink bracts dotted with small purple flowers.
Grow Aechmea fasciata 'Primera' in a warm room, in a bright spot out of direct sun. It likes humidity, so place on a tray of damp pebbles or mist regularly. In its natural habitat the rosette of leaves form an 'urn' or well, which collects rainwater. As a houseplant, the plant is watered by filling the urn, too, to around one inch deep. Ideally, use rainwater, or failing that, distilled or filtered water. Empty and refill the urn every couple of weeks to prevent the water stagnating.
The plant is usually sold in flower. This will last for many weeks before it fades and the plant dies back. The plant will form 'pups' or baby plants at its base – when they are around a third of the size of the parent plant, they can be cut away and potted up, forming new plants.
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