Advertisement

My Greenhouse Beauty


There are a few cyclical events in my life that I look forward to: the first lazy snowflakes, the emergence of a small spring bulb, the fulsome green of spring, my July birthday, and the sudden shocking pink of Aechmea fasciata leaping out of its silver urn.

This dependable July-blooming member of the Bromeliad family is popular for its pink spathes and blue seeds, which will linger, slowly losing color over three to four months, while around its base pups (bromeliad talk for small offsets) will form. The pups can be cut from the mother plant when they have reached 6 inches high or have formed six leaves (my own rule of six). Then the mother plant slowly dies.

Aechmea fasciata is native to Brazil and grows easily on a sunny windowsill, or even as a houseplant. But my aechmea is a greenhouse plant that has never seen the outdoors. I received it from my friend Rita Turow. (I am immortalizing her name here — she deserves it for giving me this plant.) The pot was so heavy that someone had to help bring it to me. It contained three plants with dried out flowers.

Photos By Nancy Kekst

As soon as they left, I quickly cut it apart and reduced it to one plant. That was in 1996. (I checked the date in my sometime journal.) So I am growing the great-great-granddaughter to the 16th generation, flowering all these years. My current plant is tall and narrow because I left it on the mother plant too long, but next year it will retain its normal shape.

Next July, that is.

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - MarApr 2017

I once knew a woman who vacuumed her rock garden. Seems a revered expert from the East Coast was coming on an inspection tour …


Article Thumbnail
Features
Butterfly Heaven

This Chicago garden attracts an astonishing variety of butterflies thanks to the biodiversity it offers in a neighborhood.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Gardener’s Guilt

I’m feeling guilty. Perhaps that’s because my column was due last week and I’ve now written, let’s see, 18 words. But I’m ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
They Died with Their Roots On

There is no better part of the year for a gardener than right now, assuming you’re reading this around March or April and ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Signs of Spring?

So here I am, wandering around with my nose towards the ground, scrounging for signs of spring. I’ve found a few — snowdrops ...


questions

Will a trumpet vine growing on a tree harm it?

Do the ants on my peony flowers help buds to open, or is this an old wives’ tale? What are the extremely tiny, microscopic yellow wormy looking bugs crawling on my pink peony flowers? My peonies are beautiful, but I don’t want all these bugs.

I have a large variegated sedum with pink flowers that I have had for years. I noticed that it has started to send up some all-green shoots. Why is it doing this and how can I keep my plant variegated?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement