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

Lincoln Park Zoo Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Searching for Nature (In All the Wrong Places)

You might have noticed, as you were reading through this magazine, that there are stories about the birds and the bees (which...


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - Jul/Aug 2014

Gardeners are a fickle lot. Either we’re rhapsodizing gooey-eyed about the resplendent, transcendent wonder of whatever ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
A Clear and Present Danger

I was recently interviewing a well-known garden writer about the benefits of an outdoor space in which to contemplate and …


Article Thumbnail
Features
Cooking Up a Great Garden

When David Van Zelst comes home after a busy day running his landscaping business, he likes to cook. No surprise there, …


Article Thumbnail
Columns
There Is No “I” in Ideas

This, as I have been told by the esteemed staff of Chicagoland Gardening magazine, is the Ideas Issue.


questions

What is the best way to dig up, clean and store gladiolus and dahlias? What are the little white sacs on glad bulbs?

From what I have read, hellebores are supposed to spread. I have a few I planted four years ago, and they seem to be the same as when I planted them. They are planted in a bed of vinca. Should I remove more vinca that surrounds them? I do fertilize them and protect them with a winter mulch. What else should I be doing to have more plants?

What causes black spots on my orchid leaves?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement