The "Practical Spirituality" Newspaper

The Beauty of Aechmea Blanchetiana

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2010 at 5:05 pm

There we were racing around the backstreets on our way to Byron Bay. With our minds firmly on traveling ( and somewhat distracted from our true mission – plant shopping ) we followed a windy back street as the storm clouds rolled in. There was going to be a storm.

As we rounded one corner, I yelled “pull over” and with a *screech of brakes ( *dramatized for the purposes of the blog ) we stopped a couple of houses up the road from what looked like a clump of Aechmea’s; the first bromeliads seen on the trip. When I got closer, I realized that it actually was a cousin genus; that of Genus Portea. Portea petropolitana to be exact.

There it was, grown to perfection and flowering it’s thorny leaves off. About 6 spikes in all, each measuring about 3/4 meter long with hundreds of pearlescent purple flowers.

There was nothing outstandingly remarkable about this plant ( other than being our first Bromeliad sighting of the trip ) as I have one flowering at home. Yes, it’s flowering but the spike is puny compared to this beast.

Anyway, after chatting with the son of the landowner, I wrestled a piece of the prize and was on the road once again. Not 100 meters down and around the bend I yelled “stop!” and again with a silky screech of the aforementioned brakes, we pulled to a halt and parked.

This time what grabbed my eye was a bright orange-leaved, Aechmea blanchetiana. For those who know their Skyflowers, Aechmea blanchetiana is the Flower of Consideration. The flower for ‘stiff willed’ and inflexible people.

Chatting with the owner of this gigantic beauty, who happened to be out the front, I found out that she too was a Bromeliad addict, and in the blink of a plant-nuts eye, we were soon walking around the fenceless property. Spotting an ailing clump of Portea, I raced to the car and grabbed the large and healthy pup I had procured just 100m back.

In a moment of bonding between fellow gardeners, I thrust the pup into the ladies hand and sealed the deal on 4 variegated Agaves; nice ones. Really nice ones, with no thorns on the insides of the leaves making them very friendly. And so it was on; the plant trading had begun… and in my heart, I knew that this was going to a good trip.

Aechmea blanchetiana grows outdoors up here in the neo-tropics, whereas in Melbourne you either need to grow it under heat. Or keep it in a dry area of the garden. I have several growing, but they grow very slowly down south because of our obese Winters.

A great landscaper, Aechmea blancehtiana comes in a variety of leaf colors. There’s the standard green ( which actually is tinged with orange ), orange ( as in the photo ), yellow and there’s even a bright red form which is red hot. Flowers are born atop 6′ high flower spikes and look like yellow lightning bolts. Grow one, you’ll love it.


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