Bizarre Bromeliads Thrive In Many Environments

The decorative use of plants is becoming more and more a part of home furnishing. Interiors have become more straightforward and practical, and accentuating plants should keep up with this trend.

We need streamlined species of simple form whose beauty will blend with the modern building, the new well-lighted rooms, the masses of color, and the bold lines of modern interiors.

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Also, the pace of modern life makes people desire plants that will take care of themselves.

Few plant families have as many marvelous forms in line and color or as much adaptability as does one scarcely known group, the bromeliads or broils.

Adaptable Bromeliads

The bromeliads have managed for so many centuries under adverse conditions in their native jungle penthouse or rocky mountain home that they have attained a simplified life. As house plants, they require the minimum of care and attention.

Although for the past five decades, they have been used in Europe to grace many homes, only now are we in this country realizing their value.

Bromeliads speak to you in the new idiom. They take their place with modern pottery and sculpture. Their individual forms are like living sculptured pieces.

Aechmea Marmorata “Grecian Vase”

We are fondest of plants with distinctive “body contour” and a patterned leaf. The best is Aechmea marmorata, the “Grecian Vase,” an exceptionally classic creation in plant life.

As an ultra-modern form, it deserves a narrow niche or a pedestal. The “Grecian Vase” rouses the most dormant observer. It expresses the essence of dignity, restraint, and purity of form.

Besides producing its flowers on a pink and blue spray in flay, it serves as a living vase. It holds a considerable amount of water between its leaves and makes an ample receptacle for cut flowers.

Aechmea Fasciata

Aechmea fasciata looks like a piece of sculpture. A “woven” horizontal white thread pattern enriches the green leaves, arch, and whorl in a standard rosette that is not equaled in any other bromeliad.

It can be used most effectively as an individual piece, displayed as you might a choice Chinese urn, a focal point in bold form.

It will blend anywhere a lovely green can be allowed, and where doesn’t an excellent green fit?

The relatively stiff leaves and the urn-like shape of this decline make it suitable as a living vase. An added fascination in late summer is the long-lasting pyramidal flower head with delicate, pink bracts enclosing sky-blue blooms. It’s bound to have a revolutionary effect on your friends.

“Body Contour” Plant

Billbergia leptopoda should be included as a “body contour” plant, although it is slightly humorous and a bit more informal than those mentioned above.

Its formality, however, is relieved because each leaf curls under, giving the appearance of a well-done hairdressing job.

Everybody enjoys calling it the “Permanent Wave” plant. It has proven to be a house plant par excellence, having been tested in a residence for over a year and a half with the minimum amount of water and light. Above all, it is a curiosity, delightful in its simple perkiness.

All bromeliads are more or less formal, but some can be found for an informal, cozy interior. Their lovely leaves are particularly notable and need to be considered mainly for their year-round appearance rather than for their flowers.

Aechmea Orlandina Hybrids

The mottled pattern of Aechmea Orlandina or one of its hybrids, such as the Aechmea hybrid “Bert,” is bizarre, without equal or rival in the world of plants.

The up-turned green leaves, embossed with black and maroon splotches, give a zebra effect that is quite stunning with modern or period furniture.

At maturity, a dashing and colorful accent, the orange flower head holding white flowers, pops up from the “basket” of leathery leaves.

Aechmea Miniata Discolor

Aechmea miniata discolor is a lovely semi-formal rosette of luscious satin-green leaves with wine-red undersides.

The two-toned color is perfect in a room having wine, mulberry, or maroon colors. In spring, an 8″ inch cluster of gay red berries tipped by lovely blue flowers appear. It lasts several weeks.

Neoregelia Spectabilis

Neoregelia spectabilis is one of the rosettes known for many years in horticulture and favored because of the brilliant red tips on each leaf. The popular name is the “Painted Fingernail” plant.

Looking down into the plant, you see the lovely green troughed leaves with brilliant fingernail tips. Then if you place this bromeliad up on a mantle, the grayed leaves with lighter gray bands show up, in surprising contrast to what one sees looking down on it.

This stiff-leaved plant can stand considerable neglect. It thrives best in a well-lighted room and can be classed among the informal bromeliads.

Neoregelia Marmorata

The charm of Neoregelia marmorata lies in its spotted foliage. Marmorata means “marbled,” and these leaves, arranged in a perfect rosette, are light green with marbled spots of red.

In color, it is on par with the old Paisley shawl, but this is a breathing, vital decoration, vibrant and in tune with the times. A turquoise blue container gives this bromeliad still more beauty.

For a striking plant that fits into almost any color scheme, Vriesea carinata Marie, a fall and winter-blooming bromeliad, deserves a choice of place.

Out of a lovely rosette of shiny, grass-green leaves is produced a brilliant “feather” of chartreuse and carmine so vivid that no one can resist it.

It has become known as the “Painted Feather,” and it looks like something from the birds, with all the flash and dash, all the sparkle and sputter of tropical plumage.

Many say “incredible,” insisting that it has been artificially formed and painted. This “feather” lasts about 6 months!

Do you know any plant that has held a flower head for so long? It is a sustaining, jaunty, informal accent for any interior.

Cryptanthus Types

Cryptanthus zonatus, Cryptanthus bivittatus, Cryptanthus acaulis, and Cryptanthus beuckeri are popular cryptanthus types.

The first named, Cryptanthus zonatus is perhaps the most striking, with colors and mottlings likened to the features of a pheasant.

Cryptanthus bivittatus has dignified stripes overcast with rose; the leaves seem to be stars piled atop one another.

Cryptanthus beuckeri, unlike most eryptanthus, has a long petiole that gives it a spoon-shaped leaf. It is ornate, with dark green splotches on the light green leaf.

You don’t need a green thumb with bromeliads; don’t worry too much about caring for these ideal houseplants. All but the cryptanthus described here are epiphytes and air plants.

In South and Central America, they live by fastening their roots to the branches of rough-barked trees from which they take no nourishment.

As jungle inhabitants, they receive much rainwater, which lodges at the base of the curved leaves, so their main concern is water, and rainwater when possible.

The best plan is to water twice a week. Contrary to many beliefs, water must stand between each leaf and the center cup.

Keep the soil moist enough, so it remains firm to hold the plant upright. Relatively little water is taken through the roots. A sprinkling under the faucet once a week is wise. It will give the thirsty leaves refreshment.

The potting medium can be made of equal parts of sand and leaf mold, a porous mixture that will not get soggy. It should have an acid reaction.

They take light and shade equally well; a reasonable amount of light is best, but happily, although they like being near windows, they do not insist upon it. Thus they make the ideal decorative accents to your furnishings.

In all bromeliads, the mother plant dies about a year after birth. In the meantime, the plant may have put out several side shoots, which attain a height of about 6″ inches at about six months of age. They can then be cut off and potted.

However, a cluster of several bromeliads makes a lovely decoration. So you may leave the shoots on for a long time.

Versatile beauties, straight from the jungle to your home, bromeliads are choice house plants. A little “plant feeling” will keep them that way.

44659 by Mulford And Racine Foster