Origin and Distribution
The lance rosette (bot. Aechmea fasciata) is one of around 180 different species of the genus Aechmea, which in turn belongs to the bromeliad and pineapple family (bot. Bromeliaceae). The popular houseplant is widespread in the tropical and subtropical rainforests of Brazil, but is also sometimes found in other regions of Central and South America. There the epiphytic plant thrives at altitudes between 700 and 1300 meters above sea level, far away from the ground and on the giant jungle giants. Imported to England as early as 1826, the lance rosette is one of the most frequently cultivated bromeliads in living rooms today. This is not only due to their interesting growth and long-lasting flowering, but also to their simplicity.
- Caring for the lance rosette is that easy
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Appearance and stature
The species Aechmea fasciata is a so-called funnel or cistern bromeliad. These are epiphythically growing plants (“epiphytic plants”), the leaves of which form a broad rosette. This in turn serves as a funnel (4.63 € on Amazon *) in which water collects. Funnel bromeliads are veritable small biotopes, as they are home to smaller animal species (such as tree frogs) and various aquatic plants. The lance rosette - which owes its German name to the lance-like shape of its leaves, as indicated by the ancient Greek word aechme for "lance tip" - is up to 50 centimeters wide and 60 centimeters high.
Incidentally, the type is known to some carpenters under the name “silver vase”, as the silvery leaves form a funnel reminiscent of a vase.
The leaf rosette consists of about ten to 20 coarse, hard leaves with thorns along the edges. These are up to 50 centimeters long and up to ten centimeters wide. Typical of Aechmea fasciata is the interesting leaf drawing, which can be banded or marbled. The drawing is created by silvery-white suction scales (the so-called trichomes) distributed differently on the upper and lower sides of the leaves, which either appear over the entire surface or form cross bands. There are also cultivars with yellow variegated leaves.
Blossoms and flowering period
Between July and November, the inflorescences of the Aechmea fasciata, up to 35 centimeters in size, can be admired. These consist of pink bracts armed with numerous spines - the botanist speaks of bracts - which rise like a rosette on a shaft above the leaf funnel, as well as the actual flowers. These in turn reach a length of up to approx. 3.5 centimeters each and are threefold. The petals are initially blue in color and only turn red as they wither. The small flowers fade very quickly.
After flowering, the lance rosette forms pineapple-like berry fruits if the hermaphrodite flowers are pollinated. For the reproduction, however, the numerous Kindel are of greater importance.
Both the leaves and flowers of the aechmea contain toxins that can irritate the skin. But that's not the only reason why you should always wear gloves when doing maintenance work: quite a few gardeners have injured themselves on the heavily prickly plant.
Which location is suitable?
Epiphytic plants such as the lance rosette need a lot of light, after all for this reason they grow on the jungle trees - and not in the shady ground area of the rainforest. You should therefore place Aechmea fasciata in a bright location, if possible next to a window, and ensure there is as much sunlight as possible. Direct sunlight does not harm the plant as long as it is protected from the scorching midday sun during the summer months.
The bromeliad is the perfect plant for the living room, as it needs temperatures of at least 18 ° C all year round - better still around 20 ° C - and can also tolerate dry heating air during the winter months quite well. Only strong fluctuations in temperature need to be avoided. In summer, the lance rosette feels at home in a bright, but not directly sunny location on the balcony or terrace.
In contrast to the orchids, which also live epiphytically, Aechmea can also be cultivated very well in good potted plant soil (without peat, based on humus). This should have a pH value of 5 and be mixed with perlite, (€ 32.90 at Amazon *) expanded clay (€ 17.50 at Amazon *) or another suitable material for better permeability. Of course, you can also use commercially available bromeliad.
Alternatively, a substratum-free culture for the lance rosette is also possible, especially since it corresponds to the natural environment. To do this, tie the plant to a piece of wood either with wire or with sheer tights. A base made of sphagnum moss is not necessary and is also not recommended because of the risk of rot. Aechmea is not very demanding with regard to the wooden base and can handle almost any type of wood. Oak, spruce or robinia wood, for example, are very suitable.
Planting and repotting
If the Aechmea is to be cultivated in a planter, choose one made from the heaviest possible material. A clay or ceramic pot is better than a plastic pot, as it gives the plant, which is quite top-heavy during the flowering period, more stability. The planter should also have a large drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, through which excess water can drain away. Prevent clogging of the drainage hole by filling in inorganic, coarse material (e.g. pottery shards, pebbles) as the bottom layer. After planting, the bromeliad must be watered vigorously.
Since the epiphyte only develops a few roots, it neither needs a particularly large pot nor does it have to be repotted frequently. About every two to three years, however, it makes sense to move to fresh substrate, whereby the adhering old soil must be removed as far as possible.
Aechmea fasciata gets the moisture it needs from two sources: While you only have to water the plant moderately with water that is low in lime, the funnel in the heart of the leaf rosette should always be filled with water. Always provide the plant with collected rainwater or stale tap water when the surface of the substrate has dried off. During the winter months between November and March, reduce the watering.
Although the lance rosette can cope with dry indoor air, it feels more comfortable as a typical rainforest plant with higher humidity. Therefore, spray them with lime-free water several times a week at temperatures above 18 ° C. Avoid the inflorescence, otherwise it could rot.
Fertilize Aechmea properly
As an epiphyte, Aechmea has only a low nutritional requirement, which is why you only supply the plant with a highly diluted liquid fertilizer for flowering plants every two weeks between April and September. Always apply the fertilizer with the irrigation water, which you put directly into the leaf funnel - the bromeliad does not absorb nutrients from the substrate, or only with great difficulty because of the few roots. You fertilize specimens tied to wood by adding the agent to the spray water. There is no fertilization during the winter months.
You do not need to fertilize in the year after repotting.
Cut aechmea properly
Special cutting measures are neither necessary nor useful for the lance rosette. Only the bloomed inflorescence can be removed with the help of a sharp and clean knife. Make sure you don't forget your gloves!
The easiest way to multiply the lance rosette is through the so-called Kindel, which are numerous in the root area immediately after flowering. These are side farces that ensure the survival of the plant - after all, the mother plant dies after flowering. If possible, let the small Aechmea stand until next spring and only separate them when they are about half the size of the mother plant. From April you expose the shoots in the substrate, separate the children and plant them separately in new pots.
Between November and March you should only observe the following care rules:
- Sufficiently bright location even in the cold (and poorly lit) season
- slowly water less from October
- From November only water at a reduced rate
- Do not fertilize any more from November
- Ensure temperatures between 18 and 20 ° C all year round
- Avoid strong temperature fluctuations (e.g. during winter ventilation)
- no drafts
- Slowly increase the watering amount from March
- fertilize again from April
Diseases and pests
With regard to diseases and pests, the lance rosette proves to be pleasantly robust, whereby problems usually arise in relation to care errors:
- brown leaves: leaves burn if the location is too sunny, humidity too low, temperature too low
- Putrefaction (rotting leaves or flowers, putrefactive smell from the substrate): too much water, waterlogging, room temperature too low
- Spider mites or mealybugs and scale insects: occur especially when the humidity is too low
The pests mentioned can be combated very well with a self-made preparation made from one liter (lime-free) water, 15 milliliters of curd soap and 15 milliliters of alcohol (optional). It is essential to isolate the infected plant to avoid infection and spray it with the home remedy described every several days.
If the aechmea doesn't really want to bloom, the following trick sometimes helps: cut a ripe apple in half, empty the plant's water reservoir and place the apple in it for a few days. The fruit emits ethylene, a gas that promotes flowering and fruit ripening.
Species and varieties
In addition to the “wild form” described here, there are various varieties of the Aechmea fasciata species, which for example have different flower colors - in addition to pink there are also varieties with yellow-orange flowers - and multicolored leaves. 'Variegata', for example, develops strikingly colored leaves with broad, yellow vertical stripes. Those who don't like spines can choose the 'Primera' variety, whose inflorescences are unreinforced and smooth.