Aechmea chantinii

This species , native to the rain forests of the Amazon, was introduced into Europe in 1877. It is one of the most widely cultivated species of Aechmea. The extremely decorative rosette of tough, leathery leaves resembles a large funnel 59-60 cm (20-24 in) in diameter. The leaves are 5-6 cm (2-2.5 inch) wide, with long brown spines on the margins as well as one at the tip. The inflorescence growing from the centre of the rosette is up to 40 cm (16 in) high and has striking bright red bracts. The sepals are

slightly more than 1 cm (0.5 in) long and coloured red with a green tip; the petals are yellow and are not nearly as eyecatching as the bracts. A great advantage is that the flowers are very long-lasting.

This Aechmea can be grown in a pot or as an epiphyte on a branch or stump. All species of Aechmea do well at normal room temperature and will tolerate higher temperatures. Do not allow the winter temperature to fall below 15°C (59° F). The plants must be provided with constant moisture. As long as there is water in the centre of the rosette it does not matter if the compost dries out by chance. If the plant is grown in a pot, the compost should be a mixture of peat, litter and sand; if it is grown as an epiphyte, its base should be wrapped in sphagnum moss to which some compost has been added. When misting the plant be sure some water remains in the centre of the rosette.

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