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BROMELIADS

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Bromeliads, pronounced bro-meal-li-ad, are blooming plants from the tropics where they receive high humidity and plenty of warmth, as well as bright light. These are ideal conditions however the bromeliad can tolerate a wide variety of conditions making it a very good houseplant. The most well known bromeliad, Ananas is the edible pineapple, but not the best variety for growing indoors. The most popular varieties include Aechmea with a deep cup for storing water and very large pink flowers, Cryptanthus has very colorful foliage but the flowers are small and white and the plant is sometimes called "earth stars," and the Tillandsia with over 400 species ranging from colorful, small to large plants with either smooth or very rough leaves, mostly covered with a gray fuzz or scales.

Growing bromeliads in clay or plastic pots works fine as long as you use a very course, very loose soil with good drainage. While the bromeliad loves high humidity, over watering is its biggest enemy. The root system could be wrapped in moist sphagnum moss and attached to a piece of wood then hung on the wall. Misting would be advised as well as a good soaking 2 or 3 times a week by dipping it in the sink or a bucket of water. Be very careful not to damage your wall or paint job with the moisture.

The colorful foliage and the long lasting blooms are the reasons for having these plants in our homes but bringing them back into bloom is the fun stuff. Do not re-pot your bromeliads, as they prefer a compact root area. After the blooms die off, allow your plant to "hang around" for a month or so under normal conditions. But around the first of February, place your plant into a plastic bag along with an apple. The rotting, decaying apple will emit ethylene gas that will, in turn, induce your bromeliad back into bloom. Allow the apple to remain in the plastic bag with your plant for 7 to 10 days but do not expect to see any flowers for 6 to 14 weeks, depending on the variety.

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