Care of Silver Urn Plant - Silver Urn Plant Bracts & Flowers
Care of Silver Urn Plant - Silver Urn Plant Bracts & Flowers

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant (Aechmea fasciata)

The requirements for the care of Silver Urn Plant (Aechmea fasciata) are minimal, and in part this justifies the great popularity of the plant, but in general it owes it both to its attractive foliage and its impressive and long-lasting flowering.

The Silver Urn Plant or Living Vase originates from the rainforests of Brazil, located in the greater Rio de Janeiro area, and is found at an altitude of 700 to 1300 m.

It belongs to the Bromeliaceae family, it is a perennial, rhizomatous, monocarpic epiphyte, while it reaches a height of about 90 cm and a width of 60 cm. It has large elongated and thick leaves of silver-gray and green color, which grow almost arched, arranged as a rosette.

From the base of the rosette, which forms a natural water collection tank, an urn, a flowering stem emerges that bears on its top the pink color inflorescence. The feeling of the flower is conveyed by the bracts, while the real flowers of the plant are blue and are small and ephemeral.

The following article is dedicated to the care of this very elegant plant, which for about two centuries, since 1828, when its systematic cultivation began, adorn homes, offices and gardens, almost all over the world.

The impressive pink color of the Urn Plant’s inflorescence comes from the bract leaves, while the real flowers are blue.

Aechmea fasciata Flowers & Silver Leaves
Aechmea fasciata Flowers & Silver Leaves
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Light & Location

Almost all states of exposure of the Silver Urn Plant to light are tolerated by the plant when it is in bloom, starting from its almost complete absence and reaching to its abundant diffusion in space.

However, for the "handmade" Aechmea fasciata plants, which the plant lover started propagating by themselves, and for the promotion of their flowering as well as for the optimal silver color of the leaves, the best places are those that, in addition to being extremely bright, also accept direct sunlight for a short time.

As for the almost completely dark, there needs to be special attention to watering, because any excess can lead to rot of the plant.

For the colder regions the most enviable locations may be near a western exposure window, while for the warmer ones an eastern one.

Also, for cases where it is not desirable to boil or roast the brilliant representative of the Bromeliad family, then a distance of 3 to 4 meters from the heat sources is desirable and necessary.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Temperature

The temperature range for the normal development of the Silver Urn Plant indoors is between 12 and 32 °C.

Below 12 and up to 1.7 °C, the appearance of the plant is affected, since yellow leaves appear while the possibility of its normal flowering is disturbed.

Above 32 and up to 36 °C the same phenomena can be observed, to the extent that both the watering and the humidity of the indoor space are not supportive for the Aechmea fasciata.

Favorable temperature range on the other hand is the one that ranges between 16 and 30 °C, while for the winter season especially, temperatures from 18 to 24 °C, promote, among other things, the possibility of flowering of the plant.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Humidity

For a tropical rainforest plant, such as the Aechmea, high relative humidity in the areas where it grows is welcome.

From this perspective, a humidity of between 50 and 60% is appropriate, and creating a microclimate with these characteristics around the plant should be a permanent pursuit.

The placement of the pot with the plant in a gaspo planter or the permanent presence of water in the urn formed by the base of the leaves of Aechmea fasciata contribute to this purpose.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Watering of Silver Urn Plant

The closest to the natural way of supplying the Silver Urn Plant with water is the one with the filling of the natural cavity formed by the rosette of leaves at their base, the urn, as well as the watering of the substrate.

Of course, care must be taken not to create the proper conditions for the growth of bacteria, as well as Phytophthora spp. and Sclerotium rolfsii fungi, which cause respectively Crown Rot and Southern Blight and are favored by excessive watering.

For this reason, the substrate should be watered every time it dries almost to the middle, while during the winter the watering is recommended to be further reduced. Also, if the bright representative of the Bromeliads is in a relatively dark environment then it is preferable that the urn has no water at all.

In any case, watering is done with good quality water – and not hard, and / or sometimes not even with that of household water.

It is also recommended that the central cavity of the plant be emptied of water every week and then filled again, in order, among other things, to avoid the multiplication of mosquitoes and therefore the heroic battle of the inhabitants with these abhorrent bloodthirsty insects.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Care of Silver Urn Plant - Silver Urn Plant in a Pot
Care of Silver Urn Plant - Silver Urn Plant in a Pot

Fertilization

The Silver Urn Plant in its natural environment feeds by the materials that accumulate on it, usually – but not only – from the plant that in some of its branches grows as an epiphyte. In addition, its root system is small, and it mainly plays a supporting role – even when it grows on a rock.

Thus, it is recommended to use a complete and balanced liquid fertilizer for its fertilization, such as that of the type 10-10-10, but in half of the indicative amount than that on the label, with which mainly its leaves are sprayed but also a little the surface of the substrate.

Fertilization takes place every 15 days, from mid-Spring to mid-Autumn, and every 30 days for the rest of the year.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Propagation of Silver Urn Plant

The Silver Urn Plant is a monocarpic species, which means that as soon as it blooms and produces seeds, it dries up and dies. However, it will usually leave behind 1 to 4 young plants (offshoots) or pups, which are genetically identical to the parent.

These young plants, which take about a year to grow, can be left to develop in their place, or separated when they reach 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother, thus contributing in the asexual propagation of the plant.

The cutting from the mother plant is done by hand, having taken the plants out of the pot, and pushing each pup downwards until the sound of breaking is heard.

Then, each individual pup is placed in a pot slightly larger than its root system, and on a substrate whose composition will be discussed a little later, in the transplant of the Peak.

The pots with the pups are left in bright places but not directly exposed to sunlight, and care is taken for about a month so that their substrate does not dry out.

After this time, their treatments are like any other growing Aechmea fasciata plant.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

The Pups of Aechmea fasciata
The Pups of Aechmea fasciata

Flowering

In order to produce flowers, the Silver Urn Plant must become an adult, about 3 or 4 years old. And because it is sold in bloom there is no question of assisting in the production of flowers by the plant lover, even if the plant dies soon after flowering, which will be due to lack of succes pollination.

Such a question arises, if the Silver Urn Plant of the plant lover come from asexual propagation – as described above. Then it sometimes happens that the plants are adults, have reached the 4th year, are in spring and are not seems to be in mood to produce flowers.

What does the plant lover do in this case?

Repeats the following procedure:

  • He/she places a ripe apple next to the Aechmea fasciata pot
  • Covers the plant and the apple with a plastic transparent bag
  • Transfers the plant with the apple and the bag to a dark place, and leave them there for a period of about 10 days, with the hope that the apple will produce a sufficient amount of ethylene which promotes the flowering of the Urn Plant
  • After 10 days, removes the bag and discard the apple
  • In 2 months at the latest the plant blooms
  • The overjoyed plant lover receives the congratulations of relatives, friends and acquaintances

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Pruning

Pruning is generally a minimal cultivation intervention for the care of Silver Urn Plant, which aims at cleaning and removing from the plant any yellow or dead leaf, as well as the flower stem at the end of flowering.

The flower stem is removed from the base, and from that moment, the natural cavity of the leaves that functioned as a water tank should remain empty, until the normal drying of the parent plant, to prevent the development of bacterial and fungal diseases.

Pruning tools, knives, scissors or pruners should be sterile, and a satisfactory, immediate method of sterilization is to immerse them in a bleach solution, while a satisfactory technique is to alternate tools during use.

Also, cuttings and removals should always be made on healthy tissue and with clean incisions that do not wound the plant, thus creating the conditions for the entry of parasites and phytopathogenic microorganisms.

Finally, swords, machetes and chainsaws are not absolutely necessary for the pruning of the Silver Urn Plant.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Repotting & Growing Media

Transplantation concerns the young plants of the Aechmea fasciata, as the adults do not need a repoting but only a change of substrate, which is done only once.

For young plants, the pot in which they will be transplanted should be slightly larger than the one in which they are already located and be able to withstand their weight, without the risk of overturning.

Twenty-four hours before transplanting, the young plants are watered with plenty of water to reduce the transplant shock.

Substrates

Suitable ready-made substrates for the Silver Urn Plant are those intended for orchids, but if the plant lover wants to create his own substrate for him/her there is the "Kalliergeia", in order to suggest exclusively for him/her some tested mixtures of materials.

1st Mixture

  • 3 parts coniferous bark
  • 1 part coconut fibers

2nd Mixture

  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part peat
  • 1 part coniferous bark

3rd Mixture

  • 1 part coarse river sand
  • 1 part peat
  • 1 part leaf mold

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Care of Silver Urn Plant - Urnplant (Aechmea fasciata) Flower(s) - © Joy Viola, Northeastern University, Bugwood.org
Urnplant (Aechmea fasciata) Flower(s) - © Joy Viola, Northeastern University, Bugwood.org

Pests & Diseases of Silver Urn Plant

The Silver Urn Plant will rarely face problems from pests and diseases, as long as it is in the right environment, and the soil substrate in the pot drains perfectly.

Nevertheless, it is good for the plant lover to know the most important pests of the plant (spider mites, scales and mealybags), as well as diseases (phytophthora, rust, botrytis and powdery mildew) and as soon as some of them appear, to immediately nail them to the wall, by the use of the appropriate formulations.

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

Potential Issues

The following table lists various potential problems, their possible causes and their treatment within the framework of care of Silver Urn Plant.

SymptomCauseTreatment
Older leaves turn yellowExcess water, overwateringWatering control
Crown rotPhytophthora spp. growth due to excessive watering or poor drainageDifficult to impossible
Leaf curling and peripheral browningExcessive direct sun exposure, combined with poor wateringNew location with diffused light and watering correction
Younger leaves have brown apex with pale yellow halo Low relative humidityIncreased humidity
Older leaves have brown topsPhotosynthesisPhysiological phenomenon
Brown spots on the leavesExcessive direct sun exposureNew location with diffused light
Absence of floweringIn general invariable - constant temperature throughout the yearDecrease temperature in autumn and winter

Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant

References

The References to the article that bears the intimidating title Growth & Care of Silver Urn Plant (Aechmea fasciata) are presented by the Brazilian Carlinhos Brown, who sings Magalenha, a creation of the great also Brazilian composer Sιrgio Santos Mendes.

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