King of the Bromeliads
Information and photo supplied by:
Andrew Flower of Anwyl Bromeliads.
Wellington, NZ Ph: 04 239 9659
Botanical name: Vriesea hieroglyphica
Family name: Bromeliaceae
Common name: King of the Bromeliads
Habitat: Southern Brazil, shady humid conditions at low altitudes. In its natural habitat it grows as an epiphyte, but is rarely grown this way in cultivation because of its large size.
Noted for its large deep green leaves with bizarre, hieroglyph-like black transverse bands, which form a rosette up to 1.5 meters in diameter. Grown chiefly as a foliage houseplant, it does eventually flower and then produces one or more offsets. As with all bromeliads, the plant declines after flowering and eventually dies. In the meantime the offset(s) will grow quickly to replace the mother plant.
In frost-free areas, particularly in the Bay of Plenty and northward, Vriesea hieroglyphica is successfully cultivated outdoors as a focal point in the lightly shaded, sheltered garden.
Because of its epiphytic nature, the plant should be kept rootbound by cultivating in a pot just large enough to keep the plant from toppling over-even when grown in the garden it is best to keep it in a pot and just bury the pot in the garden soil. Use an acid potting mix, either an orchid mix or a general potting mix with some extra bark (25 to 50%) added. The leaves form a large tank for holding water, which must not be allowed to dry out. In warm weather the plant will appreciate frequent hosing or misting of its leaves, but water sparingly during colder weather. Fertilising is not really necessary, and if done use a soluble fertiliser at no more than half the recommended dosage. Once a year, in summer, the plant should be flushed out with fresh water and then refilled.