Thursday, January 31, 2013
Flowering occurs in winter and the inflorescence keeps good color for many weeks. Bracts are a rosy-pink color and flower petals are pale lavender. The bracts become darker as the bloom spike ages.
The leaves are long, narrow and flexible, giving a grass-like appearance to large clumps of the plant. Individual leaves are about an inch wide by 12-18 inches long. They are spineless or have only soft flexible spines near the base, making this a good choice for people who are turned off by more heavily armored species.
Offsets are produced on short, thin stolons.
Related reading: Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala
Friday, January 25, 2013
In winter the tip of every branch is covered with clusters of snow-white flowers. Even the smallest of plants bloom. I've had them flower in a 4-inch pot with a flower spike taller than the plant itself. The blooming period may extend for more than two months as new buds continue to open at the branch tips. The species is semi-deciduous, depending on the climate, so in some locations the plants will be nearly bare when they come into bloom.
The species name, riparia, means growing on the banks of rivers, and that is where the plant is frequently found in its native habitat, as well as in dry wooded valleys and on hillsides. It grows well in full sun, but in hot climates it benefits from a little shade during the middle of the day.
The common name Iboza is a native Zulu word referring to its aromatic qualities, and that name is sometimes seen listed as the genus for the plant. Other common names include misty plume and ginger bush. Cultivars supposedly exist bearing pink or lavender flowers.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
In the winter, the plants tolerate brief periods as low as 26°F without damage, as long as no frost forms on the leaf surface.