Bromeliaceae includes approximately 56 genera of terrestrial to epipphytic herbs of mild temperate and tropical America, plus a single species of Picairnia from western Africa. The leaves are strap – or sword – shaped, commonly in basal whols, often guttered, with a water – collecting reservoir in the center, or sometimes in whols around a stem, or rarely distichous, the bases clasping the stem. They are sometimes strongly patterned or become brightly colored at maturity. The leaf margin is frequently sharply toothed, the tip spined. Flowers are usually small and short – lived, blue – violet, yellow, or white. Floral bracts, sepals, and sometimes the fruits are brightly colored and often long lasting. The fruit is a berry or capsule.
Individual bromeliad plants die after flowering after producing new plants from offsets. Remove offsets when they are a third the size of the parent. Poi in humus, bark, or chopped coconut fiber with grit for drainage. The roots of epiphytic species are primarily for attachment. Even terrestrial species may rot in wet soil. In warm areas many bromeliads thrive in humus under trees or attached to trees and palms. Mist when dry and keep reservoirs full or water. Bromeliads provide unique niches, moisture, nectar, and food for invertebrates, frogs, lizards, and birds. To deter mosquito larvae and scale insects, spray plants with a mixture of 1 teaspoon each of salad oil and kitchen detergent in a quart of water. Copper sprays are deadly to bromeliads. Most species are easy to grow, some do best in humid climates while others do well where dry.
Androlepis incledes a single species os monocarpic herb from Central America. It is among the few bromeliads with the male and female flowers on different plants. Female plants are rare in cultivation. Male plants are propagated from offsets. The leaves are in basal rosettes, yellow – green in filtered light to mahogany – red in bright sunlight. This clump – forming bromeliad is suitable as a medium bedding plant.
Synonym: A. donnell – smithii. Costa Rica to Panama. Terrestrial herb, 18-24 in, zones 10-11. Blooms warm months. Regular moisture and humidity. Sandy, humus rich, well – drained soil, slightly acid pH. Full sun to bright filtered light. Flowers: unisexual, spike white, conical, erect, to 2 ft. tall. leaves: sword shaped, 18-24 in. long, outer leaves spreading, margins lined with small sharp teeth, in basal rosettes. The femala inflorescence has a more cylindrical shape on a shorter stalk than the made inflorescence shown here.