Gardening: Expert shares advice for watering outdoor plants
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Bromeliads are plants belonging to the family Bromeliaceae which originate from the United States, South America and West Indies. They grow on trees, stumps and decaying branches. Bromeliads are recognisable by their colourful bracts which remain in effect for several months, making them an ideal addition to add some colour to your home.
Bromeliads were long considered to be advanced houseplants, fit for a greenhouse rather than a typical house.
However, in recent years they have been increasingly added to home environments.
These plants are popular because they offer beautiful foliage with strappy leaves in red, green, purple, orange and yellow colours.
They also often feature patterns on the plants, including stripes, spots and other features.
How to grow bromeliads
When growing bromeliads, creating the right environment for them is very important.
These plants want to be placed in bright light but shaded from the direct summer sun.
They ideally want temperatures of 21C to induce flowering, but once buds have started to form, temperatures should be dropped to 12C to help the plants sustain their flowers.
In the winter periods, bromeliads require a minimum temperature of 10C.
Most bromeliad plants can be grown in soilless growing media which consists of fine composted bark, perlite and coir fibre in equal proportions.
You can also mix half fine composted bark with half multipurpose growing media.
Cymbidium orchid compost can also be used.
Fundamentally, the most important objective is to achieve a very free-draining media.
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If you wish to plant them in a container, make sure to opt for a three to five-inch container.
Larger plants can become quite top-heavy so it is best to plant these in a larger pot of around seven inches.
If you wish to raise these plants from seed, this is possible, but seedlings can take five or more years to flower.
To grow them from seed, sow the seed on the surface of your compost, which should be two parts compost and one sand, and then mist the surface.
Maintain a humid atmosphere for the seeds by placing the container in a propagator with heat of 26C.
You can also cover it with a plastic bag and then place it in a warm airing cupboard.
Fresh seed should germinate within a few days and once you have seedlings with three or four leaves, you should allow them to acclimate to a less humid atmosphere.
Tricks to remember when growing bromeliads
- Use a folded triangle of paper to hold the plant base to avoid the prickly rosettes
- Maintain moist conditions, particularly in the summer, by placing the plant on a large saucer 75 percent filled with gravel or clay pellets and keep the level of water just below the surface of the gravel.
- Add a houseplant fertiliser when watering the rosette, though use it at half strength, and only feed it during the spring or summer months.
- In winter, only winter your plants once they have dried out.
- Use rainwater where possible or tap water which has been boiled, cooled and left to stand for 24 hours.
- Mist your plant regularly.
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