Half the trick with being a show-biz star is timing your entrance on stage. You want your audience seated before you appear. That's show-biz 101, obvious stuff. Timing is everything after that. Make them wait awhile, but not so long that they start getting too restless, before you open the curtains and appear on stage. And so this week our show-biz star pulled off a grand entrance to amaze its small audience of two — Pammy and me.
In the weeks leading up to its appearance, Pammy and I had wondered quietly to ourselves whether it was ever going to flower this year at all. I had transplanted our Aechmea fasciata into a much bigger pot last year, and full of doubts about my competence (as always), I started to wonder if I had done something wrong.
(This comes with the territory of being a keen amateur at anything. You keep on trying all sorts of "don't try this at home" adventures, you have some disasters but a goodly basketful of successes as well. All along the way you suspect disaster lies around the corner.)
And last week the first pink stars started to form at the base of each Aechmea cup. It was only then that Pammy and I said to each other, almost in unison, "I was beginning to wonder if was going to flower this year." This week has been a pleasure, watching the pink crowns rise and rise like slow-motion fireworks.
For me, as the gardener responsible for all transplants, my delight at the dazzling flower show easily outshone the relief that the plant was happy, but I was quietly glad that all had gone well. Even when they're not in flower these bromeliads are handsome things, with their greeny white (or it is whitey green?) striped foliage totally owning the space it occupies. It's an attention-getter at any time of year.
For the next few years at least, the large pot where they grow will see their numbers multiply and the shows become even more spectacular, until they eventually overcrowd the pot and another episode of dividing and replanting is needed.
If you have bromeliads overcrowding their pots, here's a couple of things I have learned.
1. Wait until they finish flowering before doing any repotting.
2. I'm not sure if bromeliad experts will agree with this, but I mix up a 50:50 mix of orchid potting mix and ordinary potting mix, and plant the bromeliads into that. It seems to work OK.