The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, April 16, 2000
Garden Life

Bring the garden into your home
By Satish Narula

HOUSE plants have no substitute. Those who are experts or have learnt to rear them, derive great pleasure out of growing them, whereas the others who have failed a few times tend to go in for artificial plants. But can artificial plants ever be a substitute.

Bromeliade is among the most striking indoor plants For the real ones? Artificial plants no doubt give pleasure for some time, but one cannot change their static nature. House plants are valued for their colourful foliage, and the colour patterns often change with the age of the plant. There are certain house plants that get preference over others due to their spectacular display of flowers and foliage. But each house plant has its own requirements and essentials. If you learn to appreciate their needs, there is then no reason why they should wither away.

  Among house plants, the bromeliads are probably the ones that have the most striking beauty. These are stemless plants that form a whorl of foliage of arresting beauty that seems to be emerging from a single point. There is a wide variation in the colour of the leaves. In certain species, the straplike leaves are heavily spotted or striped. The leaves are so immaculately arranged that they form a cup or funnel in the middle that can hold water. This cup should always be kept filled. Do not worry even if the growing plant is submerged in water. It will not die. You could water the pot once or twice a month. Too much water in soil could lead to root rot. The plant could be kept outdoors but direct sunlight should be avoided.

The amazing flowering inflorescence of different colours emerge out from the centre of the rossette of leaves. The inflorescence may be on long stalk or very small, stemless just peeping out of the water cup.

Though the actual flower has a short life, the decorative bracts remain for a very long time. The bromeliads flower only after three to four years and then the rossette dies. The process of decaying is, however, slow and may even extend to a year or so. The propagation in this case is through offsets that emerge from the sides from the main plant. These should be removed when about half the size of the original plant as the success rate otherwise is low. Remove the offspring with a little roots and plant afresh. If an offset is removed, and it does not have roots, you could put it on sand to give roots, keep the sand moist.

This feature was published on April 9, 2000