Urn Plant: Hardy & Beautiful Blooms (Aechmea Care Guide)

This exotic floral houseplant, native to tropical South America, is also one of the hardiest. Its foliage ranges in color from light gray to dark red and is highly coarse and edged with quite sharp spines.

The plant is known as an “urn plant” because its overlapping, recurving leaves naturally form a waterproof urn shape. This urn fills up with rainwater or heavy dew in the plant’s native rainforest habitat, and when combined with insects, twigs, and other debris, it can sustain the plant for many months during a drought.

Aechmea Plants

The Urn plant is a common Bromeliad, Silver Vase plant (Aechmea fasciata) is one of the most well-known and well-liked of the Aechmea plants (which is pronounced EEK-me-uh).

The urn plant’s striking bracts are produced after a number of years, arguably when it is the most spectacular. These can take on a variety of shapes and have small, typically vividly blue flowers all over them.

This plant is also epiphytic, which means it grows on trees in the wild by sticking between branches or around things like rotten nursing logs.

Even though commercial growers propagate urn plants from seed under ideal circumstances, amateurs should avoid doing so. Instead, remove offsets from the base of established plants as soon as possible.

Then, pot each in a loose mixture of peat and perlite. It can take urn plants up to five years to reach the flowering stage. They are relatively expensive to purchase as a result.

Select a plant that has bracts visible above the urn-shaped shape of the leaves, but avoid selecting one that is in flower.

Varieties of Aechmea Plants

variety of urn plants in a garden

Aechmea blumenavii

This variety has 10–15 rigid, strap-like, slightly arched, green leaves that are 1-1/2 inches (36 millimeters) wide, with scaly-white overtones and dark violet at the tips. They unite into a long tube. In the middle and end of the summer, long, stiff stems are topped with loose clusters of yellow blooms.

 A. rhodocyanea 

The most prevalent type is A. fasciata, another name for it. It features grayish-green foliage and a fist-sized bract that is clear pink and flecked with small blue blooms. For six months, the bract remains vibrant. The main rosette from which the bract formed dies off after flowering, and tiny plants begin to grow at the base of the main stem. 

A. fulgens discolor

A. fulgens discolor is a plant significantly smaller than A. rhodocyanea, with a more open rosette and leaves that are red on the underside and green on the top. Along the stem, purple flowers are dispersed.

Amazonian Zebra Plant – Aechmea chantinii

It features a rosette of 12–15in (30–38cm) long, 2-2-1/2in (5–6cm) wide, with green leaves with spine-edged and pointed tips. Silver-gray cross-bands are seen on both sides of the leaves. Orange to brilliant crimson flowers begins to bloom in the latter part of summer and early fall.

Care: Maintain moist compost and the urn full of water in the winter; in the summer, water more abundantly and keep the urn full of water. Feed the compost and the urn every four weeks from late spring to late summer with light liquid fertilizer.

Propagation: After a plant blooms, it slowly withers and is replaced in growth by offsets sprouting nearby. At the compost level, cut the main plant off.

Cut an offset close to its base with a sharp knife once it is between one-third and one-half the size of a parent plant in full growth.

After letting the cut surface dry for one or two days, plant it in a fresh pot with compost that has been well-drained. If necessary, use a thin stake as support. Place in 64–70 °F temperature location.

Here is a video that highlights propagating an urn plant:

Silvery Vase – Aechmea fasciata

Up to 20 inches long and 2-1/2 inches wide silvery-white cross-banded grayish-green leaves create an urn. A stem protrudes from the urn in the late summer and early autumn, producing a flower head up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. Finally, the once-pale blue flowers blossom they become a rose color.

Coral Berry – Aechmea fulgens

A large rosette is made up of broad, strap-like, delicately spine-edged, olive-green leaves with waxy undersides: the leaves age and turn gray.

Late summer and early fall see the emergence of purplish-blue flowers, followed by vibrant, long-lasting scarlet berries. The variety “Discolor” leaves have white, powdery scales and a purple underside.

Ideal Environment 

aechmea plant in bloom with pink flower

Lighting & Location 

The urn plant is a bromeliad that typically dislikes being in a gloomy place. The color of the leaves will remain vibrant and beautiful in good, intense light with some sun. Despite the plants’ durability, avoid placing them near heaters or in drafts. 

Temperature

The plant doesn’t care much about the temperature and does best in a moderate to warm range of 59-70°F (15-21°C). Although the plant will handle a slight fluctuation at either end of this range, avoid subjecting it to extremes of heat or cold.

Watering

Every three weeks, replace the water in the middle rosette, which should have around 1 in (2.5 cm) of it. Just moisten the soil. Although there are no specific humidity requirements, the watering will tend to favor a humid environment over a dry one.

Feeding

Although it is not necessary to feed this plant, it will not suffer from an occasional addition of liquid feed to the water using a funnel or urn. Do not feed it more if something is awry. Look for pests and check the temperature.

Seasonal Care

The urn plant is quite simple to look after, needing only routine, but not excessive, attention to watering. This is in contrast to its exotically tropical appearance.

The old flower bract can be removed as the plant grows, and eventually, the parent rosette can also be thrown away. Before flowering, new rosettes may be replanted in smaller pots.

As a result, the plants often pose no difficulties.

Soil

Use an open mixture to ensure that the soil has unrestricted drainage. The best combination will be peat and peat-based potting soil mixed with a little amount of new sphagnum moss. Only once every two years will you typically need to repot.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get my Urn plant to bloom?

The ultimate benefit of caring for an urn plant is to show off the vibrant, long-lasting bracts that rise from the heart of the plant. Unfortunately, before a plant produces a flower stalk, it must be at least three years old.

Bracts are plant growers’ most frequent concern. To generate bracts, urn plants need a lot of bright light. If the light isn’t the issue, a deficiency in ethylene gas might be.

Try covering the potted plant and the urn plant with a plastic bag and adding a quartered apple to the soil to promote blossoming.

Please don’t feel discouraged even though bromeliad plants only bloom once before they die. They are a gift that keeps giving. When the bract goes brown, continue caring for your urn plant.

Two or more “pups,” or young urn plants, are hidden beneath the withering leaves. These should be left to develop until they are 6 inches tall, which typically takes five or six months. Then, move them into individual pots.

Are Urn plants toxic?

No, urn plants are not known to be toil to people or pets. If you want to double-check check you can view the poisonous plant’s list on the ASPCA website.

Why does my plant have pale brown patches on its leaves?

Urn plants do not generally tolerate a lot of direct sunlight and can get “scorched.” If this happens, you should move to a location with more indirect lighting.

Why are the tips of my Urn plant turning brown?

If the leaves or your plant have brown tips, there are three main things to check:

1.) Water type – If you’re using hard water, it can lead to the tips of leaves turning brown. Change the water to soft, distilled, or, best of all, rainwater.

2.) Underwatered – Your plant may need to be watered. View the section above on proper watering.

3.) Humidity – The plant might need more humidity- as dry air can cause brown tips on leaves.