Giant Bromeliad, Alcantarea
Alcantarea imperialis 'Ruby'. Photo - Linda Ross
These statement plants soak up the sun and create one of the most eye-catching species in the
Native to Eastern Brazil, Alcantarea gets its name from Dom Pedro d'Alcântara, the second Emperor or Brazil.
Alcantarea is a group of extremely large Bromeliads, some reaching sizes of 1.5m across with flower spikes 2.5m high. In their natural habitat they are often found perched on the beautiful high rocky cliffs of Brazil.
Alcantarea require an extremely free draining mix. Pants are tolerant to most positions, with some varieties performing well in either full sun, or part shade. The best colours are usually achieved in high light. Foliar feeding with a liquid fertiliser produces good results, Thrive or Powerfeed work well. Water pots with Harvest or Maxicrop once a month to improve plant health and vigour.
Photo - Linda Ross
The most common species of Alcantarea in cultivation are:
A. geniculata - Reaches a span of 1m with wide glossy green leaves. The flower spike features deep pink bracts and can grow up to 1m in height. Can be grown in full sun or shady spots and is frost hardy and tolerant of salty sea breezes.
A. imperialis - A real giant, 1.5m wide with a flower spike full of tiny white flowers which can reach 2.5m in height. This size takes around 10 years to achieve. Leaves are slightly ribbed and have a leathery texture. Red and purple varieties are available.
A. odorata - Slightly smaller than others in than its siblings, it doesn't quite reach a metre in width. Made up of numerous slender green leaves with a faint silver band and a cover of white waxy powder. The flowers spike has red bracts and features fragrant flowers.