AECHMEA RHODOCYANEA (URN PLANT, EXOTIC BRUSH)
A highly decorative and popular member of the pineapple family. Grows as a dense rosette of leaves, each leaf being 2 to 3 in. wide and 1 to 1-1/2 ft. long, with a saw-toothed edge. The leaves vary considerably in colour, but usually have either alternate bands of green and silver-grey or are almost entirely silver-grey. The silver-grey effect is produced by a mealy substance on the surface and underside of the leaves, and should never be rubbed off. Dust on the leaves may be blown off.
A rosy-pink flower bract grows up from the centre of the rosette to about 1-½ ft., ending in rose-pink spiky leaves, between which red and violet-blue flowers emerge. When the flowers die, pluck them from the bract, which will then remain pink for six to nine months. At about flowering time, the plant produces one to three offshoots. Leave these on the plant, which will die down after flowering and should be cut off near the base. The offshoots will then grow on the root system of the parent plant and will flower again in two to three years.