Vriesia Splendens (Zebra Plant, Flaming Sword)
(Bromeliaceae) origin: British Guiana
A really easy plant, with a rosette of strap-shaped leaves about 12 in. long and up to 3 in. wide. The leaves are dark green with irregular transverse bands of chocolate-maroon on the underside. The plant takes seven years to grow to flowering size from seed, but then produces a spectacular bract and flowers rising from 1-1/2 to 2 ft. The bright orange-red bract rises from the centre funnel of leaves, and is composed of many segments; between these the yellow, tubular flowers emerge. Keep the centre funnel filled with water and the roots just moist. The plant will tolerate periods of drought and varying light conditions except sunlight, but prefers semi-shade. It will withstand temperatures down to 40° F. (4° C.) if dry at the roots, and if it is not damaged by a hot, dry atmosphere or fumes.