This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The showy Vriesia speciosa is a very singular stove or warm greenhouse plant belonging to the natural order Bromeliaceae. It is a plant having the general appearance of a Bilbergia, which it strikingly resembles in habit and manner of growth. The leaves are broadly ovate, about ten inches in length, of a dark green color, with transverse black bands. From the center of the plant arises a tall spike, a foot or more in length, of bright scarlet bracts, from which the flowers are produced. Although the flowers which are small and of a yellow color are quite transient, yet the plant continues to be for a long time exceedingly ornamental, the most showy part, the spike of richly colored bracts, being very enduring. Very gradually the bright scarlet becomes duller and eventually greenish, and at last extends over the whole spike. It is not what we might term a very rare plant, yet it is to be found in a very few collections only, although it is well worthy of the attention of amateur plant cultivators.
It is a fact to be regretted that nothing of its history is known with certainty.
This Vriesia requires a treatment similar to all plants belonging to Bromeliaceae. It should be given a compost of rich fibrous loam and well decomposed, of well-rotted leaf-mould in equal parts. Drain the pots well and use the compost rough, and pot the plants lightly. When growing give a temperature of from 550 to 6o°, and one of 500 to 550 when at rest. Start the plants into growth as early in the spring as possible placing them into four or five-inch pots in a warm light position; water freely when they commence to grow, and about the middle of summer shift into six or seven-inch pots according to the size of the plants. At this season they should be given a liberal treatment in order to obtain a strong vigorous growth, and about the end of September they should be gradually brought to a state of rest. Keep dry at the roots, until they are wanted to flower, when they should be watered freely and every means employed to induce a vigorous growth of the flower spike. After the flower spike has decayed, the old plant can be cut away, and the suckers which will be produced, can be treated as advised for young plants. In this way only can the plant be increased.
Queens, N. Y.