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Aechmea distichantha Bromeliad

Edward F. Gilman; Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


The attractive green foliage of this easy-care, durable bromeliad is a perfect background for the brilliant, springtime flower stalk that emerges from the tight center rosette of leaves. The flower stalk is composed of a cluster of red, showy bracts lasting several months. It is the long-lasting bracts that are most noticeable and stand about 2 feet off the ground. They are very striking in full bloom.

Figure 1. Full form—Aechmea distichantha: bromeliad.
Figure 1.  Full form—Aechmea distichantha: bromeliad.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Figure 2. Flower—Aechmea distichantha: bromeliad.
Figure 2.  Flower—Aechmea distichantha: bromeliad.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


General Information

Scientific name: Aechmea distichantha

Pronunciation: eek-MEE-uh diss-stick-KANTH-uh

Common name(s): bromeliad

Family: Bromeliaceae

Plant type: perennial; herbaceous

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: mass planting; container or above-ground planter; ground cover; suitable for growing indoors

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant
Figure 3. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 3.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.



Height: 2 to 3 feet

Spread: 1 to 2 feet

Plant habit: vase shape

Plant density: open

Growth rate: slow

Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: basal rosette

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: spiny

Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 18 to 36 inches

Leaf color: blue or blue-green

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: red

Flower characteristic: spring flowering


Fruit shape: no fruit

Fruit length: no fruit

Fruit cover: no fruit

Fruit color: not applicable

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: usually with one stem/trunk

Current year stem/twig color: not applicable

Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun

Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam

Drought tolerance: high

Soil salt tolerance: poor

Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches


Roots: not applicable

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Growing best in partial shade in moisture-retentive but well-drained soil, this bromeliad makes a handsome, tall ground cover or container plant. Place individual plants about 18 to 24 inches apart for an effective ground cover. A ground cover or mass planting in front of a green-foliaged shrub grouping that branches to the ground makes a nice, bright accent for a partially shaded spot. It can also be successfully grown epiphytically, or without soil, with moss around its roots. Wire it to the branches of rough-barked trees where its cupped rosette will catch needed water. Bromeliads are tough plants needing little care once they become established.

Propagation is by division of the offsets or by seed.

Design Considerations

The bold form and coarse texture of the bromeliad make it perfect for containers and highly visible spaces in the landscape. Use with plants that are softer with small foliage and mounding or spreading forms. Medium and light green foliage in the companion plants will highlight the dark green and red of the bromeliad. Pair with plants with more texture in the foliage to contrast with the smooth stiff leaves of the bromeliad. Use plants with no flowers or small to medium flowers with cool bright colors to contrast with the bright red of the bromeliad flower. Complementary colors include cool colors such as purples and blues. Use large masses of companion plants around the base or in front of the bromeliads when they are planted in a mass.

Pests and Diseases

Problems include scale and mosquitoes, which may breed in the trapped water in the leaves. Root rot is a problem if the soil is kept too moist. No irrigation is needed once the plant is well established.

Publication #FPS15

Release Date:March 21, 2018

Reviewed At:June 9, 2022

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About this Publication

This document is FPS15, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised November 2017. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant; and Gail Hansen, associate professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman