Aechmea recurvata

false tillandsia
Clustering, yellow-green, armed bromeliad has recurved leaves and pineapple form, blooming with pink bracts and flowers. Great for pots, tight spaces or mounting. One of the easiest.
height 1–2ft
width 1–2ft
tolerates Drought, Heat, Pots, Neglect, Salt, Wind
When soil is mostly dry.
This bromeliad is one of the most drought tolerant and can go completely dry between waterings without skipping a beat.

Bromeliads evolved their unique shape to funnel rainwater into their centers, and then store it there. If you’re in a hot climate simulate this by watering from above. When indoors, you can water in the center of the crown and allow the water to overflow down into the lower ‘tanks’ and then the roots without getting the area around your plant wet. However, if you are in a cool climate it is best to just water the soil, as lingering water in the crown can lead to rot.
exposure Bright Indirect – Direct Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Orchid Bark, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing Acid 1/2 Strength
origin E South America
15–17, 19–24, H2

Sunset Zones Map

Indoor Exposure Guide


Direct Sun
Beams of light hitting the plant near a window four or more hours a day. The most intense light. If you're in a direct sun spot, you can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.

Partial Direct
Occurs when you have a plant that is in less intense direct sunlight. This happens when a plant is in a few hours of direct morning sun, or an hour or less of direct afternoon sun. It also happens when a plant is in direct sun, but more than six feet from a window, where the light is diffused.

Bright Indirect
This is just beyond the direct beam of light (or through cracked blinds or a sheer curtain filtering direct sun). Bright indirect areas are characterized by a place where you can sit and read a novel comfortably without artificial light.

Moderate Indirect
Beyond the bright indirect light. In these areas you wouldn't turn on a light walking through the room, but if you were hanging out there you would probably have the lights on, even during the day.

Low Light
Dim spots, usually the backs of rooms or hallways where you would always turn lights on, even if just walking in to grab something.


Growing Notes

Leaves get glowing red cast when grown in direct sun.
Bromeliads are occasionally terrestrial (grow in the ground) but most are epiphytic, growing on the trunks and branches of trees. Even others are lythophytic, growing in the cracks of rock faces. Either way they don’t need much root space and thrive in pots. This also makes them ideal for mounting on a plank, tree, fence, totem or rock.
Because they are usually growing in tight spots their nutrients come from decaying litter, making them appreciate a light acidic fertilizer, but all purpose seems to work just fine.
When planting in the ground take extra care to ensure good drainage. Some ways to do this are by mounding the plants, adding pumice or lava rock to the soil, or even planting nursery cans directly into a basin of pumice to keep their roots constrained.
Avoid planting under trees or other plants that shed a lot, as the litter will collect in the rosettes. If this happens you can gently flush the tanks out with a garden hose.
This bromeliad builds energy its entire life to send off one spectacular flower, but afterward will die. Don’t worry though, there are usually a couple pups at the base ready to replace it. Start by pruning down the flower once it has lost its vitality, later when the parent plant (that bloomed) begins to fade, remove it to make room for the next generation, often this can be done by just twisting and pulling on the old dried up rosette. Be careful with this one, the spines are no joke!

Special Interest

One of the toughest most reliable bromeliads for areas of California with higher rainfall. Tolerates being in the ground very well without rotting, where it quickly offsets. Very tolerant of direct sun, more-so than most bromeliads.

We visited a very special garden designed and built by the late Harland Hand (in the Sunnyside neighborhood of San Francisco). The irrigation had been turned off in one of Californias droughts and after eight years of drought many plants had died. And yet, a massive patch of Aechmea recurvata had prospered, engulfing one of Harlands iconic rock walls living on only sparse rains and fog drip.