|The genus Alcantarea,is still a work in progress originally part of the much larger genus Vriesea names are still very loose and information on how to grow these regal plants is still hard to obtain. There are two main groups’ imperialis and the rest. The reason why I have divided them this way is because of their growing habits. The imperialis do have many colours but all grow to about the same size and hold that majestic shape till they flower which can be up to ten years. Even when planted as mature plants in the garden they should still give you several years before they flower and when they do the spike can last ten months. The thick flower spike reaches up to 3.5 metres in height, producing hundreds of slightly fragrant creamy white flowers. The other group tends to flower much sooner and produce a row of pups which changes the shape of the plant, left untouched they will form a clump and will not grow into the specimen first planted in the garden. The pups need to be removed from the mother plant and potted into pots so as they can get established before planting out again. All alcantareas will grow in full sun and I find they tend to do best there however they will grow in shade as well. Be it in the ground or in a large pot good drainage is preferred low humidity and heavy frosts should be avoided. When first planted out fill the center with water and in dry times top them up as well. We developed the imperialis ‘silver plum’ it is by far the most impressive in the family and also the most stable in cultivation. If purchased as a small plant they will need to be grown on in a pot until big enough to cope with planting out in the garden. Once the imperialis has reached two feet across it will do alright exposed to the elements.